Well-Wrought @ One Thirty Productions

If you haven’t yet attended a stage performance by One Thirty Productions at White Rock Lake’s Bath House Cultural Center in Dallas, take advantage of a wonderful opportunity to do so. Named One Thirty Productions because it always performs matinees at 1:30 pm Wednesdays through Saturdays, this quiet company of well-schooled professionals is earning quite a reputation as one of the best kept performance art secrets on the east side of the metroplex. In 2009 at the Bath House’s Festival of Independent Theatres, One Thirty Productions premiered Austin-based playwright Ellsworth Schave’s one-act play Under a Texaco Canopy and garnered rave reviews for the hauntingly surreal production, including a 2009 Best New Play nod by the DFW Theatre Critics Forum. See https://sjamaanka.wordpress.com/2009/07/27/take-two-fits-2009/

L to R: Jason Kennedy, Morgana Shaw, Ted Wold, Larry Randolph

Through May 22nd One Thirty Productions performs Well-Traveled, But Not Well-Known, Ellsworth Schave’s sprightly, loving full length homage to summer stock theater (with Chekhovian undertones) chock-full of surprises, mystery and romance. The show’s cast include some of the best-loved performers in the metroplex; they seem so comfortable together on stage they might have all worked together for years. Ted Wold plays Thurman, the kindly impresario of a small summer stock theatre company, firmly determined to see his long-disappeared mother elevated to near sainthood in this summer’s play production. He’s engaged a perky young playwright named Chip, played with cherubic, harried dedication by Jason Kennedy, to pen the work — and hired a ‘well-traveled but not well-known’ professional actress with an intriguing past, named Ziller ( femme fatale Morgana Shaw), to play the feature role. Summer stock director Henry (John Venable) longs to mount Blood Wedding and rebels at the rose-colored tint Chip’s play exudes, finds a kindred spirit in Ziller whereupon romance blooms. Meanwhile, Thurman’s merrily interfering and a tad senile father Hiram (Larry Randolph, who also directed the piece) gets at cross purposes with the enigmatic, sharp-shooter Grace (masterfully created by Gene Ray Price) who arrives on the scene with all the puzzling bits to everyone’s life histories up her voluminous sleeves.

Gene Ray Price means Business!

Well-Traveled But Not Well-Known is gentle madcap entertainment, perfect mid-afternoon summer fare, featuring the sort of lyrical dialogue and charming relationships that have earned playwright Ellsworth Schave multiple play-writing and indie film awards for over a decade. It feels almost as if Thornton Wilder collaborated with Anton Chekhov then had Garrison Keillor do the final edit on the text….Director Larry Randolph has woven his wise, self-assured magical wand over the ensemble; stage picture after picture emerges in effortless natural flow, allowing the diverse talents of all performers to flourish. Sound design by Graeme Bice plays up the whimsy of the work (ranging from Beatles to Marlene Dietrich and Ethel Merman); and Marty Van Kleeck’s costumes add style and humor as the plot thickens. When Ziller finally emerges attired as Thurman’s “Madonna”, swathed in a black nun’s habit with gypsy aspects, the audience howls with delight. No salty language, endless spite-filled tirades or steamy sex scenes here, but somehow the theatrical muse gets well served, regardless.

One Thirty Productions’ Well-Traveled But Not Well Known runs through May 22nd. For tickets call 214-532-1709 or visit http://www.bathhousecultural.com

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