The Theatre! The Theatre! Even the smells behind the scenes, the props and all the things that make it happen from backstage? It all has a magic. Robert Parish and I were lucky to spend some quality time at PCS with a chance to sit ON set with the fabulous Andrew Sellon who brings Vanya to life in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.
A Lot More Than Funny
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike has been pure magic in the way it hit a nerve across the country. Here, the essentials from Portland Center Stage.
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is the 2013 Tony Award-winning play that puts Chekhov and pop culture into a blender, with the comic genius that only renowned playwright Christopher Durang can deliver. “For humor to be truly satisfying it must be grounded in reality. The humor in this play comes out of that tension of reality and ridiculousness,” said Portland Center Stage Associate Artistic Director Rose Riordan, who will direct the action. Bringing the ridiculous family drama to life are two artists familiar to PCS audiences – local favorite Sharonlee McLean as Sonia and Carol Halstead (last at PCS in The Beard of Avon) as her sister Masha – along with four exciting debuts: Andrew Sellon as Vanya, Nick Ballard as Spike, Olivia Negron as Cassandra and Eden Malyn as Nina.
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike runs through February 8, 2015 on the U.S. Bank Main Stage at PCS’s Gerding Theater at the Armory. Regular tickets start at $36. Rush tickets are $20. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays (excluding February 3 and 8); 2 p.m. matinees on select Saturdays and Sundays; and matinees at noon on select Thursdays. Tickets can be purchased at pcs.org or 503.445.3700. A complete schedule can be found online at http://www.pcs.org/vanya/.
We had the chance to talk with Andrew Sellon about Chekov, the jumping off point for Christopher Durang’s play. What made this play into a Tony-award winner and such an audience favorite? Simply one of the hottest plays on American stages this season. (Think “zeitgeist”). Who can’t relate to being caught in their lives and caught in a stagnation.
Andrew told me that Durang has talked about the “comedy/pain” nexus. That is perhaps why this IS a comedy. But such a powerful one. It’s about seeing both sides of the coin. And it’s observing the growth of a powerful playwright like Durang taking on a more generous spirit as he writes and shapes his characters.
Andrew asks us to consider what you do “when you have an old world sensibility and have new worlds invading it. How does it alter perceptions of the way things always have been and where they might go? The unknown is terrifying”, says Andrew. So. yes. It’s a comedy, but there is a terrific amount of food for thought and a lot of compassion.
Finally, Andrew confesses that THIS is the joy of live theatre. To watch audience reaction and involvement. It has become one of his favorite plays. Enjoy the video and a full interview for more insight.
Here’s our entire conversation.