Estevan Montemayor and Emily Barrow Wanna get ahead in Tzar’s nineteenth-century Russia? You better be nice to government officials. A bribe or two wouldn’t hurt. As well as anything else he might want.

Such is the setting for Nicolai Gogol’s classic Russian comedy that pokes fun at and laments the situation he saw all around him, with people eagerly selling their souls for an opportunity to be in good standing with the government. Dramaturg Roxana Dhada notes that the head of this system, Tzar Nicholas I, surprisingly let the play be produced, saying “Everyone gets it, and I most of all.”

Director Ashley Adams made this the first production of Canyon Crest’s new Proscenium Theatre, a spacious, classy, state-of-the-art theatre space that would make most professional theatre companies in the county green with envy. Upon that stage sits the stately home of a provincial mayor. When word reaches that home about an undercover government inspector coming to town, the mayor and his wife and daughter aim to make sure they keep their nice home. And when impoverished Khlestakov finds himself mistaken for the government inspector, his impoverished days may soon be over.

Emily Barrow and Tiffany GainesEstevan Montemayor stars as lucky Khlestakov, reacting with nervousness when the mayor first comes around, then really shining in the role when he realizes the misunderstanding and begins taking advantage of it by smugly accepting bribes from everyone and wolfishly accepting romantic overtures from both the mayor’s wife and daughter. David McClurg is the town’s big-talking and spineless mayor. The scenes between Khlestakov and the mayor’s wife and daughter, Anna and Marya, are the highlights of this show. Emily Barrow is the bad-tempered, prima donna, seductive, and “fairly married” wife who is eager for an affair with a well-connected man. She’s jealous, but willing to share him with her daughter Marya. With her perfect blend of nervousness, innocence, and excited desire, Tiffany Gaines is hilarious as Marya, her Shirley Temple curls adding to the great effect.

The cast includes a variety of eccentric townsfolk that include, but are not limited to, a hunchbacked maid with Audrey Rhodes as a good physical comedian, a postmaster who punctuates her sentences with outlandish expressions and reads everyone’s mail (Caitlin Curl), a Commissioner for Health (Connor Murphy) who is trying desperately to keep to himself the beautiful doctor (Anna Lackey) who only speaks German, and Ally Snyder in the only serious role as the head of three shopkeepers who are pushed down by the elitist heads of society. And last but not least, there is the exuberant and inseparable pair of Bobchinsky and Dobchinsky, with Ryan Sandrew and Austin Wermers playing off each other with comic brilliance as Bobchinsky acts as their spokesman punctuated by vital inserts from Dobchinsky while they inform everyone that the stranger Khlestakov is most certainly the feared government inspector.

Ashley Adams’s production is a very successful opening for their new theatre – a seldom-performed, well-acted, slapstick satire. Craig Dettman’s set seems to flow with the surrounding theatre, and Costume Designer Karla Alvey’s dresses for the mayor’s wife and daughter, which include outrageously puffy sleeves, add to the characters’ pathetic opulence so pathetically derived.

Performed December 14-16, 2006.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Mayor: David McClurg
Anna: Emily Barrow
Marya: Tiffany Gaines
Magistrate: Max Anderson
Commissioner for Health: Connor Murphy
Director of Education: Cory Gordon
Postmaster/Avdotya: Caitlin Curl
Bobchinsky: Ryan Sandrew
Dobchinsky: Austin Wermers
Doctor: Anna Lackey
Police Superintendent, Sergeant's Widow: Dan Kohnler
Police Constable: Katie Balch
Khlestakov: Estevan Montemayor
Osip: Matthew Herman
Mishka: Audrey Rhodes
Waitress/Magistrate's Wife: Hannah Swenson
Locksmith's Wife/Khlopov's Wife: Lauren Alvey
Abdulin/Korobkin's Wife: Ally Snyder
Shopkeeper: Chris Braden
Korobkin, Shopkeeper: Keegan Porter
Gendarme: Brian Shay

Director: Ashley Adams
Assistant Director/Stage Manager: Kate Sugar
Set and Light Designer: Craig Dettman
Costume Design and Production: Karla Alvey
Sound Design: Travis Prater


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