Friday, October 29, 2010

Posted on Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 5:51 PM

at the Civic's Studio Theatre through Nov. 14

As a script, The Cemetery Club has some weaknesses. The three main characters are almost (not quite) reducible to types. It's not hard to predict one of the main plot developments, and you can just tell which debates will transpire and which characters will be on which side. The ending leans toward the maudlin.

After reading it, Bobo was expecting an episode the The Golden Girls, just focused more firmly on death (but with the character types and one-liner rimshots pretty much intact). 

The fact that Cemetery Club reaches past that level is due to a couple of factors: the immediacy of live theater, and the talents of this production's three merry widows: Melody Deatherage, Mary Starkey and Susan Hardie. 

At one point, Tom Heppler (as the eligible widower who is the cynosure of every widow in Ivan Menchell's play) is making small talk in the living room of one of the widows. He gestures toward a pipe rack — anything to make small talk — and mutters something about how he didn't know that her deceased husband was a smoker. On the page, it's just a stage direction; but in Heppler and Deatherage's hands, it becomes a moment. The pipes are all that remain of Murray; both onstage characters, in their different ways, acknowledge the loss. A lot is left unspoken, and is all the more powerful for that — powerful, because the audience has to process the significance for themselves. A prop that we'd overlooked becomes the focus of grief, and Heppler, Deatherage, and director Heather McHenry-Kroetch — all three — handled the moment with subtlety.

Or the second scene: Each widow talking to her husband's gravestone. On the page, except for some cross-cut conversation, it seemed straightforward. But in live performance — Bobo's only stating the obvious here — you're in the same room as three grieving women, and the emotional impact multiplies. And yet another advantage: the three gravestones remain rooted just outside the realistic living-room set. Unlike the reading experience, when you watch the Club members in action, the sense of death and dying is never far away.

Hardie has the scene-stealing role — the flirty, embittered one — and she duly steals scenes ... but not without also finding the serious side of come-hither-and-let's-have-some-fun widow on the prowl. Some of Hardie's second-act revelations were just as impressive, in their way, as her earlier flouncing and flamboyance as some kind of Jewish Dolly Parton. She acts like she owns the joint; then, when the insecurities peep through, Hardie makes them convincing too. It's a powerful performance, unlike most of Hardie's other roles, and she becomes the center of attention (when appropriate) in most of what she does.

Starkey slits her eyes in disapproval throughout — but whereas it's in genuine disapproval early on, she finds the comedy in being a killjoy later on. And Deatherage does some of the most subtle acting of her local career with Ida's understated disappointments and small victories. Her reluctance at her husband's grave — clutching her purse, she'd like to move on with her life, but she's afraid of offending him (several years dead now) — is affecting. 

Some comic three-way bickering over their ages is nearly as quick and accomplished as a bit of Marx Brothers shtick. The cast is good at doing nervous pauses and making them seem real. 

It's the little things that make a staged conversation feel lived-in, and two examples would include the un-commented on business of sugar lumps in Lucille's tea and the matter-of-fact way that she flips (in a gossipy way) through another woman's mail: She's intrusive, and almost aware of how intrusive she is, and yet neither director nor actor are going to make any intrusive comments about it. 

There are lots of understated features of this show like that. These women happen to be Jewish; they could be Presbyterian, but they happen to be Jewish. No big deal. It's not their sole, defining characteristic. Stereotypes are hinted at, but not more. Heppler has an amazing moment when he expresses disbelief over the 40 years that passed between kneeling to propose and kneeling by his wife's grave. 

McHenry-Kroetch let a couple of scene-endings fall flat, lingering too long, and there are some fixable backs-to-the-audience moments, but generally her directing lets the actors create comfortably.

Menchell wrote a well-made play (the echo, in two different contexts, of "I'll see ya when I see ya" is emotionally effective), and Bobo wishes he could write something just as accomplished. At the same time, The Cemetery Club, while satisfying and funny and sad, never quite rises above the formulaic. It's a lot of widows — pro, con and in the middle on the issue of grieving and moving on — and you can always sense the playwright's hand at work (not just in the witty one-line jokes, but in the play's overall shape). Still, it's a mostly engaging evening, and a very well acted one.

