The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves is offering patrons more bang for the buck with their current production of “All in the Timing”—it’s buy one ticket, get six one-act comedies.
Comedy, however, just hints at what audiences can expect from these one-acts, all written by David Ives.
“They are mind-numbingly fun, because they will blow your mind,” said Krystal Stevenson of south St. Louis, who has roles in two of the one-act plays. “They are kind of an interesting, existential view of the world in a way, and I think that’s what makes it more interesting, because it’s done in a very comical way that we all can relate to.”
“All in the Timing” will be performed March 16 to March 18 and March 22 to March 25, with evening shows at 8 p.m. and the Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Stevenson appears in “Words, Words, Words,” which addresses what three monkeys talk about while they are typing into infinity in an effort to recreate Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” She is also in “Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread,” in which a celebrated composer has an existential crisis at the bakery.
The other one-acts are “Sure Thing,” about two people who meet in a café and find their way through a conversational minefield on the way to falling in love while an offstage bell interrupts their gaffes; “The Universal Language,” in which a young woman with a stutter falls in love with a man who has created a wild comic language; “The Philadelphia,” about a young man who has entered into a Twilight Zone of a restaurant where he must order the opposite of what he wants in order to get what he really wants; and “Variations on the Death of Trotsky,” which depicts the Russian revolutionary, on the day of his death, desperately trying to cope with the climber’s axe lodged in his head.
“It’s a classic collection of one acts,” said director Angela Sebben Frick of Affton. “They’re very witty, clever, and very well-written.”
“It’s definitely fast-paced, and it just has a lot of energy,” Stevenson said of the production. “It’s definitely for people who are looking for something kind of different—not of the norm—if they want a new theatrical experience.”
The cast also features Paul Cooper, Sarah Keeven, Sarah Nash, Jamie Linsin, Sherman Doyle, Estee Schwartz, Rob Stevenson, Terry Donnelly, John Urbanek, Mark Zoole and Jan Niehoff, with Betsy Gasoske as assistant director. Frick is thrilled with the cast, all of whom have day jobs and act because they love it.
“They’re not getting paid for this,” Frick said, “but this is a passion of all of theirs. I lucked out—everyone is amazingly talented. You couldn’t ask for a better cast. The chemistry between everybody is fantastic. A few people are in multiple (acts), some just in one. But they all play a huge, huge role.”
Auditions were held in January, and rehearsals started shortly after that, memorizing lines and working on transitions for this aptly named production.
“It’s all about the timing with these pieces,” Frick said. “Just working on getting that flow and timing down.”
As director, Frick helps the actors work out stage movement and understand their characters. She is also an actor, which helps her understand how to get the best performances out of the cast.
“With my big acting background, I focus in on getting those characters down to a ‘T’ and then working on the flow, the inflections, the timing of how everything’s being said, and just making sure we time it perfectly to the way Ives has written it, because then it really punches up the jokes even more,” she said.
The jokes range from subtle to laugh out loud, Frick said, and give the actors opportunities to shine. Whether acting or directing, Frick is pleased to be a part of bringing a production to life.
“I just enjoy telling a story,” she said. “Whether I’m behind the scenes or on the stage, the one actually telling it, I think it’s just a unique way to connect with people.”
Even in comedies, there is some sort of message, or something the audience will benefit from, she said.
“It’s neat if an audience member can walk away saying, ‘Hey, I learned something new,’ or ‘Hey, that made me feel good.’ I think that’s why I’ve always gravitated to theater—just the storytelling aspect of it,” Frick said.
The Theatre Guild is situated in an old two-story house, with a ground floor lobby packed with photos from previous performances and a cozy, 128-seat theater on the second floor. Krystal Stevenson, who has been acting for six years and worked behind the scenes before that, loves the intimacy of the theater.
“As an actor, you kind of gauge the audience in your performance,” she said. “So the more we are able to feel and be a part of the audience, the more the audience can be a part of the show. That’s the intimacy they have, and it’s great. You don’t get that a lot of places.”
Plus, acting is a blast, and actors feed off the energy of the audience.
“It’s kind of an exhilarating experience,” Stevenson said. “You have something completely different. You have something completely new, and every night is different. … It’s kind of like in the moment. Having it in the moment is where that excitement and exhilaration comes from, as an actor.”
is located at 517 Theatre Lane, Webster Groves. Show times are 8 p.m. March 16-17 and 23-24, and 2 p.m. March 18 and 25.
Tickets are $15 adults, $12 students and seniors and are only available at the door, payable by cash or check. For more information, call the theater at 314-962-0876 or see www.theatreguildwg.org.