Sunday, August 10, 2008

all of the above

There are three possible reasons why I truly enjoyed Krisha Newport's performance in "Cactus Flower" at Theatre Knoxville Downtown. a) she's a friend of mine; b) she's remarkably talented; or c) she has the best part in the play. My wife and I were part of today's matinée audience.

Krisha plays the spinster nurse who just may bloom like the cactus on her desk. That same character was portrayed on Broadway by Lauren Bacall and in the movie by Ingrid Bergman. Those are some heavy-duty actresses. They try to trick you into thinking that the story is about a pretty young girl (Oscar winner Goldie Hawn in the movie, Brenda Vaccaro on Broadway) depressed over her affair with a dentist. In reality, the nurse is the linchpin on whom the whole plot turns.

I found a scene from the movie on YouTube. It seems a little sluggish compared to the play, which is a quick-witted farce. It has enough of a plot twist to keep you guessing how the romantic partnerships will work out. Krisha's character, Stephanie, could end up with the writer, the actor, the diplomat or the dentist. Her red wig put me in mind of another great comedic actress, Carol Burnett.

Pat and Morgan Fitch are in the cast as the rich patient and the struggling actor. In real life, they once invited me over to see their pet turtles. After another actress dropped out, Pat offered to play two parts. A different wig and costume transformed her into the actor's girlfriend. In a compliment to her technique, I didn't realize that the second character was also her until the curtain call.

"Cactus Flower" runs for two more weekends. The News Sentinel had a nice write up about the show the week before it opened. Theatre Knoxville is housed in a little space across the street from Regas Restaurant that I had overlooked until now. I'll be back for Krisha's next show.

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