(Bobo had more to say, but he's blathered on long enough, and it's taken him a week to produce this much, and besides, as usual, he can't read most of his notes anyway.)

The Cemetery Club • Thurs-Sat 7:30 pm, Sun 2 pm (through Nov. 14) • $18; $9, student rush • Firth J. Chew Studio Theatre • Dean Ave. and Howard St. • • 325-2507

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Posted By on Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 4:00 PM

You know Pat Smick, right? If you've been to a punk rock show in the past 20 years in Spokane, you know the man. Well, I'm pretty sure tonight is his birthday — after all, it takes an occasion to get Buttermilk 5 on stage. The long-retired and recently revived local punk rock outfit rocks it again tonight with Silver Treason and DJ Smickage at Mootsy’s. And if it's not his birthday, give him a hug anyway. 9 pm. $5 to get in. Gotta be 21.

It's not live music, but the lovely ladies and gentleman of Pasties & Paddles always dance to some pretty amazing stuff. Their Halloween show, Burlesque of the Dead, takes place tonight (and tomorrow) at the Lion's Lair from 9 pm to 2 am. Apparently there's a "costume contest to win a dead corpse." Sweet. I'm there. Stay for the dance party afterward. It's $10 for the whole night. Gotta be 21, though.

Saturday nights generally have a Latin theme at Aclub, but tomorrow night Milonga — a long-standing local Latin outfit — takes things up a notch with their Halloween de los Muertos show. Show kicks off at 9 pm. Wear a costume — preferably something dance-friendly. $7. Gotta be 21.

Before iPods, CD players and Walkmen, there were records. And Pickwick, a Seattle band, is showing their love for the medium by releasing a series of five 45s over the course of five shows. When they're all out, the band will compile them all together into a concept album inspired by the "conspiracies, tragedies and myths" that they've encountered. The band plays Empyrean tomorrow with Ivan & Aloysha and Pablo Trucker. 7 pm. $8. All-ages.

On the eve of its demise, the Seaside hosts a pretty epic Halloween cover show. Matthew Winters does his best Alkaline Trio (not much of a stretch), Mon Cheri plays a series of cover songs and local punk rockers Small Town Nation play the Offspring (again, not a stretch). But then I guess the Elk Kitchen Staff quit for the night, because they're on the bill to take the Seaside stage as the Misfits. Should be amazing. Wear a costume. 9 pm. $10. Gotta be 21.


It's always sad to see that space at 230 W. Riverside shut down, but at least this time they're ending with a bang. Mike Herrera from MxPx brings his new punk-country band, Tumbledown, to town to play the finale of the Seaside. Check out our story on Tumbledown here. Ed Revel and the Butchers, the Camaros and No Con John open. 9:30 pm. $8. Gotta be 21.

After selling out venues in Philadelphia, DC, Atlanta, Boston and a host of other cities, Best Coast comes to play our neck of the woods on Sunday night. The girl-fronted band makes this great lazy, lo-fi. beachy California sound. Check out our story about front-lady Bethany Cosentino’s boy-obsessed lyrics here, and definitely do not miss this show. Best Coast plays at Stage54 (25 E. Lincoln Rd) with Sonny & the Sunsets, No Joy and the Young Professionals at 7:30 pm. $15 at the door. All-ages. 

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Posted By on Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 2:06 PM

It sounds absurd to call comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert the most powerful pundits in America — at least, until you ask "Who else?"

An even easier label is "Most Powerful Comedians in America." Who else could give what is, essentially, a spoof,  a cast of hundreds of thousands?

After Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally at the national mall, fans of Stewart's Daily Show and Colbert's Colbert Report wanted Stewart and Colbert to put on a rally of their own. 

And so they will. Tomorrow, from noon to 3 pm EST, Stewart will gather his followers in Washington D.C. for a "Rally to Restore Sanity." Enough with the rallies for the crazies, the extremists, and the screamers, Stewart said. 

Here's a rally for the rest of us, those who believe their opponents are, in all likelihood, not Hitler. Who are unwilling to boil down foreign policy to a 1:1 blood-oil conversion. Who believe words like "socialist," "communist," or "antichrist" should be reserved for actual socialists, communists, or false prophets claiming the mantle of Christ and ushering in seven years of Armageddon. 

