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Gin and drag in Folsom's Sutter Street spotlight

By: Eileen Wilson, Telegraph Correspondent
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FOLSOM CA - Sutter Street Theatre is a study in contrasts this month when they pair the farcical and fanciful ?Leading Ladies? with the bitterly biting tragi-comedy, ?The Gin Game.? While both plays feature outstanding casts, ?Leading Ladies? is plot driven; ?The Gin Game? is a character study that will cut right down to the metaphorical bone. ?Leading Ladies? director, Warren Harrison, co-produces for Chautauqua Playhouse and he recently portrayed Felix in Sutter Street?s ?The Odd Couple.? He is thrilled to be part of this show, which opened on June 8. ?When Sutter Street came to me and said, ?We have this very funny show we are thinking about doing ? ?Leading Ladies,? are you familiar with it??, I was excited. I was familiar with the show, which is written in a very traditional, farcical style,? Harrison said. ?Leading Ladies? premiered at Cleveland Play House in 2004, and was written by Ken Ludwig, who was nominated for a Tony Award for ?Lend me a Tenor? in 1989, and won a Tony for ?Crazy for You? in 1992. ?Leading Ladies? employs comic devices that have been around since the very beginning of theater ? mistaken identities and men who impersonate women. ?The situation is a little absurd, in the fact that no one recognizes that people are using others? identities,? Harrison said. Absurd in a wonderful way. The show stars Michael Coleman, a Sutter Street regular, and Ryan Adame, who Harrison describes as an extremely talented actor. ?They are both playing Shakespearean actors who are down on their luck,? Harrison said. ?The show is fast paced and the dialog is very funny ? double entendres included.? Harrison said he loves both watching and directing comedies, and with all the seriousness in the world today, we need comedy more than ever. Artistic Director Connie Mockenhaupt agrees that everyone needs a laugh, and ?Leading Ladies? is the perfect place to get a heavy dose. ??Leading Ladies? is such a great farce ? there?s just nothing funnier than these men dressing up as women,? she said. For comedy of a darker nature, audiences will love ?The Gin Game.? The book won a Pulitzer in 1978, and the play, which opened in Los Angeles, was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play the same year. The original Broadway performance included the notable actress Jessica Tandy, who won a Tony Award for Best Actress, and she was later replaced by Maureen Stapleton. The show, which is directed by Janelle Kauffman, is a story about two people who are living in a retirement home and discover a common interest in the card game, Gin Rummy. ?The characters aren?t very happy about being in the home, and the story takes place during their conversations over a deck of cards,? Mockenhaupt said. ?But it?s really a story about the characters? lives.? ?The Gin Game? was author D.L. Coburn?s first play ? a play that he described as ?a tragedy with funny moments.? ?This was the second play we ever did at Sutter Street,? Mockenhaupt said. A play, that with raw language, and even rawer emotion, is sure to make audiences laugh, while contemplating the vagaries of human nature and the tragedies that are part of the human condition. * * * know and go: ?Leading Ladies? When: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 4 p.m. Sundays, through July 8 ?Gin Game? When: 1 p.m. Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, June 21 through July 15 Tickets: $23 general, $21 SARTA and seniors, $18 students, $15 children 12 and under Where: Sutter Street Theatre, 717 Sutter St., Folsom Info: Sutterstreettheatre.com or (916) 353-1001