MONTROSE – Get ready for a sharp, witty comedy when the Magic Circle Players present The Gazebo by Alec Coppel, set to open on Jan. 14.
Coppel, the Australian playwright and novelist, is probably best known for the screenplay of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, and wrote the screenplay for the movie based on his play, also titled The Gazebo, that came out in 1959 – with musical numbers included – starring Glenn Ford, Debbie Reynolds and Carl Reiner.
But the Magic Circle production will be true to the original play, with no music, said Ginny Spaven, who is co-directing with Bob Dietrich, also set designer and stage manager.
The play is good for the whole family since there’s no bad language, and older kids will “get it,” Spaven said.
“There are no kids the cast, but there’s nothing to keep kids from enjoying it,” she said.
Tickets to the general public go on sale after 5 p.m. today, she said. The play will open for evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays from Jan. 14 through Jan. 29, and for matinee performances at 2 p.m. on Sundays, Jan. 23 and Jan. 30. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $8 for students, and are available at the Magic Circle Theater box office or by calling 249-7838 for reservations. The ticket office opens two hours before each performance, so it’s a good idea to call first, Spaven said.
Spaven said she wouldn’t call The Gazebo a “dark” comedy, but it does deal with murder and blackmail, offset by witty repartee and lots of confusion over who did what to whom.
“It’s definitely a comedy, a kind of a spoof,” she said.
The main characters in the play are Elliott Nash, played by Jason McCay of Montrose, and his wife Nell, played by Christina Gonzales of Olathe. Elliott is a TV mystery writer and Nell is a soap opera actress who’s being blackmailed through her husband, who figures the only way out is murder! The new antique gazebo in the back yard seems the perfect hiding place for the body, but confusion reigns when the blackmailer turns up murdered by someone else, leaving Elliott and Nell to wonder: Who’s buried under the gazebo?
“The plot is about how they try to figure out who it is, how he got there and how it really did happen,” Spaven said.
The third lead role is that of Harlow Edison, played by Nick Spaven (the director’s husband); Harlow is a friend of Elliott’s, who’s also a district attorney, who gives him advice on his crime writing. The cast also includes Judy Wind as Mathilda the maid, Jane Gaston as the realtor Mrs. Chandler, Kim Altholff as The Dook, Keith Distel as Louie, Jim Mitchell as Mr. Thorpe, Jim Houghnon as Detective Jenkins, Jeff Groom as Dr. Wyner, and Ray Jantzen as Officer Potts.
Working just as hard behind the scenes, Spaven said, are assistant director Jason McCay, production coordinator Dawn Vaillancourt, and stage manager Ruth Jantzen.
All have been in Magic Circle productions before, and it’s a veteran crew, said Nick Spaven, like a small group of friends who “can depend on each other to bail us out on stage if needed.”
Nick Spaven has appeared in several productions of the Magic Circle Players since the couple moved here to retire three years ago from a suburb of Phoenix, but his wife has gravitated toward directing, he said.
One of the first things they did was buy season tickets to Magic Circle, he said, and got hooked when they decided to go and watch the auditions for Harvey, the classic play by Mary Chase.
“They saw me walk in and smelled fresh meat, so I wound up with a small part and she ended up backstage,” he said, “and we’ve been involved ever since.”
The Spavens were too busy with their careers to get involved in community theater when they were back in Glendale Ariz., Nick said, but are glad they moved to Montrose because it fits their lifestyle, even more than they expected.
“We are avid skiers and motorcyclists and this is a little bit of heaven for us,” he said.