May 14, 2009

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Curtain Calls
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

• Burning: Suzanne Delle is leaving Yellow Taxi Productions of Nashua, which she founded in 2002, to pursue freelance directing jobs after this summer. As a goodbye, she directs and acts in Burn This, a play by Lanford Wilson that she first encountered in 1987, when it premiered.

Delle wrote in her program note that the story “spoke to me about how people are — not perfect or good but authentic and honest.” Wilson’s story does that.

Anna is a modern dance choreographer. The action all takes place in the New York apartment which is also her studio. Delle plays Anna in a natural, unforced way, as if she has indeed been thinking about the role since 1987.

I commend the choice of Casey Preston as the fascinating, magnetic and brutally honest, Pale. The program notes that “modern dancers rely on emotion and mood,” and Pale put plenty of that in front of sheltered Anna during the May 9 performance. Pale’s introduced to the audience by barging into Anna and Larry’s apartment at 5 a.m., high on cocaine, to pick up his dead brother’s things. Robbie was Anna’s dance partner and roommate who had just died in a boating accident with his boyfriend.

Pale can’t stay still, lashing out in a string of diatribes on barely linked topics. While his complaints are colorful, scattered, unprompted, with little to do with why he’s there, they are relatable: “Half my adult life, I swear, has been spent looking for a place to park.”

Preston lets Pale’s bottled pain about his brother’s death trickle out — between protectively bouncing to other thoughts and questions while also trying to learn about his brother’s life.

As for authentic, Anna taking Pale to bed is absolutely a likely scenario when a woman is drinking with a damaged, grieving, estranged brother of a recently deceased friend at dawn who keeps peeling off layers of his clothes.

Anna and Pale’s Cathy and Heathcliff-like carrying-on contrasts with Anna not feeling all that close to her wealthy, filmwriter boyfriend, Burton, played by Doug Chilson. Chilson, a frequent Yellow Taxi performer, looks comfortable in the role. Delle and Chilson set a tone of realism in their performances. 

“I don’t know why you don’t just marry him and buy things,”comments roommate Larry to Anna about Burton.

Wilson gave Larry some of the most quotable, humorous and literary lines in the show. The character is more complex than “witty gay best friend,” and actor Shawn Crapo treats him that way, with an underlying seriousness of someone who carries more burden than they let on.

After much searching, and lots of renting other theaters, Yellow Taxi acquired their own black box venue last year. For Burn This, it’s set up so almost the whole space is the apartment, with two rows of seats facing each other and most of the action in the middle — which allows the audience to feel somewhat like “flies on the wall.” This is the sort of sophisticated, contemporary show that would be wonderful to see more of from Yellow Taxi.

There are three more performances of Burn This, Thursday, May 14, through Saturday, May 16, at 8 p.m., at Yellow Taxi Productions, 5 Pine St. Extension in Nashua. Tickets cost $15 and $25 (www.yellowtaxiproductions.org, 791-4558).

Matt Cahoon, president of YTP’s board of directors said “it’s important to us to continue to do the same kind of work that Suzanne started all those years ago.” The YTP mission is to present “provocative contemporary theater in southern New Hampshire,” he said.

“I certainly think that there’ll be some adjustment,” Cahoon said. Delle, as artistic director and founde,r was doing a lot more work than a full-time staffer for relatively little salary, he said. “I think that in many ways, to replace Suzanne is going to take many, many people,” Cahoon said. She was the driving force behind the company, he said.

Delle is moving out of the area, and let Cahoon know about a month ago. “We’ll miss Suzanne but the company is in a good place,” he said. Delle moved away previously, then returned, to attend an MFA program, he said. Burn This is the show Delle has wanted to do “forever,” and showcases her work, Cahoon said.

• From the field: Letters from soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are performed as monologues while soldiers’ photos and video are projected in Griffin Theatre Company’s play Letters Home. It was inspired by New York Times op-ed “The Things They Wrote” and HBO documentary, Last Letters Home; and also uses correspondences from Frank Schaeffer’s books, Voices From the Front, Letters Home From America’s Military Family, Faith of Our Sons and Keeping Faith.

Letters Home visits the Capitol Center for the Arts Thursday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m., 44 South Main St. in Concord. A community discussion follows. Tickets for military families are complimentary, courtesy of the Citizens Bank Foundation. Others pay $22.50 or $16.50 (225-1111, ccanh.com).

• Trapezing: Sara Greene, who has toured with circuses for the past 15 years, is about to try her hand at starting a performance company. Her studio, “ciel rouge moving co,” has been open for about a week at the Smokestack Center, 8H McGuire St. in Concord, where she will teach aerial dance and physical theater classes. Aerial dance involves trapeze, fabric, rings and “all kinds of invented apparatus,” Greene said.  Interested? Contact Greene at cielrougemovingco@gmail.com or 325-5560.


Casey Preston as Pale and Suzanne Delle as Anna in Burn This, presented by Yellow Taxi Productions. Ceaser Photography Studio photo.

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4/30/2009 Journey to and through Motherhood
4/23/2009 Concord does the Full Monty
4/16/2009 Courtroom drama
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4/2/2009 Curtain calls
3/26/2009 The original sitcom
3/19/2009 Palace to produce The Producers
3/12/2009 British farce and new romantic comedy
3/5/2009 Curtain calls
2/26/2009 Serious stories
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2/12/2009 On Golden Pond writer honored
2/5/2009 Divorce and death
1/29/2009 Red carpet?
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1/15/2009 Money, powqer and family
1/8/2009 Offer your two cents
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12/25/2008 Curtain calls
12/18/2008 BIg things that come in envelopes
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12/04/2008 Remains of an affair
11/27/2008 Ballet — not for the faint of heart
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8/21/2008 Change for the moment
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8/7/2008 Wicked experience
7/31/2008 Merry tales
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7/10/2008 Musical monsters
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3/6/2008 Murder and rhinos
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1/10/2008 Fate of Annicchiarico
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1/4/2007 Fork in the road
12/28/2006 Standout performances of '06
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02/09/2006 An†actors' studio
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01/26/2006 Spring theater season warming up
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