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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Arts and Entertainment

On being Shirley

Express Staff Writer

"We are all Shirley," Denise Simone said. "An older man in Boise came up to me after a performance and shook my hand, ‘I am Shirley,’ he said." People feel a kinship with the character of a women who breaks loose from her stale existence and discovers the life yet unlived.

Company of Fools produced "Shirley Valentine" in October 2003 with Simone in the lead. It is being revived next week, again directed by John Glenn, at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey. The curtain goes up Wednesday, March 17, through Saturday, March 20, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 21, at 3 p.m.

The play opened on Broadway in 1989 and won that year’s Tony Award for Best Play. Pauline Collins won the Tony Award for Best Actress. Playwright Willy Russell, a man clearly at home in a women’s mind, received the Olivier Award as well as Drama Desk, Tony and Academy Award nominations.

Simone reprises the role of Shirley Bradshaw née Valentine, a rather ordinary 42-year-old wife and mother who is less than pleased with her life. Her marriage, she says, is like the Middle East, "There’s no solution."

Her ruminations on her life are carried in the intimacy of her kitchen, as she prepares chips and egg for her husband’s dinner. She discusses such subjects as her husband, her children, her past and an appealing proposal she received from a girlfriend to go with her on holiday to Greece in search of romance and adventure.

Simone, the associate artistic director and a founding member of Company of Fools, is also a director, teacher, and playwright. As well, she’s a member of the Idaho Commission on the Arts.

Glenn’s directing credits for the COF include "Always … Patsy Cline," "The Laramie Project," "Dinner With Friends," "The Tempest," "A Christmas Carol," "The Pied Piper," "Side Man" and "The Philadelphia Story."

"Because we did it in Boise and Sandpoint, after Hailey last fall, it has grown, not changed but is richer in a way," Glenn said.

Simone agreed. "The longer you do something it sinks in and the more you know what you’re doing."

"It was very intimate in the Fulton Street Theater in Boise," she said. "It was like they were in my kitchen. To embrace the intimacy you discover more about the show. The biggest thing that floored me was the audience talking back or repeating lines. Patrons feel totally connected and it resonates. We all want to jump off the roof. She has been a great teacher."

They did one show in Sandpoint at an old theatre that, conversely, held the audience at a large remove.

"I feel like I could set up kitchen anywhere," Simone said. "But it’s been three months. I have to put her back into my body."

Glenn also has a sense of Shirley that he found hard to let go of, previously.

"I’m a very possessive director, but this was different. I felt like I was abandoning her (once the show was in production) but I wasn’t. She just had a new partner, the audience."

Tickets are available by calling the COF box office at 578-9122, or through www.ticketweb.com.


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.