Anoka-Ramsey Community College show is mix of laughter, farce and tragedy

Anoka-Ramsey Community College’s Theatre Department this weekend opens the fast-paced comedy “The House of Blue Leaves.”

Artie Shaughnessy (Ted Yung), Bananas Shaughnessy in hat (Mendi Trandein) and Bunny Flingus (Emily Picardi) are characters in Anoka-Ramsey Community College’s dark comedy “The House of Blue Leaves.” Photo submitted

Artie Shaughnessy (Ted Yang), Bananas Shaughnessy in hat (Mandi Trandem) and Bunny Flingus (Emily Picardi) are characters in Anoka-Ramsey Community College’s dark comedy “The House of Blue Leaves.” Photo submitted

The show is a mix of not only comedy but tragedy and farce, said Blayn Lemke, director of the show and ARCC faculty member.

“You get your money’s worth,” Lemke said teasingly in an interview.

Playwright John Guare sets the show in a New York City apartment in 1965. The production, in two acts, takes place over a 24-hour period, in which the characters undergo great change.

Audience members can expect some historically accurate action of the times. References to Jackie Kennedy and Johnny Carson, for instance, and the time of the first visit of a reigning Pope (Paul VI) to the United States.

The show is about Artie Shaughnessy and his wife Bananas. Artie, a zookeeper of the lower middle class, dreams of becoming a famous music composer for movies. Bananas finds his songs terrible, while Artie’s mistress, Bunny Flingus, encourages his lofty ambitions.

“Blue Leaves” offers up special effects and chase scenes in this production.

Lemke’s first professional acting job was a small role in the same production for Seattle Repertory Theatre in the early 1990s. While back stage, Lemke every night would sneak up to the curtain to watch audience reactions when he heard them breathe a collective gasp in the same spot in the script.

“I loved that idea of taking an audience from giggles and laughter to taking away their breath,” Lemke said.

“Where the audience becomes so much a part of the play, they forget who they are. And, this show will take you there.”

Eleven students round out the cast.

“I hope they’ll (audience members) walk away with a celebration of living a life of dedication and passion,” Lemke said.

Anoka-Ramsey Community College presents John Guare’s “The House of Blue Leaves,” Nov. 2, 3, 8, 9 (ASL interpreted) and Nov. 10, 7:30 p.m. Tickets $8. Appropriate for ages 12 and above. ARCC is at 11200 Mississippi Blvd. N.W., Coon Rapids. Tickets available at college bookstore, online at www.AnokaRamsey.edu/theatre or at the door one hour before performances.

Elyse Kaner is at elyse.kaner@ecm-inc.com


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