Saturday, July 28, 2012

Musical About Gold Rush Prostitutes Premiers at Cyrano's

Barker (scum of the north)
After the show I told Ed Bourgeois that he was lowlife scum and I'd never speak to him again.  And just last week when I talked to him he seemed so nice, but as Barker in Gold Rush Girls he was such a despicable villain that the audience even booed him a few times. Ed was also the director of this musical. 

It was dark on stage after the show and my pictures didn't turn out well, but Barker doesn't deserve a clean, crisp picture.  Fuzzy and out of focus is still too good for him.

 I keep saying this, but it continues to be true.  Anchorage is lucky to have such good local theater in small intimate venues.  Cyrano's Playhouse holds 99 people.  We were on the side and we were closer to the action at times, than other actors on the stage.

Cyrano's stage from our seats before the show
Lael Morgan

 And the actors were all so good.  The acting and, more importantly, the singing voices were strong and beautiful.  The music was strong.  This was a cast of seasoned actors and singers (the program lists lots of notable experience)  bringing to life this musical "Gold Rush Girls" about the people in an Alaska dance hall.  It's based on the book Good Times Girls by Lael Morgan who was there for opening night.  So were the composer and playwright, Jerry and Karmo Sanders.

A good story, good music, great cast.  It's scheduled to be here through September.  It's a perfect night of entertainment for tourists who want to see good musical theater with an Alaskan theme as well as for locals who just want to see a good musical. 

The playwright and composer notes in the program say:
Gold Rush Girls has been through many incarnations in the past 10 years;  with numerous readings, 5 of them being at the Boston Playwrights' Theatre, and a 2 week workshop at the New Repertory in Watertown, MA.  After each one of those adventures, we came home - and re-wrote.
I'm sure after seeing it actually performed now, they'll be doing some more tweaking.  Despite it being over two hours long, I was fully absorbed throughout.   There were so many great performances.  It was like an old Perils of Pauline plot with several heroes, some weaker souls who went with the flow, a love-struck "Schoolboy", and an ambitious woman who is easy prey for the devious villain.  So the boos from the audience fit right in.  I wanted to grab Lily (Regina MacDonald) and tell her, "No, don't be a fool!!  But the lead character, Eudora (Katie Strock) told her for me. 

I want to point out Christina Gagnon, who played the ghost of Kanoontuk, and hovered around the stage throughout singing advice from the afterlife in her amazing, powerful, and beautiful voice.  My favorite moment was Schoolboy (Leo Grinberg) and Rose's (Ali de Guzman) duet.  They were standing about six feet from us and Kanoontuk was looking on from the doorway, even closer to us, adding her beautiful encouragement. 

We've had many great experiences in this intimate theater.  An evening of opera stands out - hearing those penetrating voices up close without amplification.  Another evening with Dan Bern - two shows worth - just totally into the music and the audience.  This was a night like that.  If this play ever makes its way to Broadway, the people in New York won't have this magical intimacy with the actors.

I don't take pictures during performances without permission. This was during what would have been the curtain call had there been a curtain.   I'd note that during the performance the actors did not ignore those of us sitting on the sides of the stage. 

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