Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Fools toast themselves

Theater company throws community party

Express Staff Writer

A scene from "Frankie & Johnnie."

"It's going to be a big old party at the Liberty," Denise Simone said about Company of Fool's 10th anniversary bash. But beware of tricks. The event is April Fool's Day.

The free soiree is 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, April 1, at the Liberty in Hailey. There will be food from Hailey's restaurants and fun prizes. Mayor Susan McBryant is making a proclamation naming the day Company of Fools Day. At 6 p.m. the Company is announcing its 2005 season "in a foolishly creative way," Simone said.

The Hailey-based theater company was informally formed in Richmond, Va., in 1992 and began performing soon after. In 1995, their first project, "Something Unspoken: Two Evenings of Tennessee Williams One-Acts" was presented at the Hanover Tavern in Hanover, Va. Encouraged by friend Bruce Willis, the company's co-artistic directors, Rusty Wilson and Denise Simone, moved to the Wood River Valley in 1996. Joel Vilinsky, Andrew Alburger, John Glenn and R.L. Rowsey soon followed. Meanwhile, set director Dennis Rexroad is moving permanently to the valley this year.

"We've increased the population of the Wood River Valley," Simone laughed.

Company of Fools has produced nearly 50 plays, including "True West" and "Fool for Love," both starring Willis, "James Joyce's The Dead," "Side Man," "Always...Patsy Cline," "Shirley Valentine," "The Seagull" and "Dinner with Friends."

Along the way, the Company also became the first theater in Idaho to receive Constituent Theatre status from Theatre Communications Group.

The Company created an in-school program called Stages of Wonder, facilitates The Community School's Elementary theatre program, offers classes for adults, and has expanded into the Boise community. Oh, and Simone is a board member of the Idaho Commission on the Arts.

It's enough to make one raise an eyebrow.

No, fooling.

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