It's a cry, not for change or for revolution, but for being decent and reasonable. 

Colbert, meanwhile, goes for a more straightforward spoof, with his March to Keep Fear Alive, facetiously "reminding" America that fear is the stuff that keeps our nation strong. 

I suspect the attendance at the rallies will rival — probably even surpass — Beck's rally.

On the surface, at least, it seems that the apparent goals are almost contradictory. Stewart’s team wants to restore dignity and nuance to the public debate; Colbert wants to mock the conservative pundits as unhinged fearmongerers.

Some Democrats nationally have edged away, worrying that rally that might seem to be making fun of tea partiers. 

The national rally, however, has intentionally aimed for being non-partisan — or "anti-partisan." 

But not in Spokane. Spokane's "Restoring Sanity" rally, starting at noon at Riverfront Park, is hosted by the Spokane County Democrats. 

Stewart and Colbert will not be attending the Spokane rally, obviously. But the Spokane County Democrats did score a comedic coup of their own: Paula Poundstone, who will be performing at the Bing Crosby Theatre that night, will perform at the rally. Poundstone, often a guest on NPR's “Wait, Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me...” is no stranger to political humor. 

Other speakers include Democratic politicians Chris Marr and Andy Billig, business owners John Waite and Nima Motahari, pastor Paul Rodkey, and comics Will Gillman, Jim Green and Marten Hoyle.

Over 300 have RSVPed "attending" on Facebook, though the rally’s organizer, Spokane County Democrats chair Amy Biviano, expects the rain to depress turnout. 

Spokane's rally is happening after the national rally has already been completed (it's a timezone thing) but the DC rally can be watched at Isabella’s from 9 am to noon.

So if the national rally is not officially affiliated with a party, why is Spokane's? 

"We feel that [Stewart's message] is absolutely indicative of our approach to politics. It’s not our party doing the screaming," Biviano says, "We want to have reasonable discussion." (She says the anti-war protests during George W. Bush's presidency never reached the levels of disrespect we’re seeing today.)

And hey, the Republican Party was invited, she says. 

But Curt Fackler, spokeperson for the Spokane County GOP, says they have other plans. Dino Rossi is holding a last-minute rally at the Quality Inn at 1:30 pm tomorrow. 

Biviano doesn't think they'd be interested in it anyway. 

"Anybody who watches Jon Stewart would say, 'I don’t think a conservative would be a huge fan of Jon Stewart'." Biviano says. "Maybe Colbert." 

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Posted By on Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 1:33 PM

From the terrifying to the not-so-scary events The Inlander knows them all. If you’re looking for a place to catch a zombie flick or even a church harvest party to take your kids to, you’re in the right place. We list them all for you. But first we’ll start with the scary

In the French film La Horde a group of police officers raid a house to find a criminal gang responsible for the death of a colleague when instead they encounter a group of cannibal zombies. Presented by the Spokane International Film Festival, this showing is both a fundraiser for the group and a chance to see a really awesome zombie flick. Shows on Friday, Oct. 29, at 11:59 pm. Cost: $5.

The following night features a zombie film of the local variety. Shot, edited and produced by local filmmakers, the film 28 Hours Later: The Zombie Movie, will premier on Saturday, Oct. 30, at 9 pm, at the Garland Theater. Lots of zombie creatures are expected to be in attendance.

Looking haunted attractions? Here’s a list of local places offering up scares for Halloween.

RIVERFRONT FRIGHT The Pavilion is now haunted. Now through Halloween from Wednesday-Sunday in Riverfront Park the goblins and ghouls will be let out. Cost: $8.

CREEPY HALLOW Northwest of Spokane, in Nine Mile Falls, the locale that is normally reserved for the annual Renaissance Festival becomes the haunted village in October. Full of crazy characters, this haunted attraction is certainly the most entertaining. While you wait, stand by the fire or get a Tarot card reading. Cost: $5.

SCARYWOOD Our local version of Knott’s Berry Farm Haunt. Some of Silverwood’s theme rides are now tours of terror, Thunder Canyon is a haunted house, and the normally docile train ride now travels to a zombie war zone. Cost: $25.

