Ladies’ night: ‘The Women’ comes to Issaquah High School

March 16, 2010

By Chantelle Lusebrink

By Greg Farrar Sylvia, played by Amanda Thornton, leaps upon Miriam, played by Becca Allen, as other cast members look on during the fistfight scene in a Reno hotel room, from the Issaquah High School drama production of ‘The Women.’

Sylvia, played by Amanda Thornton, leaps upon Miriam, played by Becca Allen, as other cast members look on during the fistfight scene in a Reno hotel room, from the Issaquah High School drama production of ‘The Women.’ By Greg Farrar

Gather your favorite women, grab some dinner and maybe a few mocktails — or cocktails — and head to see Issaquah High School’s production of “The Women,” premiering at 7 p.m. March 18.

“We think it’s a really great show, with a lot of comedic parts,” said sophomore Audrey De Luca, who plays divorcée Countess De Lave. “It should be something everyone can enjoy.”

The production will be at Skyline High School, since Issaquah High’s theater is under construction.

The classic production is Clare Boothe Luce’s famed 1936 play, dramatizing the complex lives and interpersonal relationships among a group of wealthy Manhattan women.

The perceived perfection of their worlds comes crumbling down as scandal, lusty affairs and divorce envelop their lives, forcing them to turn to each other — and on one another.

“Everyone has experienced something like this, gossip and cattiness,” said Emily Berensohn, a sophomore who plays adulteress Crystal Allen. “You turn to your friends to get through it, but not everyone has your best interests in mind.”

Complete with women who are innocent victims, those who remain steadfast friends, those who love salacious gossip, women with twinges of jealousy and women who enjoy coveting something other than their own, the show boasts a full range of female caricatures and the feelings in each.

Luce “has a brilliant understanding of the complex nature of women and their friends,” said producer and teacher Holly Whiting. She “beautifully presents this with witty, biting dialog that at times is so carefully nuanced that audience members must be at attention at all times, so they don’t miss any verbal bombs.”

The truisms in this classic play have become staple principals off of which several successful films and television series have built themselves upon.

Think a little “Sex and the City” meets “Desperate Housewives” meets “First Wives Club,” the girls said.

“While this takes place in a period where society treated women much differently, the 1930s, especially when it comes to divorce, that part may be different today,” said senior Sara Brumley, who plays the heroine Mary Haines. “The other components, friendship, jealousy and pride, are still relevant.”

“It’s a story that will always be relevant,” said sophomore Becca Allen, who plays Miriam Aarons.

The students in the 26-member, all-female ensemble “The Women” say they’ve been able to learn more about one another and it has brought a closeness to the production.

“At first, I was like, ‘Oh my god, a cast of all girls.’ But I really like the characters and we’ve bonded as a cast,” De Luca said.

“This play, unlike a lot of the musicals, has been really chill,” said senior Amanda Thornton, who plays gossip Sylvia Fowler. “Whenever there are boys, there’s always someone who decides to like one of them and then another girl likes them and, well, there’s more drama.”

Even Whiting has noted the difference.

“I have 26 women in this cast and at times, the din offstage can rival a chicken coop full of frenetic poultry,” she said. “Although the characters in ‘The Women’ are a bunch of catty creatures, my cast members are not. Working with an all-female cast is absolutely delightful.”

Though it’s a show with women, it’s all about men, the girls said. So, it’s not just something for women to see.

“We wanted to make (the two cat fights) look as real as possible and I think we’ve succeeded,” Brumley said.

The girls hired the Seattle Shakespeare Co. to teach them how to stage fight.

The show is for a more mature audience.

The cast said they’d love to see mother-daughter duos, date-night couples and groups of best friends attend the show.

If you go

‘The Women’

-Presented by Issaquah High School Theatre Club

-7 p.m. March 18, 19 and 20

-Skyline High School, 1122 228th Ave. S.E.

-$8 with student ID, $10 others

Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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