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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Big dreams for Lake Geneva's newest theater company

"Private Lives" debuts July 4

By Donna Lenz Wright/The Week

Area live theater fans are in for a big treat as there's a new professional theater company in town planning some big theatrical treats for locals and visitors.

Photo submitted by Laura DeMoon
Kelly Dean Cooper (left) playing Elyot Chase and Molly Glynn (right) playing Amanda Prynne in "Private Lives."
The Lake Geneva Theatre Company will present Noel Coward's classic comedy, "Private Lives," each weekend July 4-27 and Aug. 1-3 at Horticulture Hall in downtown Lake Geneva.

The Lake Geneva Theatre Company is a professional company, organized by Laura DeMoon, president and artistic director of the not-for-profit group.

DeMoon is a professional actress from New York, N.Y., and worked at Steppenwolf in Chicago, when she first came to the Midwest. She is currently with the First Stage Children's Theatre and manager of the Bunny Gumbo Theatre, both in Milwaukee.

"We chose to name it the Lake Geneva Theatre Company because it is of and for the community," she said. "This is the perfect place for regional theater."

Live theater runs through DeMoon’s veins and this has been a dream of hers for quite some time.

"I’ve been producing combat theater in Milwaukee--sort of a rave for theater goers," she says. "We write the play, practice and perform it all in one night.

But she's not content to keep her ideas on a one-or even two-dimensional theater model. Rather, she dreams of reproducing events like the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada right here in Lake Geneva as early as next year.

"That’s my model--my dream," she said. And her enthusiasm will likely make it happen. "We could be like the Woodstock of theater.

"To me it was a no-brainer. We have the infrastructure and need something like that. We have so many great visual artists in our community and we need to exploit that asset.

"This could be a jewel in our community. One day we could have several theater spaces and when family comes, you’d be proud to take them to the theater."

She’s received warm welcomes by business owners and citizens of Lake Geneva, further cementing her visions.

"Everyone has been so enthusiastic," she said. "I want to do this for the community members as much as for the tourists. We need it for our health, happiness, spirit and all of the good stuff the arts bring to a community."

Actors in the company’s debut performance come from Chicago and Milwaukee theaters.

"A lot of theaters in Milwaukee and Chicago go dark in the summer. That lets us come in and scoop them up," DeMoon said.

'Private Lives'

Coward described his play as an "intimate comedy in three acts," as it revolves around two honeymooning couples who find themselves staying in hotel rooms adjacent to their ex-spouses.

This ridiculous coincidence forces them to question fate and the nature of true love. The play is a classic example of the smart banter of the 1930s, which Coward championed with famous quotes such as, "Water is necessary for life, but the martini is necessary for a life worth living."

"One couple, who've been married, divorced and remarried to other people are honeymooning on the French Riviera and end up in adjacent hotel rooms," DeMoon describes.

"Of course, they see each other. And of course, they run off together."

In Act II the audience sees them together in their very volatile relationship.

"They fight, then they’re happy," DeMoon says. "They're a very witty, volatile and romantic couple."

In Act III, the new spouses find them for a confrontation.

"It’s a simple idea with very witty quips going back and forth. It’s classic of the movies of the 1930s."

In respect to Coward's respect of martinis, DeMoon has included a martini bar to greet guests in the courtyard during intermission.

"People can have a complimentary martini so they’ll feel like part of the whole story. It will be very glamorous."

DeMoon says she chose this play as their debut performance because Coward spent many summers at Ten Chimneys in Genesse Depot with theater-loving friends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne.

For more information and tickets, call 325-4753, visit www.lakegenevatheatre.org or e-mail ldemoon@lakegenevatheatre.org.

The company

Laura Frye--New York actor who moved to the Midwest

Kelly Dean Cooper--from the stages of Steppenwolf, Royal George, Writers' Theatre, Remy Bumppo and Milwaukee Shakespeare and others

John Maclay--associate artistic director of First Stage's Children's Theatre, Milwaukee

Molly Glynn--from the stages of the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre on Navy Pier, First Stage, Steppenwolf and the Goodman

Nora Sachs--French/drama major from Wisconsin, currently studying at the University of Minnesota.

Laura DeMoon--Director

Stage manager--Diane Rector

House manager--Patrick Schley

Costumes--Kim Instenes--from the stages of the First Stage, Racine's Theatre Guild and Milwaukee Shakespeare; National Design Award-winner from the American College Theatre Festival at the Kennedy Center; professor at UW-Parkside; and is part of the team expanding the theater department at Carthage College.

Technical design--Scott Wirtz-Olsen--served as production manager for Skylight Theater and First Stage Children's Theatre in Milwaukee, and currently a professor at Carthage College.

As a professional company, Lake Geneva Theatre Company has an agreement with Actor's Equity, the actors union, to contract two Equity actors for their current production--Molly Glynn and Kelly Dean Cooper.

Ooo

To Do

What: Lake Geneva Theatre Company presents Noel Coward's "Private Lives"

Where: Horticulture Hall, Lake Geneva

When: Each weekend July 4-27 and Aug. 1-3

Info: Tickets are $25. Contact Laura DeMoon, 325-4753, visit www.lakegenevatheatre.org or e-mail ldemoon@lakegenevatheatre.org

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