- Many a live theater has come and gone. Clavis, Nevermore,
Bialystock and Bloom, the Brookfield Players, the Milwaukee
Shakespeare Company and Theatre X are just a few names that
come to mind.
Boulevard Theatre’s present offering of “The Old Garde”
explores the many challenges that beset a theatrical company,
especially a small one with a specific mission. The Boulevard
should know, and that may be one of the reasons that director
Mark Bucher was attracted to this new work by Bruce Murphy, a
format of many dramatic snippets, the actors explore some of
the problems that beset those involved in theater - choosing
between your aesthetic taste and the demands of an audience,
keeping your relationship with other actors separate from your
personal life, finding financial supporters to supplement
ticket proceeds, attracting talented actors, techies,
directors and playwrights, not to mention people with business
and marketing skills. It is a complex venture, and “The Old
Garde” captures some of that, even the old standby of art
for art’s sake versus art for profit.
character represents some of the stereotypes regarding theater
people - the struggling founder of the company, the
playwright, the self-centered actor enamored with his own ego,
the woman who wants a career but also wants a family, the rich
patron who feels needed but used, the actor who turns to
commercialism to survive, and the actor who blurs the line
between her role in a play with her other roles in her life.
somewhat disjointed first act might have been better served by
using spot lighting, so one short scene could more quickly
transition into another. Act II had a better flow to it. The
music between scenes was well-chosen and helped to fill the
definitely got a feel for the intricacies of running a
successful theater and the compromises inherent in the
process. It’s a wonder that we have as many theater
companies in this area as we do that are somehow managing to
actors are all convincing in their roles - Nigel Wade as the
harried producer and playwright; Marion Araujo as the actor
somewhat torn between her husband and the flatteries of her
fellow actor; Don Lobacz, the handsome stud very interested in
his next exploit; Nicole Gorski-Ray, the actor sick of type
casting who would rather take on her role as a mother; Jason
Will, the performer who
is sick of working for a pittance when he can make more money
doing ads on TV; and Bucher, who represents the dreaded
critic, although he ends up being right on in the end; and
Christine Horgan, the devoted financial supporter.
It is a
generous gift to a playwright to give him a showcase for his
new work. “The Old Garde” needs some tweaking, but it
shows great promise. It is easy to be critical, but one is
usually less so if one has actually been in the fray. This
show has three more performances this weekend.
Garde” stages 8 p.m. shows today and Saturday and a 2:30
p.m. matinee Sunday at the Boulevard Theatre, 2252 S.
Kinnickinnic Ave., Milwaukee. Call 414-744-5757 or visit
www.boulevardtheatre.com for tickets.