We had an enjoyable evening at Dukesbay Theatre with their dress rehearsal of their latest production, which featured love letters never sent . . . sexual conquests never begun . . . urges held in check . . . urges facing checkmate . . . revelations of love and ownership . . . and much more.
The Waltz of the Toreadors premiered in Paris 1952 and on Broadway in 1957. It was also a 1962 film starring Peter Sellers.
This well-paced farce is set in 1910 France. Self-absorbed and blustery General Léon Saint-Pé has an infatuation with a young girl whom he danced at a ball 17 years earlier. Trapped in a loveless marriage to a hypochondriac, the General dreams of true love, aches for his lost youth, and searches for the courage to move forward; and has a thing for maids. Unexpectedly, the not so young woman appears at his door, hand in glove and pistol in her purse demanding to finally start her life with him.
The general is thrilled, animated, and worried. He has his memoirs to write, a wife to placate, and two ugly daughters (although the actors are not ugly) to contend with.
Jean Anouilh’s play has quite a following in the U.K, but is rarely done here in America. The Waltz of the Toreadors was chosen and directed by Randy Clark, theatrical veteran of the Pacific Northwest.
Eric Ray Anderson as the general responds with both humor and sadness as the aging general. The play is rated PG for occasional sexual innuendo.
When I was on the Tacoma Actors Guild board I saw Anderson in the farce The Mystery of Irma Vep. As a board member I volunteered to usher at the theater. I don't know how many times I saw the play, but it was too many. I never wanted to see the play, nor Eric Ray Anderson, again. And, yet, twenty years later here we are.
Continually being harried into corners, General Léon Saint-Pé showed his weariness by patting the sweat away from his forehead with a handkerchief while wearing a three piece suit . . . I don't think it was an act.
The theater itself reminded me of the Theater Schmeater digs on Capitol Hill a few years ago. Wider than deep. Front row people are just inches from the stage floor. The staging was excellent. It was a simple but effective set, giving the feeling of a garden below and changed easily from a living room to a large bedroom.
The actors gave a good account of themselves. The Waltz of the Toreadors features the talents of a multi-racial cast, which include Eric Ray Anderson (Member of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States, appearing under a Special Appearance Contract) as the retired general, Joseph Grant (who could pass for Doc Adams of Gunsmoke) as the family doctor, Aya Hashiguchi as the demanding wife, Kathryn Grace Philbrook as the lover in waiting, Tim Takechi as the secretary, Audrey Montague, Maria Valenzuela, Jackie Villava-Cua and Jeffery Weaver. Some actors played multiple parts.
As a dress rehearsal it was excellent. There were no long pauses, no badly muffed lines, no late entrances on stage. It wasn't perfect, but after a couple of performances it may be.
Dukesbay Productions is located at 508 S. Sixth Ave #10, Tacoma, WA 98402 (in the Merlino Art Center - two floors above The Grand Cinema. Tickets may be purchased on-line.