April 2020

On Stage


Stage Talk by Carol Viescas

Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns

Kids-N-Co. classes
— Kids-N-Co. offers acting classes geared for ages 9 and older. Classes are Saturdays, April 18-May 16. Information, location: 274-8797 or on Facebook at El Paso Kids-n-Co.

‘Murder on the Orient Express’ — El Paso Playhouse, 2501 Montana, presents one of Agatha Christie’s most famous stories May 8-24. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $15 ($12 seniors, students, military and teachers; $9 children). Information: 532-1317 or elpasoplayhouse.com.
  This intricate mystery follows a group of passengers trapped on a luxurious train in a snow storm. After a murder is committed, famous detective Hercule Poirot must summon all his skills to find the murderer and uncover the true identity of the victim.

‘Fun Home’ — Forum Theatre at El Paso Community College presents the musical adapted by Lusa Kron and Jeanine Tesoro from Alison Bechdel’s 2006 graphic memoir, directed by Greg Thompson are 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, June 18-28, at EPCC’s Forum Theatre on the Transmountain Campus, 9570 Gateway North. Tickets available at the door: $15; $10 non-EPCC students/miliary; $7 EPCC students, faculty and staff. Information: 831-5147 or on Facebook.
  Pre-audition workshop is 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday, May 10, with auditions at 7 p.m. Monday, May 11, and call backs at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 12.

Rescheduled events

— Las Cruces Community Theatre, 313 N. Main in the Las Cruces Downtown Mall presents the comedy tentatively June 5-21 (rescheduled from March 20-April 5). Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sundays. Cake and non-alcoholic beverages with the cast and crew follow opening night performance. Tickets: $17 ($14 senior, student and military; $10 groups and children). Information: (575) 523-1200 or lcctnm.org.
  Elwood P. Dowd is an affable man who claims to have an unseen (and presumably imaginary) friend Harvey — whom Elwood describes as a six-foot, three-and-one-half-inch tall pooka resembling an anthropomorphic rabbit.
  Check website for the 2020-21 season schedule.

‘Titanic The Musical’ — UTEP Dinner Theatre, in the UTEP Student Union West building presents the Tony Award Winner for Best Musical July 10-26. Music and lyrics by Maury Yeston, and story and book by Peter Stone. Show time is 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; non-dinner matinees are Sunday 2:30 p.m. April 26 and May 3; dinner matinee is 1:30 p.m. Sunday, April 19. Tickets: $33.50 to $43.50 Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday discount dinner performances; $36.50 to $48.50 (Friday and Saturday dinner performances), and $19.50 to $29.50 no-dinner matinee performances (Ticketmaster). Information: 747-6060 or utep.edu/udt.
  Performances postponed from April 19-May 3.
  The Titanic sank in the early hours of April 15, 1912. This epic, sweeping musical drama (not based on the James Cameron film) examines the causes, the conditions, and the characters involved in the ever-fascinating drama of the RSS Titanic. This is the factual story of that ship, of her officers, crew and passengers,but the central character of this adaptation is ”Titanic” is the Titanic herself. Mature subject matter.

  ‘Into the Beautiful North’ — The UTEP Department of Theater & Dance presents the Karen Zacarias play based on the novel by Luís Alberto Urrea Oct. 22-Nov. 1, at UTEP’s Fox Fine Arts Wise Family Theatre, as part of the NEA: Big Read El Paso. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, as well as 2:30 p.m. matinees Sundays. Tickets: $12-$18 (all tickets $10 April 24). Information: 747-5118, theatredance.utep.edu or on Facebook.
  Postponed from April 24-May 3.
  Inspired by the movie “The Magnificent Seven,” Nayeli leaves Sinaloa, Mexico with her best friends to sneak into the United States to bring seven “magnificent men” to fight off the narcos.


El Paso Nuevo Siglo Drama Festival
— The festival was scheduled for April 15-20 at the Chamizal National Memorial Theatre, 800 S. San Marcial. Information: 532-7273, nps.gov/cham or nuevosiglo-elpaso.org.

‘Classic Campesino’ — El Paso Community Foundation’s Jewel Box Series was scheduled to present two Luis Valdez one-act plays, produced by Eden Enterprises April 19 at the Philanthropy Theatre. Information: 533-4020 or epcf.org.

One-Act Play Festival — Las Cruces Community Theatre, 313 N. Downtown Mall, Las Cruces, postponed its one-act showcase scheduled for April 24-26. Information: (575) 523-1200 or lcctnm.org.


‘The Tempest’
— American Southwest Theatre Company canceled the production set for April 30-May 10 at NMSU’s Center for the Arts in Las Cruces. Information: nmsutheatre.com.

STAGE TALK by Carol Viescas

Local stages scramble to redo schedules due to coronavirus crisis

Coronavirus has put a stop to theater in the area, so I asked each local community group how this would affect their group. Here are the replies I got.

