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For the week of January 24 through 30, 2001

Men’s bonding weekend goes awry

Express Staff Writer

If you're not one of these guys chances are you used to date him. What guys?

The Wild Guys, natch, who seem to be lost in the Sawtooth National Forest but are coming to the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum, Jan. 25-28.

Produced by the Interplanetary Theatre Group in association with Bigwood Bread, and directed by Pamela Sue Martin, The Wild Guys is about "four guys in search of their souls on a hilarious men’s insensitivity retreat," said Interplanetary artistic director Jon Kane. It satirizes men’s self-help encounters, made famous by drum-beating poet Robert Bly during the last decade of the last century, and the new-age, touchy-feely movement that supported it.

Canadian playwrights Andrew Wreggitt and his wife, Rebecca Shaw, won Canada’s Solange Karsh Award for best play in the 1992 National [Canadian] Playwriting Competition and has been widely produced ever since.

"It was originally written as a one act," said Wreggitt by phone from Manitoba. "It premiered at the Arts Club Theatre, Vancouver, for a three-week run. It was such a hit it ran for five months. They brought it back the following summer for another three-month run."

The characters include a good ole’ boy grocer, Stewart, played by Larry Kelly, who is under the impression he’s going on a beer-drinkin’ and lie-swappin’ guys weekend.

His boss, Andy, organizer of the gathering and men’s movement afficionado, is played by Michael Lanzarone, and the corporate lawyer, Randall, who only dates 20-year-olds, is played by Laird Erman

Rounding out the mismatched group is Robin, a blissed-out, new-age, cyrstal gazer played by Joe Marshall.

Other than their gender, the characters have virtually nothing in common.

"We based it on people we know--composites," said Wreggitt. "It was clear who would have fun with whom. Stewart [the grocer] is the local guy in the little town who’s supposed to know what he’s doing. People think you can hunt moose and build a cabin just because you live up north in the bush, but that’s just where you live."

There are lots of different ways to do the show, Wreggitt said, with "huge elaborate sets and gigantic art direction. It’s also been done with a cardboard rock and fake tree and it works just as well either way, because it’s all about the characters’ interaction. It’s not reliant on special effects."

Interplanetary was permitted, by the playwrights, to change the place names in the play to correspond to more familiar ones in the Wood River Valley.

"We recommend the locale references are changed," said Wreggitt. "It makes it more immediate for the audience. There’s always someplace that someone doesn’t like, nearby."

Actress Pamela Sue Martin saw the play seven years ago, and has kept it in mind to do in the Wood River Valley.

Now, with this production, Martin said, she wants to focus more on directing than acting.

"It’s a helluva lot of fun. It’s everything I like in theatre and it works really well for the valley."

They will be putting up the show in only three and half weeks. "It’s been really, really positive. There is wisdom in the play. Really good humor is like that. It comes from a place of truth."

The production this weekend will employ several gimmicks to synergize the evening and the play.

For starters, the theater will be open at 6:30 p.m. until midnight so people may linger over their refreshments.

"I want it to be like the old days when theater at Whiskey’s [Jacques] was out of control," Kane said

The play, he said, will be a "treat for the locals." There will be champagne, wine, beer and sodas for sale, as well as foccacia, quiche, and sandwiches from sponsor Bigwood Bread.

They intend to "turn it into a club, where the show is part of the evening," Kane said.

The lobby will have a Polynesian-type setting which connects to a bit in the play.

Apparently, in order to impress his boss, Andy, the good-ole boy grocer, Stewart, has over-ordered cases of canned pineapples and planned, in some desperation, to have a Hawaiian day at the grocery store.

Opening night, Thursday, will be Ladies Night. All women will have a bottomless glass of champagne. In other words buy one, drink all night.

Friday night is billed as Wild Guy Night. Wear a pair of construction boots or cowboy boots and receive a free beer.

On Sunday, which happens to be the guy-guy day of the year–Superbowl Sunday--- Kane plans to set up a football toss. Throw the ball through a tire and win a free drink. And anyone in any kind of helmet pays a discounted ticket price of only $10.

The Wild Guys will be playing Thursday through Saturday, at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 5 p.m., at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum. Tickets may be purchased at the theater for any show, or at either Bigwood Bread locations.


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