LION’S CLUB HAUNTED HOUSE This annually feared favorite is located on the corner of Post and Fourth streets in Post Falls. Open Tuesdays-Thursdays from 6-10 pm and Fridays and Saturdays from 6 pm-midnight. Cost: $6.

If you’re looking for something a little less scary Mobius Kids is having a Broomstick Bash on Sunday, from 5:30-7:30 pm. A Halloween Carnival will be at the South Hill’s Woman’s Club on Saturday,  from 6-8 pm. The First Church of the Nazarene on Country Homes Blvd. will host a harvest party on Sunday, from 6-8 pm.

For a full list of events pick up an Inlander at one of a gazillion places around town and turn it to page 53.

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Posted on Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 11:43 AM

At Lake City Playhouse in Coeur d’Alene, The Elephant Man opens tonight and runs Thurs-Sat at 7:30 pm and Sun at 2 pm. Top ticket price is $17. Call (208) 667-1323.

The Elephant Man of Victorian London was Joseph Merrick (though his caretaker, Dr. Treves, called him "John.") He suffered from a combination of neurofibromatosis and Proteus Syndrome, which caused bone deformities, an unusually large skull, and warty growths sporadically over the body. 

The movie of 30 years ago tries to show you that, literally. During the play, you're left to imagine those deformities for yourself. 
Merrick used to end his letters with a poem about how he wished he'd been better made, but that a man's mind and soul are better measures of his value than his physical appearance. 

The play about him by Bernard Pomerance, which won the Tony for Best Play in 1979, opens at Lake City Playhouse tonight. (Pomerance, now 70, lives in New Mexico.)

Directed by Marina Kalani. Lake City artistic director George Green plays Dr. Frederick Treves, the Victorian-era London physician who examines and cares for Merrick (Christopher Lamb). Bill Caisely plays the head of the hospital, Sean Cahill plays the freak-show manager who exploits Merrick, and Anne Lillian Mitchell plays the famous actress who becomes Merrick's first female friend. Seven other actors complete the cast of 12.

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Posted on Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 10:30 AM

It's raining. So stay inside: Sit and watch a play this weekend.

West Side Story is virtually sold out at the Civic on Friday-Saturday. Does any other American musical offer a five-song sequence as good as "Maria," "Tonight," "America," "Cool" and "One Hand, One Heart"? See a preview here. See more photos here.

A vaudeville comedian performs amazing feats of memory! A distinguished Scottish lord turns out to be a Nazi sympathizer! A man is handcuffed to a woman who can't stand him! The 39 Steps at Interplayers, filled with zany comedy, is down to its final three performances: Fri 7:30 pm, Sat 2 pm and 7:30 pm. Call 455-PLAY. See photos and a preview here. See our review here.

Plays can do things that movies can't. So you figure you saw The Elephant Man movie (by David Lynch, and with John Hurt, Anthony Hopkins, John Gielgud and Anne Bancroft) and so there's no reason to see the play? 

But the movie was based on John Merrick's doctor's memoirs, not on the 1977 play by Bernard Pomerance. And in the play, the deformed man appears without any makeup. The result? His humanity is always before us. He doesn't look like a freak or an animal. What he looks like is a man. The Elephant Man, starring George Green and Christopher Lamb, opens this weekend at Lake City Playhouse in CdA — Fri-Sat at 7:30 pm, Sun 2 pm.

Three widows compete over who's grieving her husband most — at least, that is, until an available man arrives on the scene — in The Cemetery Club at the Civic's Studio Theatre. Fri-Sat only at 7:30 pm; closes Nov. 14. Call 325-2507. See our preview here.

Comedy made fresh and on the spot! Improv at the Blue Door Theater, Fri 8 pm, Sat 9 pm. (747-7045)

Elizabethan clothes and an emo sensibility — that's the line on Romeo and Juliet at Gonzaga. (Coupla tall guys from the basketball team, too.) Fri-Sat at 7:30 pm, Sun at 2 pm, Magnuson Theater, east end of College Hall, Gonzaga, 502 E. Boone Ave. (313-6553) See our review here.

