Theater group out of excuses

Anybody with half a heart would want to give Theatre in the Valley a break. For years, the folks there had performed full seasons of shows in Henderson's Laura J. Peterson Recreation Center. They got the boot last year and haven't been able to find a space since June.

Undaunted, and underfinanced, they put together script versions of Mark Twain's "The Stolen White Elephant" and O. Henry's "The Ransom of Red Chief" last weekend under the banner title "Tales from Americana."

But the problem with giving them a break is that they keep failing to take care of their most basic duty: good theater. They make the sort of mistakes they should have grown past long ago.

At Sunday's matinee a child actor, who shall go nameless, shouted to his friends from the stage immediately following the curtain call. Did it not occur to director Rick Bindhamer to inform the child that he mustn't say hello from the stage?

That would be forgivable, I suppose, if the actors -- some of whom (particularly the very natural Jose Luis DeLeon) show promise -- hadn't been given free reign to mug.

The stories are attractive, and a real director, with knowledge of pacing, coaching and nuance, easily could have brought the work of these master authors to life. But Theatre in the Valley, despite all the talent available in Vegas, insists on having the wrong people at the helm. I'm hoping that those involved might use this hiatus to work alongside some other local artists and bone up on the basics of their craft.

Bindhamer bills himself as a director, actor, playwright, composer, lyricist, lighting designer and producer. One wishes he would limit his ambitions so that he might learn to do at least one of those things well.

Anthony Del Valle can be reached at You can write him c/o Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125.