Non-Reviewer Doesn’t Review Breeders Theater’s “Snowbound”

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by Mark Neuman

We had a regularly scheduled staff meeting at The B-Town Blog’s dorm room-like offices Wednesday morning, where a non-regularly scheduled question was asked.

“Hey Neuman. Can you do a review of the dress rehearsal of the comedy ‘Snowbound’ at E.B. Foote Winery (BTB Advertiser) tonight?”

“Well, uh, I’ve never actually reviewed an actual play before,” I stammered.

“Good,” said Blog Editor Scott Schaefer. “I’ll expect your review in the morning.”

Great. What do I do now?

Honesty is the best policy I reminded myself, so hours before I arrived at the winery, home of many Breeder Theater’s productions over the past several years, I “pre-wrote” my opening review paragraphs, which I now present, for the reader’s approval:

In the spirit of full disclosure it should be noted that, first of all, in addition to never having reviewed a play before, I met ‘Snowbound’s’ author, playwright T.M. Sell, almost a third of a century ago, while hanging out at the Highline Community College newsroom, where my pals would, late at night, put the school newspaper, The Thunderword, to bed, as they say in the biz.

Second, I intended the above paragraph to be as run-on-ish as it appears.

Third, I was lucky enough to have made the pleasant acquaintance of ‘Snowbound’s’ director, Michael Brunk, last year. He is a brilliant Photographer, and we work together with Schaefer on the blog.

Michael’s skill with the camera is amazing. He reaches the summit on his photographic mountain climbs so amazingly frequently that we blog staffers just stare skyward and declare: ‘Good Brunksmanship!’

And fourth, speaking of E.B. Foote Winery, I actually know THE E.B. Foote. The Footes were among my best friends growing up, going way back to first grade. Chris Foote and I visited his parents as they were just finishing building out their first winery, in South Park, also about a third of a century ago.

Okay. Full disclosure is out of the way.

At the winery Wednesday night, minutes before the house lights did what house lights do just before a play is about to start, I looked over and Thank Goodness there was my blog colleague Gina Bourdage, with her friend Jack, who reminds one of a quiet and calm Jack Black.

“I’ll be doing the review of the play tonight,” said Gina, confidently. Wisely, Schaefer had recalculated the assignment.

“And I’ll just tell the story of a Regular Joe such as myself who never sees theater,” I responded.

“Fine,” smiled Gina as she and Mr. Black moved on.

Relieved, to say the least, that Ms. Bourdage would handle the rough stuff, I felt free to muse over and note such things as the jar full of multicolored M&M’s at the table of hors d’oeuvres.

“M&M’s at the hors d’oeuvres table!” I said to myself, because, well, no one else was within earshot. “Clearly Sell’s and Brunk’s contracts demanded the confection. And just as clearly, the winery refused to be limited to just one color, Led Zeppelin style. Or was it The Who? Lynyrd Skynyrd? Well, anyway.”

Gina will provide details of the play under a different headline, but let me give you a thumbnail of “Snowbound”:

Dean Martin plays an airline pilot who has an affair with a beautiful flight attendant, played by Jacqueline Bisset…

Then…oops, sorry…those are my notes from the first film I reviewed, “Airport,” for the Lafayette Elementary School Gazette back in 1970.

Let’s see here. Lemme get a little better organized. Okay. Here we go:

“Snowbound” is a mirthful production that concerns a group of unique personalities stuck in a lodge near the pass, just off I-90, in a wicked snow storm. The roads are all closed for the foreseeable future. And wouldn’t you know it? An inmate has escaped from the state pen in Monroe. A killer, perhaps? Is he among those stuck in the lodge?

What will T.M Sell think of next? See the play (it starts this Friday, Jan. 15th), and find out. It’s terrific, especially for the $20 price, which includes wine tastings, hors d’ouevres and of course, a great and entertaining play chock full of lots of Sellishness and Brunksmanship (you can buy tickets online here).

Stage Manager, Andrew Pogue, when asked before the show what advice he gives to anyone about to stage manage their first play, said: “Don’t start out with ‘Annie.’ And use checklists. Lots and lots of checklists.”

When asked after the dress rehearsal by this reporter what advice he had for anyone wanting to write their first play, T.M. Sell said “Know what you want to write, and stick with it. The initial writing part is relatively easy. It’s the rewriting process that can be difficult.”

He then said “Now Neuman, please go away and don’t contact me again for another third of a century.” (Just kidding, folks.)

Nancy Warren arranged the music and sang beautifully. Word is that regular Breeder Theater goers complain if Nancy does not sing somewhere during a performance.

An audience member, who I will refer to as “Becky” because, well, her name IS Becky, said “Of the four Breeder Theater plays I’ve seen, ‘Snowbound’ is the funniest. I laughed repeatedly.”

Kelly Johnson, who plays Glenda, the mother of Binky, has been acting since childhood. She has advice for prospective actors about to read for their first part: “Go bravely,” said the auburn beauty.

Go, ready to enjoy yourself, to “Snowbound.” I heartily recommend it. It runs through January 31st.


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