Murder mystery in a Victorian mansion! For just $37, you get gore with your dinner in "Murder at the Speakeasy" at the Lion's Share, 1627 N. Atlantic St. Fri-Sun at 6 pm. (327-1113)

Now that The Laramie Project can be seen in the absence of the Westboro Wackjob Bigot Church members, you can revisit a town's reaction to the torture-murder of Matthew Shepard at NIC's Boswell Hall in CdA on Fri-Sat at 7:30 pm. Free. Call (208) 769-3220.

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Posted on Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 8:54 AM

For your Friday morning viewing pleasure, I present a video that shows the dedication and heart (if not talent) it takes to win* a dancing competition at a nerd convention. Namely, that you thrash around onstage so hard you break your leg. From Blizzcon 2010 in Anaheim, Calif., it’s “Dancing with the bizarre.”

Side note: This is what Jay Mohr’s doing now? 

* Sadly, he did not win. Though I hope they at least gave him a T-shirt or something.

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Posted on Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 8:50 AM

Cats for sale! The Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service is offering cats for only $15 through Saturday (down from the usual $60 fee) after taking in an unexpected number of them this week. (SR)

Third time’s a charm Jurors in Coeur d’Alene convicted Frank and William Tankovich of racially harassing a man last August. It was the brothers’ third trial in eight months. (SR)

Bodies left for days Police in Post Falls are investigating an apparent murder-suicide inside a rental home, where they say the bodies have been decomposing for the last eight to ten days. (KREM)

Haunted city KXLY rolls out its seasonal superstition with a story on Spokane’s spookiest places, including the Davenport and the thousand steps.

Suspicious devices on planes Planes in Newark, Philadelphia and the U.K. are being examined after a toner cartridge with wires and powder was found in a cargo plane in the U.K. In New York, police responded to reports of a possible explosive in a UPS truck at the Queensboro bridge. (Seattle Times)

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Posted By on Thu, Oct 28, 2010 at 4:31 PM

Though Sunday will be the last night of business for the Seaside, it seems that Spokane isn’t losing anything after all. Bill Powers, longtime booker for the Blvd and owner of the Seaside, will become the general manager just a few blocks away at Aclub. That space, owned by the operator of Irv’s and Andy’s, has hosted a few shows over the last ten months since it opened — and good ones at that. But now Powers is on the payroll, and he’ll be moving over all of the shows that he had scheduled at the Seaside to Aclub and will book more regular shows there. Phew.

It’s always a bummer to see a venue go — but I think the Aclub is a really cool space.

Powers says he doesn’t have a ton of huge shows planned for Aclub right now (yes, it’s Aclub — not A-Club or THE A Club), but he’s personally excited about the Velella Velella show (with Champion Birdwatchers and Dirty Mittens, on Thurs, Nov. 11) and the Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers show (with Silver Treason, on Sun, Nov. 14). You can check out the full schedule of Aclub shows at

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Posted on Thu, Oct 28, 2010 at 2:02 PM

Maybe it’s the rainy gloom of late, but it strikes me how we denizens of the Lilac City (Spokane, or Spocompton, or Spokanistan) tend to view our fair realm like a bunch of Eeyores.

The streets are pitiful! Fixing the streets is inconveniencing me! The city is corrupt! The police are out to kill us!

It’s refreshing, then, to hear one of the gimlet-eyed icons of American journalism offer her take on Spokane. Susan Stamberg, one of the so-called Founding Mothers of National Public Radio, was in town Wednesday to deliver the keynote at the YWCA’s Women of Achievement luncheon yesterday but, being an NPR icon and all, stopped by KBPX to help the station’s fund-raising pledge drive.

She offered plenty of bon mots during her half hour or so on air, including this:

“I have to say something else — (laughs) as if you could keep me quiet — but it’s about Spokane. I was here 10 years ago. Stayed downtown. Was up very early and went out for a walk. Same thing this morning, just walking around and seeing what has happened to this town in the last 10 years ... it is extraordinary. The boom, or boomlet, that obviously Spokane has been on . .. there are new buildings, new enterprises. There is that whole shopping mall place. ... This town appears to be in very good shape. There’s money out there. I can see it on your streets.”

You can hear this from Stamberg herself by clicking the player at the top of this post (on the permalink page).

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American Inheritance: Unpacking World War II @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through May 23
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