Greg Taylor, UTEP Dinner Theatre: We have postponed “Titanic” until July 10-26, 2020. It will replace our planned summer production of “Annie Get Your Gun,” which has been canceled.
  “We are still doing ‘Titanic’ since we had already spent a lot of money on scenery, props and costumes. We had not spent any money on ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ as of now, so it was an obvious choice to cancel that show and move Titanic (plus everyone seems to be looking forward to Titanic). We are very lucky that the entire cast is able to still be involved over the summer.
  “The Dinner Theatre will most likely lose a chunk of money (how much depends on how well Titanic sells), which we will probably have to make up over the next few years.
  “We were lucky in that the University decided to cancel events last Friday, as we were scheduled to go on sale yesterday and today (March 16-17). By canceling before that we do not have to deal with refunds since we had not yet sold any tickets.
  “Our reduced staff will continue to build the ‘Titanic’ sets, costumes and props over this time without a show as long as the University remains open but we will exercise all precautions put out by the CDC and the University.
  “Until we hear anything different in the case of UTEP’s official policies, ‘Titanic’ is planned to set sail at The UTEP Dinner Theatre July 10th!”

Ceil Herman, No Strings Theatre Company: “Like the rest of the economy, the Black Box Theatre and No Strings Theatre Company are taking a major hit. The financial impact is enormous. Without being able to hold performances, the theater’s income stream has gone to essentially zero. We anticipate that we will continue to receive donations, but expect these to be significantly reduced because many patrons have lost their incomes.
  “The artistic impact is significant as well. We were forced to cancel the final performances of our current show, which was a great disappointment to the cast who had worked so hard and to our patrons who had not yet seen it. We are postponing our remaining season rather than cancelling it, however this means that we cannot know when we will be able to present these productions, or when we will be able to begin our new season. This uncertainty is causing anxiety for everyone involved in our creative community.
  “On a more positive note, we are all looking forward to when we will be able to have audiences and an active theater. To be ready for that, the cast of our next scheduled production, Mark Medoff‘s ‘The Majestic Kid,’ will be rehearsing once a week to be able to perform as soon as we get the go ahead to reopen the theatre.”

Stella Gutierrez, Kids-N-Co.: “The biggest struggle during this pandemic is getting theater kids to stop hugging one another. It’s like telling wolves to stop howling at the moon. They’re a demonstrative bunch, and they can’t help but enjoy each other’s company. The directing team stressed distance between actors, hand washing, and hygiene because the KNC Board decided to continue with the productions for the final weekend of our “Marvel Spotlight” plays, March 14-16.
  “The KNC Board struggled with the decision of cancelling the final weekend because we had a couple of kids who were understudies for lead roles, and it was their turn to perform. If we cancelled the weekend, they would not get to perform the part they had been working hard to put on stage. Since there still wasn’t a confirmed case of COVID19, we decided to go on.
  “Then on Friday night, March 14, the first case was confirmed, and we knew we had to cancel the last two shows. At least our understudies got to perform one show with their new part, and the kids had the opportunity to perform together for a final show. While we lost revenue that weekend, we did what was best to keep the kids and the community safe.
  “At this point, we are planning to continue auditions for ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’ (La Jolla Playhouse version), under the direction of Rachel Robins, on April 5 and 6. We are rescheduling our acting classes to April 18-May 16 (they were scheduled to start March 28). We canceled the Kinder Class for ages 5-8. Our outreach group, the KNC Show Choir, has suspended rehearsals until further notice.
  “KNC has had many challenges and setbacks during the theater’s 32 years in El Paso. The company meets those challenges, overcomes them, and moves forward. The show must go on, especially for these kids, who have come to see theater (wherever it may be) as a second home.”

Janet Beatty-Payne, Las Cruces Community Theatre: “As far as things go for the Las Cruces Community Theatre, due to the Covid-19 situation and the CDC’s guidance to not gather in groups of more than 50 until at least May 10, we have rescheduled our production of ‘Harvey’ by Mary Chase that was supposed to open on March 20, back to June 5-21. We have had to cancel our One Act Play Festival and our production of ‘Nunsense’ because of this health emergency.
  Originally ‘Nunsense’ was supposed to run June 5-21, but since Harvey was pretty much ready to open and so much hard work has been put into Harvey already, we decided to push Harvey into the last show position of the season and cancel ‘Nunsense’ all together, since ‘Nunsense’ hasn’t even been cast yet. We really want to honor the hard work of our ‘Harvey’ cast, crew, and designers by giving them the opportunity to perform.
  “From a financial point of view, this will certainly be a loss to LCCT, but we will get through this all right due to some very successful shows earlier in our season, such as ‘A Christmas Story the Musical’ and ‘Arsenic and Old Lace.’
  “All we can do at this time is focus on keeping our community and volunteers safe and healthy by closing our doors through May and hoping that Covid-19 has run its course by then so that we can open ‘Harvey’ on June 5. We are just looking toward the future and keeping our proverbial chins up.”

Carol Viescas is a veteran of
community theater and teaches
journalism at Bel Air High School.

This month's listings,
stories and columns

Feature story
Here's the Ticket
Program Notes
On Stage
Southwest Art Scene
At the Museum
History Lessons
Film Scene
Keep on Bookin'
Liner Notes
Stage Talk
Gallery Talk

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