Laughing Stock Theater, just about a month after closing “Comedy of Errors” for the 2019 Shakespeare in the Park series, is continuing its practice of living up to its namesake, prepping a riotous musical comedy revue for late September.
The Ketchum theater company will present five performances of the award-winning play “A…My Name Will Always Be Alice” at Whiskey Jacques’ from Sept. 25-29.
“A…My Name Will Always Be Alice” is the third in a series of cabaret-style iterations, the first being 1983’s “A…My Name Is Alice,” which preceded 1992’s “A…My Name Is Still Alice.”
Come 1995, playwrights Joan Micklin Silver and Julianne Boyd had reconfigured their previous pieces, amalgamating their favorite segments from each to form the third and final iteration, which is sometimes referred to as “Alice Revisited” or “All Girl Band,” the latter being the title of the opening and closing songs of the musical revue.
In traditional revue fashion, “All Girl Band” consists of a series of mostly unrelated individual songs, sketches and monologues, which combine together to form a thematically coherent production.
Patsy Wygle, artistic director of Laughing Stock Theater company and director of “All Girl Band,” had the good fortune to attend New York performances of both previous versions upon their initial releases, but she is new to this show.
“I don’t remember every little detail of them, but I do remember enjoying them a great deal. This show takes the best parts from both of them and puts them together. It’s great fun,” she said.
With a concentrated ensemble of seven actresses, “All Girl Band” provides the ideal opportunity for some local female talent to demonstrate their undeniable qualities.
In addition to Wygle, the cast features Karen Nelson, Megan Mahoney, Rachel Aanestad, Patty Parsons—who is also serving as musical director—Annabelle Lewis and Adele Stireman.
The latter two are actually too young to patronize Whiskey Jacques’ past a certain point in the evening, but Wygle says they help energize the cast with a youthful spirit.
“The play’s written for women with a little more experience in life, but we wanted to bring in that youthful element, and I think we found some great people to do it,” Wygle said.
From beginning to end, the revue covers, in Wygle’s words, “the full spectrum of a woman’s life.” Following the two introductory songs—“All Girl Band” and “A…My Name Is Alice”—the real arc of the narrative begins with “At My Age,” about a 15-year-old going on her first date. The songs, sketches and monologues advance through life, eventually concluding with the retrospective “Lifelines,” ahead of the “All Girl Band” reprise to finally close the show.
More important than their ages, each member of the cast sports powerful vocals and strong acting capabilities, which is part of why Laughing Stock selected this particular production in the first place.
“There are so many really good female singers in town and we don’t really do that many musicals,” Wygle said. “Laughing Stock used to primarily do musicals, but we’ve gotten away from that. They’re expensive and logistically complicated, especially without a dependable venue.”
She was referencing the former NexStage Theater, where Laughing Stock held all its previous productions before the building was sold and the site became the new Argyros Performing Arts Center.
“With ‘All Girl Band,’ we’ve got a funny, moving, entertaining play that showcases female talent on an intimate scale,” she said.
Wygle stressed how without breaking the bank, “All Girl Band” offers the ideal balance between financial attainability and a quality performance.
Under the musical direction of Parsons, the cast will perform more than a dozen musical numbers with accompaniment by keyboardist Paul Gregory.
“I’d say it’s about 75 percent funny, but 25 percent is really beautiful and touching. There are a couple of monologues in here that are very intimate. My favorite kind of shows make you laugh and cry. It’s very funny, but you’re also moved in some meaningful way.
“Overall, I think it strikes a wonderful balance. It will be a great fit at Whiskey’s.”
The five nightly performances—from Wednesday, Sept. 25, through Sunday, Sept. 29—will each begin at 6 p.m., allowing for audience members to enjoy dinner and cocktails while they take in the show.
Tickets for “All Girl Band (A…My Name Will Always Be Alice)” are $25 and can be purchased at the door on the night of the performance or online at laughingstocktheater.com.