Round and round and round we go, where the shows stop … well, usually after the second act, a curtain call and a really kickin’ cast party (BYOB).
Three productions, three nights of drunken … uh, pleasant get-togethers. But before playtime come the plays, and this one is sobering:
"Is the character of Anne Frank the same? Yes. Is she more thoroughly realized? Yes," says Robert Brewer, director of a revision of "The Diary of Anne Frank," staged by Nevada Conservatory Theatre at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. "There is a darkness that permeates the second play that wasn’t in the first play."
Rewritten by Wendy Kesselman from the 1955 script, this retooled take, based on the journals of the heroic girl who hid with her family from the Nazis in Amsterdam, stems from additional, previously undisclosed diary entries.
"Otto Frank (the patriarch and only family survivor of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, who died in 1980 at age 91) suppressed certain chapters, because he felt she was talking about her sexuality, intimate things he felt should not be in the book, and when he passed away, he turned these over," Brewer says of the reflections of Anne, who died of typhus in the camp. The new "Diary" debuted on Broadway in 1997.
"I don’t want to make it sound salacious, because it’s not, but the world has changed a lot. While the first play was about forgiveness, the second is about anger. It feels more authentic. There was a feeling in the industry that in the first version, she was more saint than sinner. In this, she can not only bake the bread, but she can burn it as well. She’s a human being, and I hope people will take a fresh look at it."
The tone turns considerably lighter at Las Vegas Little Theatre’s "The House of Blue Leaves," one of playwright John Guare’s earliest works. How to describe it? Think nuns, a Vietnam-bound soldier, a political bombing, a zookeeper with dreams of penning songs in Hollywood, and his wife — unsubtly named Bananas — a schizophrenic heading for the institution with the pastel foliage of the title. All scurrying around Queens, N.Y., as Pope Paul VI visits on Oct. 4, 1965. … Yes, it’s a black comedy.
"The Catholic background always pops up in his plays," says director Walter Niejadlik of Guare. "But the things the characters are going through are still relevant today, people trying to make it big, looking for a better life."
Fame, betrayal, cruelty and nobodies desperate to become somebodies all figure into "Blue Leaves," a comic comment about society’s backward priorities that isn’t always blatantly comedic.
"There are definitely moments that can go either way," Niejadlik says. "We’ve made those choices of where we want to hit the audience in the gut versus keeping them lighter, so the end gets the payoff we want from it."
Society’s conundrums narrow down to family concerns in Beth Henley’s "Crimes of the Heart," staged by the homeless Theatre in the Valley troupe, which will touch down on three stages — MacDonald Ranch, Sun City Anthem and the Henderson Convention Center — for four shows.
"It’s not like doing a production at Las Vegas Little Theatre, where you’re working with the set for three-and-a-half weeks," says "Crimes" director Jim Williams about relocating sets to three venues, but adds that the play (a Pulitzer Prize winner) is worth the effort. "It’s got all the emotions," he says.
"Crimes" tells the tale of the Magrath sisters of Mississippi — one unmarried, one fresh from a failed singing career, one out on bail after shooting her husband in the stomach — sharing their passions and problems while awaiting news of their dying grandfather in a play that swings between comedy and drama.
"One minute you’ll be laughing, the next you might be reflecting and feel something in your heart, a little cheer, a little sadness," Williams says. "It’s three-dimensional, it tells a real human story."
After the shows, remember the cast soirees — assuming you wrangle a guest invitation — but for purposes of propriety, let’s make it BYODP: Bring your own Dr. Pepper.
Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at sbornfeld@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0256.Preview
“The Diary of Anne Frank”
8 p.m. today, Saturday and Thursday and 2 p.m. Sunday (through Feb. 22)
Judy Bayley Theatre, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 4505 S. Maryland Parkway
“The House of Blue Leaves”
8 p.m. today, Saturday and Thursday; 2 p.m. Sunday (through March 1)
Las Vegas Little Theatre, 3920 Schiff Drive
“Crimes of the Heart”
7 p.m. today; 4 p.m. Sunday; 2 and 7 p.m. Feb. 21
Sun City Anthem’s Freedom Hall Theatre, 2460 Hampton Road (today); Desert Willow Clubhouse at Sun City MacDonald Ranch, 2020 Horizon Ridge Parkway (Sunday); Henderson Convention Center, 200 S. Water St. (Feb. 21)
$10 (today); $8-$10 (Sunday); $10 (Feb. 21) (558-7275)