Whew! Dickinson comedy features 3 directors, six actors and 52 roles
Six actors play 52 characters in vignettes that span three acts, each helmed by a different director, all performed around an oak Renaissance-style table in A.R. Gurney’s “The Dining Room,” which plays May 24 through June 16 at Bay Area Harbour Playhouse in Dickinson.
“It is a big show to put on,” said Annette Forsythe, who serves as the coordinating director for the production.
“My main job is to keep everyone on schedule,” including the three directors, none of whom has directed before at BAHP, which is at 3803 Texas 3.
They include Charlotte Jackson of Santa Fe, who has directed shows for almost 40 years at other venues; Brandi Kiekel of League City, who teaches middle school theater in Galveston; and Stacey Pope, who recently returned to theater after a 14-year break to appear in “Doublewide, Texas” at BAHP.
The cast features Troy Nordyke and Ginny Rauth, along with BAHP newcomers Nori Head, Mary Ann Janecka, Riley Sims and Thomas Weber. Brandon Allen is Weber’s understudy.
Ultimate challenge for an actor
“The Dining Room” is a stunning showcase for actors, as each one portrays eight to 10 parts for characters that range in age from children to the elderly.
The scenes take place in various homes of privileged, white, middle-class Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) families who are comically beset by First World problems.
The play debuted off-Broadway in 1981.
BAHP’s founder and artistic director Bennie Nipper picked the play for her traveling theater troupe, to perform at Friendswood High School in 1986.
When Nipper’s troupe found a home in Dickinson, she chose “The Dining Room” to open playhouse’s first season.
In 2002, Nipper produced the show as BAHP’s 10th anniversary revival show.
Forsythe, who was shy as a teenager, didn’t become involved in theater until five years ago, when she was cast as a gypsy in “Carnival” at BAHP.
When her character had to wear a garment that prevented her from moving her arms, the gypsy asked, “But what if I get an itch?”
“That was my one line,” said Forsythe. “The audience laughed and I loved it.”
Roles followed as Mrs. Fezziwig in “A Christmas Carol,” a queen in “The Nutcracker” and, with just two weeks’ notice, Helga, a nosy German maid, in “Night Watch.”
For the past two years, Forsythe has served as BAHP’s volunteer coordinator.
She is a production board member who assistant-directed “The 39 Steps” before debuting as a director with “Doublewide, Texas” last September on the playhouse’s upstairs Top Deck stage.
Offstage, the native of Grapevine works in health claims at American National Insurance Company in South Shore Harbour.
She and her husband, Gary, a large construction plumber, live in Dickinson’s Bay Colony neighborhood.
Their sons are Christopher Forsythe, a police officer in La Porte, and Jason Byrd, a tech sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, who deployed April 1 from Germany to Afghanistan.
Forsythe and her husband have five grandchildren.
She said the dining table at center stage of the BAHP production is a family heirloom that’s on loan from Jackie Denzler, whose mother, Teresa McLemore, is the stage manager and prop mistress.
Performances of “The Dining Room” are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays through June 16. Tickets costs $17 for general admission; $12 for adults over age 55, students and members of the military; and $6 for children under age 13, and are available at Ticketleap.
For further details, call 281-337-7460 or see the theater’s Facebook page.
Don Maines is a freelance writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org