Central Alberta Theatre is serving up a classic with Last of the Red Hot Lovers in the Nickle Studio, third floor of the Memorial Centre.
Show dates are April 11–27 with curtain set for 7:30 p.m. The lounge opens at 6:45 p.m.
Directed by Albertus Koett, the story focuses on Barney Cashman, a middle-aged, married fellow who wants to join the sexual revolution in the late 1960s before it is too late. Described as ‘a gentle soul with no experience in adultery’, he fails in each of three seductions – Elaine Navazio, a sexpot who likes cigarettes, whiskey, and other women’s husbands; Bobbi Michele, an actress friend who he discovers is ‘madder than a hatter’ and Jeannette Fisher, his wife’s best friend, a ‘staunch moralist’.
Koett, a familiar face to local audiences via his own extensive acting in the community, has directed in the past as well (2009’s Alice in Wonderland for CAT and It’s a Wonderful Life for Ignition Theatre).
He was feeling the urge to be at the helm of a show and landed to opportunity to direct Last of the Red Hot Lovers which was penned by Neil Simon.
“I really appreciate Neil Simon’s writing – it’s more character-driven with realistic dialogue, and it’s less farcical. I really like that about it,” he explains. “It’s not necessarily comedic or dramatic. It is what it is – different people will find different things to take away from this.
“I’m interested to see what the audience reaction is going to be when they see they show, whether they will laugh or feel moved – I don’t know. It has the potential to be funny to someone and deeply meaningful to someone else. Everyone will probably take away something different.”
Featured in the role of Barney Cashman is Curtis Closson – an ideal choice with his likability, explains Koett. “I thought that was very important for Barney.”
Rounding out the cast are Nicole Orr as Elaine, Sarah Hemphill as Bobbi and Rachelle McComb as Jeannette. Working with a small cast was also a highlight.
“There are only two people onstage at once – Barney and one of the girls. So it’s been really nice, because I get to focus on (single) moments much more deeply than I would be able to with a cast of 30 – it’s much different than Alice in Wonderland and It’s a Wonderful Life which had large casts for both shows.
“This gives me and the actors the opportunity to really work on the relationships.”
Koett was also featured in CAT’s rendition of Brighton Beach Memoirs several years ago in Red Deer – another Neil Simon classic that further solidified his appreciation for the famed playwright.
And although he’s an exceptional actor, it’s been the desire to direct that seems to have surfaced more. Not that the desire to hit the stage has gone by the wayside, however.
“I like directing because I get to sit back and watch actors do their thing. That’s one of my favourite things, and guiding them through the process,” he said. “I love to give them a lot of freedom to act and to discover things on their own. It’s a collaborative process.
“I have a vision, but I’m open to their interpretation of their characters.”
Last of the Red Hot Lovers opened on Broadway on Dec. 28, 1969 and closed on Sept. 4, 1971 after 706 performances and six previews. A film version was released in 1972.
Tickets are available at the door or at Black Knight Inn Ticket Centre by calling 403-755-6626 or visiting www.blackknightinn.ca.