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The original item was published from 2/20/2019 3:31:00 PM to 3/10/2019 12:00:00 AM.

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Leisure Services

Posted on: February 20, 2019

[ARCHIVED] Backstage play ‘Seven Interviews’ opens March 1 at CPAC

Seven Interviews

COOKEVILLE – It’s the sort of play that will leave you wondering about things – like the unexpected outcome of a dialogue between psychiatrist and patient. Or the unlikely customer for a hit-man.

Or what your office cleaning lady has been up to.

“Seven Interviews” – actually seven short plays – opens March 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Cookeville Performing Arts Center. It continues March 2, 5, 7, 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. and March 3 at 3 p.m.

“The first time I read the play I was left scratching my head on what the overall message could be,” Director Kim Frick-Welker said of the 2014 play by Mark Dunn. “But upon a second read through, and especially after hearing actors give voice to characters, I believe the overall message is that life is not black and white. There are countless shades of grey… and this is why our audience will see actors wearing shades of grey.”

“Seven Interviews,” the latest production in Cookeville Leisure Services’ award-winning Backstage Series, is described as theatre at its most elemental, with just a desk, three chairs and two to three actors per interview.

Each interview illuminates some aspect of the human condition. Some are funny. Others are tragic.

One is a job interview to replace a secretary who is giving her employer nightmares. Another focuses on a biographer’s realization that she doesn’t know her subject at all. Then there’s the matter of a baseball team mascot who is frightening children at the ballpark.

Other situations include a conference between a school principal and parent over the expulsion of a student and an office cleaning lady caught red-handed on Christmas Eve.

The minimal set of “Seven Interviews” makes it ideal for the Backstage Series, in which patrons are seated on the stage within a few feet of the actors for a more intimate theatrical experience.

Fourteen actors portray a total of 18 characters in the seven interviews.

Among them is Nancy Dennis Campbell, who has two roles in the play: Myra Henderson in the fifth interview and Mrs. Domanion in the seventh interview.

“Myra Henderson is very black and white – unable to accept anything that doesn’t fit her one particular way of looking at the world,” Campbell said. “Conversely, Mrs. Comanian fully embraces the grey spaces of life, adapting to all types of challenges in order to live the ‘happy life.’”

Pat Frank also has two roles.

“My characters differ greatly, which makes this type of play really fun,” Frank said. “In the first interview, my character, Mr. Toddle, is a business owner – a very nervous, squeamish guy who is trying to replace his secretary and has gotten himself into quite a pickle.”

In the seventh interview, he portrays Mr. March, a tough, no nonsense, proud-to-be-an-American sort of guy.

“He has quite an interesting secret and turns out to actually have more of a heart than he first appears to have,” he said.

Frank believes the local theatre community will appreciate the break from the traditional one-themed show.

“This show reminds me of those old Carol Burnett skits from her variety show,” he said. “Some are funny, some are dark, some are serious, but they all touch on topics that are relevant in today’s world.”

Frick-Welker noted that several new faces have joined a cast of experienced actors in the play, bringing new energy she believes is vital for the future of Cookeville’s theatre community.

“With this production, six men and eight women from every walk of life, representing a wide range in age and theatrical experience, with varying political, social and religious viewpoints, became family,” she said. “This is why theatre has been my life for 40 years and why I strongly encourage communities to support the performing arts.”

Chad McDonald, executive producer for the series, added, “‘Seven Interviews’ is an ideal production for the backstage setting. Not only are the themes timely and relevant, the physical proximity between audience and actor works really well as each story is told in a different setting within the space. I am thrilled with the direction Kim has pursued in staging the play, and I think audiences will be intrigued throughout.”

“Seven Interviews” is produced by Cookeville Leisure Services and CPAC through a special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc., New York. The show runs approximately 90 minutes with one intermission. It includes content which may not be suitable for all audiences.

Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $7 for students. GET TICKETS HERE or call the CPAC Box Office at 528-1313.

* * *

Cast of Characters

The First Interview
* Roger Toddle – Pat Frank
* Gina Gallagher – Mary Grace Winscott
* Beatrice Carpenter – Regina Pierce Mabry

The Second Interview
* Delores Carr – Elizabeth Mitchell
* Timothina Russell – Alia Mitchell

The Third Interview
* Felicia Penetti – Staci Brewster
* Gordon Green – Sean Mitchell

The Fourth Interview:
* Dr. Judy Gable – Sharon Henry
* Frank Hallowell – Johsua Mitchell
* Yvonne Simms – Simone O'Dell

The Fifth Interview
* Myra Henderson – Nancy Dennis Campbell
* Deanne Sprawley – Staci Brewster
* Huck Gleason – Brian R Anderson

The Sixth Interview
* Vincent Gampion – Ted Woods
* Julianna Buchner – Elizabeth Mitchell

The Seventh Interview
* Mrs. Domanion – Nancy Dennis Carpenter
* Abel March – Pat Frank
* Britt Fletcher – Daniel Mitchell

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