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Les Belles-Soeurs

Theaters, Actors, Etc.

By Rick Pender · February 1st, 2006 · Curtain Call
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  K. Jenny Jones plays a woman who wins a million trading stamps in Les Belles-Soeurs.
Jason Burgess

K. Jenny Jones plays a woman who wins a million trading stamps in Les Belles-Soeurs.



There's a lot of stamping going on in Northside. Let me clarify that: It's a play in which trading stamps play a central role. Cincinnati theater veteran DALE HODGES is producing Michel Tremblay's landmark Canadian play, LES BELLES-SOEURS (The Sisters-in-Law) in a new venue, The Village Theatre (upstairs at the Hannaford Lodge, 4120 Hamilton Ave.). The play is about a woman who has won a million trading stamps, which she believes will change her dull life. But the stamps must be pasted into books to be redeemed. She invites her sisters and neighbors to join her for a stamp-pasting party -- which results in a gathering that strips away politeness and identifies true friends. The cast requires 15 women, one of the reasons Hodges decided to assemble a production. (She cooked this idea up backstage at the Cincinnati Playhouse with another local veteran, REGINA PUGH, during A Christmas Carol.) Hodges obtained a grant from the city of Cincinnati and recruited director Peter Karapetkov, a native of Bulgaria, to stage the show. The cast is a Who's Who of Cincinnati theater: in addition to Pugh and Hodges, look for K. JENNY JONES (in the central role) plus professional AMY WARNER, WGUC's NAOMI LEWIN and Xavier University theater manager CATHY SPRINGFIELD. The play dates back to 1968, when Tremblay was just 26 -- he depicted women who spoke about taboo subjects (sex, for instance) in tough, working-class French. And where does one go in 2006 to find trading stamps, no longer the commonplace sales incentive device they were four decades ago? Hodges approached the owner of several local Subway franchises, where stamps were used until recently to encourage frequent purchasers. He donated 50 rolls of 5,000 stamps each (each about a foot in diameter), more than enough to keep the actresses stamping for the production's entire run. Opening is Thursday; through Feb. 12. To reserve a seat, call Hodges: 513-861-3912 ... While one-actor shows might be the product of financial belt-tightening, they're also potent drama: There are two of them on local stages -- Thom Pain (based on nothing) at Ensemble Theatre (reviewed on page 42) and Golda's Balcony (see commentary below). When I chatted recently with Valerie Harper about her role in the latter, she mentioned watching Kindertransport, a PBS documentary about the movement of almost 10,000 Jewish children to foster families in England prior to World War II. Interestingly, a stage version of that story is the next offering of OVATION THEATRE COMPANY.

It's getting its regional premiere at the Aronoff Center's Fifth Third Bank Theater (Friday-Feb. 12). Playwright Diane Samuels was inspired by the same documentary to create a poignant play -- also called KINDERTRANSPORT -- about one of the children affected by this wrenching experience. Tickets: 513-621-2787

MINI REVIEWS
One iconic role per actor is the standard rule, but Valerie Harper -- who played Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show back in the '70s -- proves her dramatic versatility by bringing Golda Meir to life in the touring production of GOLDA'S BALCONY, onstage at the Aronoff Center through Feb. 5. The one-woman script is anchored within the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when Meir -- at age 74 -- was prime minister of a beleaguered Israel. Not only does Harper re-create the pragmatic and single-minded leader, she conveys a convincing portrait of her as a woman ahead of her time. In addition, she gives voice to more than 40 other historical characters, from Meir's neglected husband to an intransigent Henry Kissinger. It's a bravura work, beautifully staged and lit. Her story tells us a lot about today's Middle East. Unfortunately, since it's not a musical, Broadway in Cincinnati isn't selling many tickets. If you care about good theater, not to mention the world we live in, you owe it to yourself to see this one. Grade: B+



contact rick Pender: rpender(at)
  K. Jenny Jones plays a woman who wins a million trading stamps in Les Belles-Soeurs.
Jason Burgess

K. Jenny Jones plays a woman who wins a million trading stamps in Les Belles-Soeurs.



There's a lot of stamping going on in Northside. Let me clarify that: It's a play in which trading stamps play a central role. Cincinnati theater veteran DALE HODGES is producing Michel Tremblay's landmark Canadian play, LES BELLES-SOEURS (The Sisters-in-Law) in a new venue, The Village Theatre (upstairs at the Hannaford Lodge, 4120 Hamilton Ave.). The play is about a woman who has won a million trading stamps, which she believes will change her dull life. But the stamps must be pasted into books to be redeemed. She invites her sisters and neighbors to join her for a stamp-pasting party -- which results in a gathering that strips away politeness and identifies true friends. The cast requires 15 women, one of the reasons Hodges decided to assemble a production. (She cooked this idea up backstage at the Cincinnati Playhouse with another local veteran, REGINA PUGH, during A Christmas Carol.) Hodges obtained a grant from the city of Cincinnati and recruited director Peter Karapetkov, a native of Bulgaria, to stage the show. The cast is a Who's Who of Cincinnati theater: in addition to Pugh and Hodges, look for K. JENNY JONES (in the central role) plus professional AMY WARNER, WGUC's NAOMI LEWIN and Xavier University theater manager CATHY SPRINGFIELD. The play dates back to 1968, when Tremblay was just 26 -- he depicted women who spoke about taboo subjects (sex, for instance) in tough, working-class French. And where does one go in 2006 to find trading stamps, no longer the commonplace sales incentive device they were four decades ago? Hodges approached the owner of several local Subway franchises, where stamps were used until recently to encourage frequent purchasers. He donated 50 rolls of 5,000 stamps each (each about a foot in diameter), more than enough to keep the actresses stamping for the production's entire run. Opening is Thursday; through Feb. 12. To reserve a seat, call Hodges: 513-861-3912 ... While one-actor shows might be the product of financial belt-tightening, they're also potent drama: There are two of them on local stages -- Thom Pain (based on nothing) at Ensemble Theatre (reviewed on page 42) and Golda's Balcony (see commentary below). When I chatted recently with Valerie Harper about her role in the latter, she mentioned watching Kindertransport, a PBS documentary about the movement of almost 10,000 Jewish children to foster families in England prior to World War II. Interestingly, a stage version of that story is the next offering of OVATION THEATRE COMPANY. It's getting its regional premiere at the Aronoff Center's Fifth Third Bank Theater (Friday-Feb. 12). Playwright Diane Samuels was inspired by the same documentary to create a poignant play -- also called KINDERTRANSPORT -- about one of the children affected by this wrenching experience. Tickets: 513-621-2787

MINI REVIEWS
One iconic role per actor is the standard rule, but Valerie Harper -- who played Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show back in the '70s -- proves her dramatic versatility by bringing Golda Meir to life in the touring production of GOLDA'S BALCONY, onstage at the Aronoff Center through Feb. 5. The one-woman script is anchored within the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when Meir -- at age 74 -- was prime minister of a beleaguered Israel. Not only does Harper re-create the pragmatic and single-minded leader, she conveys a convincing portrait of her as a woman ahead of her time. In addition, she gives voice to more than 40 other historical characters, from Meir's neglected husband to an intransigent Henry Kissinger. It's a bravura work, beautifully staged and lit. Her story tells us a lot about today's Middle East. Unfortunately, since it's not a musical, Broadway in Cincinnati isn't selling many tickets. If you care about good theater, not to mention the world we live in, you owe it to yourself to see this one. Grade: B+



contact rick Pender: rpender(at)citybeat.com
 
 
 
 

 

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