An Ideal Community Theater

Opening Scene from the 2012 production of An Ideal Husband by Playcrafters of Skippack

Opening Scene from the 2012 production of An Ideal Husband by Playcrafters of Skippack, from left to right: Ken Uller, Mare Mikalic, Mark Ayers, Christine Martuscello, Anthony Marsala, Liz McDonald.

If one night among all others proves living in Skippack is as close as we come in this life to living in paradise, it is theater night. My wife Debby and I have been subscribers to Playcrafters of Skippack, our local community theater, for three years. Our tickets are always for a Saturday evening performance. We get a chance to rest during the day and come evening, dressed in fine but casual clothes, we take our long-anticipated stroll through Skippack Village to the Barn theater.

Find Your Seat and Enter a New World

We ascend a narrow staircase, find our seats, the lights go down and we are transported to a new world. Why is this moment of theater becoming more special to me as the years go by?

The home of Playcrafters of Skippack, the Barn Theater,  located in the heart of Skippack Village, 100 feet West of Route 73 on Store Road.

The home of Playcrafters of Skippack, the Barn Theater, located in the heart of Skippack Village, 100 feet West of Route 73 on Store Road.

As a blogger at night and web content manager for a large company 9-to-5, I spend long hours in front of electronic screens: The computer both connects me to people and distances me from these same people. Flesh and blood actors with their presence and immediacy, their ability to bring words to life, and their ability to confront emotion are a refreshing jolt of energy to a soul benumbed by digital waves.

Playcrafters of Skippack gains even greater power through its willingness to stage less-well-known and more thought-provoking productions when compared to many other community theaters. Indeed, Playcrafters seems to embody many characteristics that go to the core of what makes Skippack special; small town intimacy and warmth blended with a touch of big city sophistication.

A Stellar Season Ahead for Skippack

If the opening production of the 2012 season, An Ideal Husband by Victorian playwright Oscar Wilde, is any indication, this is going to be a stellar theater season in Skippack. An Ideal Husband has finished it’s run and, if you missed it dear reader, you missed an amazing night of theater. Fortunately, there are six more productions remaining in the Playcrafters of Skippack season.

Mark Ayers plays Lord Robert Chiltern in An Ideal Husband

Mark Ayers as himself. He played Lord Robert Chiltern in Playcrafters of Skippack production of An Ideal Husband. I have also seen Mark at Playcrafters in Cabaret and Doubt. In each role he was completely different and completely believable.

As lovers of Skippack, we support Playcrafters as a community. However, as members of an audience we experience each play as an individual. It is the province of the live actor to touch our inner consciousness in a unique way. We each have freedom to see and interpret the play in our own way; freedom of thought is, of course, the greatest freedom of all.

The Biggest Comedy of the Season

Wilde wrote An Ideal Husband, a comedy of manners with both glittering wit and a serious moral center, in 1895, the twilight years of the late Victorian era. Director Margo Weishar O’Moore made a brave decision to set the play into a time closer to our own, around the middle of the 20th century. In my opinion, this bold move made the dramatic conflict in the play more relevant.

An Ideal Husband opens during a dinner party at the home of Sir Robert and Lady Gertrude Chiltern (played by Mark Ayers and  Mare Mikalic). Robert Chiltern is a prestigious member of the House of Commons. His wife, Gertrude Chiltern, is a woman with strong moral convictions. She believes she has an “ideal husband”—that is, a man who is unblemished in both private and public life and whom she can worship.

During the party, an acquaintance of Gertrude Chiltern’s named Mrs. Cheveley (played by Christine Martuscello) attempts to blackmail Robert Chiltern.

Anthony Marsala and Christine Martuscello in Playcrafters of Skippack 2012 production of An Ideal Husband

Lord Goring (played by Anthony Marsala), a friend to Lord Robert Chiltern, tests his wit against the scheming Mrs. Cheveley (played by Christine Martuscello) in Playcrafters of Skippack 2012 production of An Ideal Husband.

Many years earlier, Robert Chiltern had sold a Cabinet secret. Truth be told, he made his fortune and built his political career with dirty money from this deal. Mrs. Cheveley has a letter which proves his guilt and threatens to destroy both his marriage and career, unless he is willing to give his support to a highly-questionable foreign investment scheme she favors in an upcoming vote in the House of Commons.

I cannot help but think that it was a telling choice to stage this comedy in an election year in which the cost for running for president is expected to be hundreds of millions or even a billion dollars or more. Whatever side of the aisle you sit on, dear reader, do not be a Gertrude Chiltern; do not idolize the candidate of your choice as an “ideal president” in the mold of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. A political candidate does not raise this kind of money using the qualities of a boy scout. Indeed, let us see our trip to the voting booth this November as the biggest comedy of the season.

The Only Answer Is to Laugh

Playwright Oscar Wilde uses his urbane wit, keen sense of pleasure in pointing out social hypocrisy, and love for the clever flow of words to resolve the questions he raises in An Ideal Husband. Here are a few of many great lines from the play:

  • “The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast.”
  • “Life is never fair…And perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.”
  • “No man is rich enough to buy back his past.”

Up next at Playcrafters: The Children’s Hour a hard-hitting drama by playwright Lillian Hellman which opens May 31. The Skippack Blogger is looking forward to it. I love having my guts ripped out at the Barn Theater.

Links

Playcrafters of Skippack Website

Playcrafters of Skippack Facebook Group

Skippack 2012 Theater Dates and Other Events

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The cast of An Ideal Husband

The cast of An Ideal Husband: Front - Mark Ayers, Mare Mikalic. Back from left - Ken Uller, Judy Van Buskirk, Christine Martuscello, Anthony Marsala, Kristen Riley, Rich Geller, Janene Gibbons, Christopher Applegate.

Ken Uller played the role of Mason (a butler) in the Playcrafter's 2012 production of An Ideal Husband and also served as stage manager.

Ken Uller played the role of Mason (a butler) in the Playcrafter's 2012 production of An Ideal Husband and also served as stage manager. I have known Ken for about a year; he is a modest gentleman who volunteers much of his time at Playcrafters, helping to make Skippack a better place to live.

Next up at Playcrafters of Skippack: The Children's Hour by Lillian Hellman

Next up at Playcrafters of Skippack: The Children's Hour, a hard-hitting drama by Lillian Hellman.

The Skippack Blogger's Leading Lady

My leading lady, photographed at the Barn Theater in Skippack: Keep laughing at life, baby, and we'll make it.

After the show: The Skippack Blogger and his leading lady at Hotel Fiesole

After the show: The Skippack Blogger and his leading lady at Hotel Fiesole. A perfect Skippack evening.