CMC Theater presents ‘Anton in Show Business’ |

CMC Theater presents ‘Anton in Show Business’

By Jim Noelker

For Christmas, she brought us the one-man show, “The Santaland Diaries.”

Now, Lynn Aliya brings to the theatre the seven-woman production of “Anton in Show Business.”

The play, which was named Best New Play of 2001 by the American Theatre Critics Association, was written by Jane Martin. It manages to capture the magic and mishaps of the American theatre. “It asks the question, `Why do we do this thing called theater?'” said Aliya.

The story line revolves around the trials of three very different actresses trying to play the title characters in Anton Chekov’s play, “The Three Sisters.”

The play-within-the-making-of-a-play, according to Aliya, stars the glamorous television star Holly Seabe (played by Jorie De Vilbiss), whose agent convinces her that performing in a theater production will buy her some respect and help her segue into a film career; Casey Mulgraw (Jennifer Johnson), the queen of Off-Off-Broadway who has been in more than 200 productions without ever being paid a salary; and Lisabette Cartwright (Sara Hale), who has been afraid of an actor’s life, so she has been teaching third grade until in a dream the Lord himself reaffirms her calling and she makes her comeback in “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Dawn Pyle, Amber Wissing and Jill McConaughy cleverly juggle multiple parts, including directors, actors, critics, corporate sponsors and other characters who swirl in and around the casting and rehearsals of the production within the production.

The show raises several questions, Aliya said. “It asks if theater is culturally important enough to be the subject of a play. It definitely explores what a career in the arts in America is all about.”

It touches on what people go through to be in theatre, she said. “Sometimes it’s not about talent. It’s about being in the right place at the right time, or having the right look.”

Theatre would not be theatre without the audience, Aliya noted. Through a “surprise person” in the audience, the play touches on the role the audience plays in theatre’s success, or failure.

“The audience is a participant in the process,” said Aliya. “People leave feeling really charged.”

Tom Cochran of CMC Theatre is the show’s producer. Cochran had asked Aliya to direct a play last fall, and the two chose “Top Girls,” by Carol Churchill. “It’s a great play, but it’s a very `museum piece,'” she said.

After directing “Santaland Diaries,” she decided she wanted to do something fun.

Cochran and Aliya went back and forth on which play to perform, she said. They finally agreed on “Anton in Show Business.”

“It’s really fun to work with all women,” said Aliya, who last year founded the Women’s Artist Company of Colorado (WACCO) Productions. While Aliya’s mission is to promote, nurture, develop and nourish women’s artistic visions, the company is far from exclusive to women, as was demonstrated when Aliya directed poet Barry Smith in “Santaland.”

Working with Tom Cochran, she added, has been “refreshing and inspiring.

“He’s a reminder of what theatre is about and that it’s for the community; that this is in our souls.”

Saturday night is the final performance. For tickets and more information on CMC Theatre, call Tom Cochran at 947-8252.


CMC Theatre under the direction of Lynn Aliya


“Anton in Show Business,” a comedic look at women in theatre. Recommended for mature audiences.


New Space Theatre, Colorado Mountain College’s Spring Valley Campus


7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 15 and 16


$10, $8 for students, at the door

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