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Today's word on

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Scene: Calvin and Hobbes are reading the newspaper.

Calvin: "I like following the news! News organizations know I won't sit still for any serious discussion of complex and boring issues. They give me what I want: Antics. Emotional confrontation. Sound bites. Scandal. Sob stories and popularity polls all packaged as a soap opera and horse race! It's very entertaining."

Hobbes: "Then commentators wonder why the public is cynical about politics."

Calvin: "You can tell this is an in-depth story because it's got an article next to a chart."

--Calvin & Hobbes by cartoonist Bill Watterson, 2005


Old Lyric winding up a season of professionalism and fun

By Liz Lawyer

August 3, 2005 | Although it's only a small-town theater tucked in Cache Valley, the Caine Old Lyric Theater has all the charm and clean-cut professionalism of an off-Broadway theater.

The Caine Theater, home to the Old Lyric Repertory Company, was built in 1913 and has a turn-of-the-century feel to it, with red velvet seats and its very own ghost named Everett, who has a fetish for country music, said Jeremy Gordon, public relations manager for the company.

"Rumor has it there's a body buried under there," said Katie Ackerman, a student performer with the company, tapping her foot on the cement floor of the men's costume room.

The legend fits well with one of the shows running this summer at the OLRC, Arsenic and Old Lace, in which Ackerman plays Elaine Harper. The American classic by Joseph Kesselring is about two matronly women who perform charity by ending the loneliness of old men -- with poisoned elderberry wine -- and then burying them in the cellar.

Also showing at the Caine Theater are You Can't Take It With You, The Fantasticks and Tennesee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. All four were hits when they premiered in New York City on- and off-Broadway.

The OLRC has its last shows of the season this week. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof shows Wednesday, The Fantasticks shows Thursday, Arsenic and Old Lace shows Friday, and You Can't Take It With You shows Saturday. Curtain time is 8 p.m. each night, with an additional matinee performance at 2 p.m. for the Saturday performance of You Can't Take It With You.

Besides Arsenic and Old Lace, Ackerman also has roles as Gay Wellington in You Can't Take It With You and Mae in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

The OLRC maintains close ties to Utah State University. The creative director, Colin Johnson, is the theater department head at the university. The OLRC also allows theater students to perform, which gives them a chance to work with professional actors.

Professional actors, some of them members of the Actors' Equity Association headquartered in New York, come from all over the country to perform with the company.

"We usually get two or three guest artists, usually from L.A. or New York. There's a few actors every year from Salt Lake, Wyoming -- regional actors -- and smaller roles are usually filled by students and local actors, so it's a mix," said Gordon.

Ackerman said the mix of amateur and professional actors adds a different element to the theater.

"The actors are very willing to share their ideas with us," Ackerman said

Tyson Smith, a professional actor who graduated from USU, said the OLRC is a "nice, laid-back company to work for" compared with other theaters he's been involved with. Plus, he said, getting paid helps make long rehearsals less of an imposition and less irritating, as opposed to student theater, where "not getting paid makes for angry, bad times."

Smith's roles this season include Ed in You Can't Take it With You, Matt in The Fantasticks, and Officer O'Hara in Arsenic and Old Lace.

Smith said working with older, more experienced actors was not that different from other companies.

"After a certain point it doesn't feel that different. We don't revere them, we just talk about Mickey Rooney instead of Hilary Duff," he said.

Ackerman and Smith agreed that compared to student theater, the professional company has increased dedication, intensity, and efficiency. However, mishaps do happen. For example, during the final dress rehearsal for You Can't Take It With You, a special effect set off the smoke alarm, driving the actors to the safety of a back alley.

"It's a mixture of a high degree of professionalism, and creative energy, and chaos," Gordon said. "Everyone is so passionate about it. I like the fact that everyone takes so much pride in their work. I like the fact that come crunch time everyone is stretched so thin, that all of that fire and energy comes to a point and it's just passionate. I just like that breaking point right before, when everyone is going non-stop."

Having four shows crammed into one theater only adds to the chaos. Backstage, four sets are lined up along the walls, and in the basement two rooms are stuffed full of costume racks. In the actors' dressing rooms, wigs line the counters and make-up charts are pinned to the mirrors. But mayhem is an inherent part of theater.

The Lyric phantom, Everett, is fabled to have been an actor performing as the second gravedigger in Hamlet. The first gravedigger was jealous because he wasn't getting as many laughs as Everett, and one day the second gravedigger stopped showing up for performances, and the first gravedigger had a new skull for his scene. Now Everett sits on the right side of the balcony to view performances, occasionally calling out to actors or technicians.

Tickets can be reserved by calling (435) 752-1000. More information can be found online at


Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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