2 actors, 13 stories, lots and lots of laughs

2013-08-08T00:00:00Z 2 actors, 13 stories, lots and lots of laughsKathleen Allen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 08, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Back in the olden days - the late 1980s - actor-comedians Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney developed an almost cult following when the two wrote and acted in "The Kathy and Mo Show: Parallel Lives."

It involved two actors, more than two dozen characters, a simple set and a huge amount of humor. It was a live stage show, and then a television special.

It poked fun at just about everything. While Najimy and Gaffney no longer perform it, theaters around the country have not abandoned it.

In Tucson, the now-defunct Wilde Playhouse staged the play in 2004.

Joan O'Dwyer, the founder of that company, had a college-age daughter, Whitney Morton, who saw it and fell in love with it.

"Years later, my mom and I continue to quote lines from it to each other," says Morton.

So when one of the actors from that '04 production, Lisa Mae Roether, posted on Facebook last year that she loved the play and missed doing the role, Morton glommed on to that and the two began plotting.

Friday, Beowulf Alley Theatre Company opens the Morton-directed production of "Parallel Lives." Roether returns and is joined by Martie van der Voort.

Here's what you can expect:

Lots of little stories

"Parallel Lives" is made up of about 13 quick, unrelated scenes, each vignette telling a contained story.

And the tales run the gamut - in one, an elderly Jewish woman discovers a favorite nephew is gay. It's a hard one for her to take in until she realizes that if she could get used to a microwave oven, she can get used to her nephew's homosexuality.

In another, a tired, drunken old cowboy sits in a bar and makes his nightly proposition to an exhausted, single mother. He gets drunker, she gets drunker, and finally her refusals at his advances become a "yes." Not the outcome that this married codger expected.

In another, a feminist poet lets a poem rip: "We all live in the great uterus of womanhood. / My period. Your period. Let it flow!"

The pace is fast and the skits packed with smart satire and sublime humor.

The actors

Van der Voort and Roether are veterans on Tucson stages, both with performances that live long in the memory. Van der Voort last year was a hoot as Lily Chatterton, a repressed busybody anxious to sniff out pornography in Live Theatre Workshop's production of "Two Into One."

Roether was memorable as a sultry mistress with a ridiculous streak in 2011's "Dead Man's Cell Phone," a production from Chicken Lipps Productions and Studio Connections.

The director's take

While the play draws from feminism, this is not a feminist play, says Morton.

"It's accessible to everyone; it's skewering all kinds of ideologies. It's about relationships, everyday life and the weird arguments that couples have.

"There's something for everyone," she continues. "A lot of plays say that, but I think it's true of this one."

If you go

• What: Beowulf Alley Theatre's production of "Parallel Lives."

• Playwrights: Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney.

• Director: Whitney Morton.

• When: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays through Aug. 25.

• Where: Beowulf Alley Theatre, 11 S. Sixth Ave.

• Tickets: $20, with discounts available.

• Reservations, information: 882-0555.

• Running time: About 2 hours, 15 minutes, with one intermission.

• Cast: Lisa Mae Roether and Martie van der Voort.

• Et cetera: Contains some harsh language.

Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at kallen@azstarnet.com or 573-4128.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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