outofsterno3 From left to right, Dotty (Stephanie Spohrer) explains the “appliance art” she has painted on customer Mrs. Peabody’s (Connor Kinzer) toenails, while salon owner Zena (Mahria Zook) looks on in horror in the comedy “Out of Sterno.” The show runs through Oct. 19 at Burien Actors Theatre.[/caption]

From left to right: Dotty (Stephanie Spohrer) makes excuses to her husband, Hamel (Adam Hegg) in the comedy “Out of Sterno.” The show runs through Oct. 19 at Burien Actors Theatre.
From right to left, Dotty (Stephanie Spohrer) learns about being a “real” woman from Barb (Connor Kinzer), the ultra-feminist Dotty meets on the bus in the comedy “Out of Sterno.” The show runs through Oct. 19 at Burien Actors Theatre.

Photos by Mike Wilson.

by Shelli Park“Like Mama always said: ‘Nothing is so horrible that it can’t be explained away.’” And, like an ostrich with her head in the sand, Dotty has lived a static life in service to her ‘“hunk” of a husband, Hamel (Adam Hegg) in the city of Sterno. When we meet Dotty (Stephanie Spohrer), she is a bit manic, a bit frumpy, and full of hope and dreams, and a child-like enthusiasm for every detail of life. She is a beautiful, trusting soul. Dotty stands expectantly in the kitchen engaging in a lively one-sided conversation with the audience, breaking the fourth wall. We feel that we are her only friends. The kitchen, and set as a whole (designed by Albie Clemente) has the feel of a Fun House – off-kilter and whimsical. Spohrer is spot on as this larger-than-life character whose eccentric personality has been cultivated in her one-bedroom petri dish. Elective Blindness is a condition we are be conditioned to accept, to fear to change. It takes courage to overcome and repattern. “Don’t believe what you see, believe what you’re told,” Dotty remembers another bit of her mother’s “wisdom”. Some of these guides take the shape of bus buddies, or a taxi driver, each played by Connor Kinzer. Kinzer is amazing as he embodies each of the characters he plays. His gifted versatility elevates this production. Maria Zook plays Zena, Dotty’s boss, role model and nemesis. The stereotype of this character is well-expressed: the shallow, narcissistic, angry, Jersey beautician. My only complaint is that Zook’s accent waivers at times, which was a little distracting. The complexity of Zena’s role in the plot keeps the story fresh and full of unexpected twists. We witness Dotty’s awakening. She discovers her true Self. As she begins to read more and more her mind opens and even her vocabulary, previously simple, is expanded ten-fold. It is inspiring to witness. Out of Sterno, written by Deborah Zoe Laufer, is a beautiful journey wrapped in caricatures and humor. Rochelle Flynn and Maggie Lerrick, co-directors, have done wonderful work on this production, guiding it in order to achieve maximum impact. It is empowering, with moments of heartache and disbelief thrown in. The universe is conspiring to free Dotty from her prison and her guides present themselves bearing messages and lessons she takes in as she evolves. The ending is powerful. Attend this production ready to receive humor and revelations. And don’t forget – you can save $5 on tickets to this play, which runs through Oct. 19 – with our exclusive coupon:
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The show is suitable for ages 13-plus due to occasional adult language. Ticket prices range from $7 to $20. New this season, student tickets are just $10. For tickets, special deals or other information, go online to www.burienactorstheatre.org or call 206-242-5180. Burien Actors Theatre is located at 14501 4th Ave SW in Burien, in the northwest corner of the intersection of 4th Ave SW and SW 146th Street. For more info, visit http://burienactorstheatre.org or call (206) 242-5180.]]>

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