Deana Duncan

Other Desert Cities

WICA opens ‘Other Desert Cities’ on Friday, Feb. 13

Set in Palm Springs, Brooke Wyeth is the troubled daughter of a prominent California family, who comes home for the holidays after a six-year absence. She presents her family with her about-to-be-published memoir exposing a pivotal and tragic event in the family's history ─ a wound they don't want reopened. In effect, she draws a line in the sand and dares them all to cross it.

American playwright Jon Robin Baitz said he’d rather drink hemlock than harangue an audience with liberal pieties.

A finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Baitz’s Other Desert Cities involves a family with differing political views and a long-held family secret. But, Baitz said his play is more about humility than politics.

Andy Grenier directs (and acts in) the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts’ production, which opens Feb. 13 and runs through Feb. 28. “Jon Robin Baitz was a student of mine years ago in New York so I am delighted with the success of his play. It’s a well-crafted play with wonderfully developed characters. Each of the characters is strong enough to be the lead in a story of their own, this one happens to be about Brook,” said Grenier.

Deana Duncan plays Brooke, and said the cast talked a lot about the code of ethics demanded of a writer. “This play for me is about the cost of telling the truth and then realizing I (Brooke) didn't know the truth,” Duncan said. “It’s about the courage and strength it takes to finally stop trying to please everyone and finally just say what needs to be said.”

Brooke’s mother, Polly Wyeth, is not having it. Polly considers the book’s publication to be a betrayal of her friends-with-the-Reagans family “that has so valued discretion and our good name.”

Meanwhile, Polly's sister Silda is also visiting, after having spent some time in rehab. Polly and her former American Ambassador husband Lyman are Republicans, while Silda is a liberal. Privately, Silda tells Brooke to stand by her book.

“Don’t back down. You’ll win because you have ideas, and they only have fear,” Silda tells her.

Baitz said he wrote the play to explore what happens when a writer uses one’s life to create something. He says Brooke gets a lot of it wrong and has to deal with that; that she may not know everything she thought she knew about her parents and family. The play, he said, is about what we think we know about everybody and “the absolute un-knowableness of things.”

Whatever it is, this play contains all the makings of an engaging evening: high drama, comic relief, and great repartee written by one of America’s best, living playwrights.

The play shows at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and at 2 p.m. Sundays; Feb.13 through Feb. 28. Tickets are $22 for adults; $18 for seniors; $15 for youths; $15 for everyone at any matinee.

The cast includes Deana Duncan (Brooke), Andy Grenier (director, Lyman Wyeth), Shelley Hartle (Polly Wyeth), Heather Oglivy (aunt Silda), and David Mayer (brother Trip). Lucy Pearce is associate director, Steve Ford is the stage manager, Patty Mathieu designs the lights, costumes are by Mira Steinbrecher, Tyler Raymond is the technical director and Chandra Sadro and Jim Scullin will design the set.

Click Here for Online Purchases.
Online tickets are available until noon the day of the show.
For tickets by phone, call the Box Office at 800.638.7631 or 360.221.8268.
You can also buy tickets in person at the Box Office at 565 Camano Ave in Langley between 1 and 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, or two hours before any show.

Meet the Cast

Production of 'A Christmas Story' is in full swing

There is plenty going on behind the scenes… rehearsals, costumes, sets… and all of the 101 details that make the magic happen.

Waylan Parsell with the   FRAGILE   leg lamp!

Waylan Parsell with the FRAGILE leg lamp!

CAST

These are the talented actors who will bring A Christmas Story to life, right here at WICA.

Phil Jordan – Ralph

Rob Prosch –  The Old Man

Kristin Carlson   Mother

Patricia Duff  Miss Shields/Voice of Schwartz Mom

Hillel Coates (age 11)  Ralphie

Waylan Parsell (age 9)  Randy

Soren Bratrude (age 11)   Flick

Leo Smith (age 10)  Schwartz

Joe Davies (age 14)  Scut Farkus

Ada Rose Faith-Feyma (age 10)  Helen

Jordan Schierbeek (age 11)  Esther Jane

Tess Patty Caldwell (age 10)  Ensemble-Bumpus hound

Phoenix Lester (age 10)  Ensemble-Bumpus hound

Jim Castaneda  Santa, Lead Crew

Christine Chittem  Elf, Crew

Meghan Parker  Elf, Crew

A Christmas Story

You’ll shoot your eye out! ─ ‘A Christmas Story’ returns to WICA in Langley

by Patricia Duff

One boy, one holiday wish, and a world that seems to be conspiring to make certain it doesn’t come true.

Bring the whole family to the hilarious American classic, “A Christmas Story,” which opens at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts in Langley on Friday, Dec. 5 and includes live audience participation!

You may recognize author and radio raconteur Jean Shepherd's memoir of growing up in the Midwest in the 1940s from the movie that became an instant hit upon its release in 1983. The play, adapted by Philip Grecian, also follows 9-year-old Ralphie Parker in his quest to get a genuine Red Ryder BB gun under the tree for Christmas. Ralphie pleads his case to his mother, his teacher and even Santa Claus at Higbee's Department Store. "You'll shoot your eye out!" is the only response Ralphie gets and it begins to wear thin.

Directed by Deana Duncan, WICA is thrilled to bring back this beloved holiday production after 10 years. Duncan remembers her now grown sons playing Randy and Flick back in 2004.

“I loved watching them on stage,” she said. (They laughed about one particularly wild moment when Nicholas as “Randy” got a little overly exuberant with the piggy-eating oatmeal scene.) “I'm looking forward to sitting there on closing night with my two boys, remembering when they were small and walked this stage in these roles.”

It’s appropriate that Duncan reminisces about that previous production of “A Christmas Story.” It was part of her sons’ childhoods, the part of life we can’t wait to grow out of, yet pine for when we do.  

“Jean Shepherd once said, ‘I write about American rituals. Things you’ll find nowhere else in the world.’ He was talking a lot about the way we celebrate and how he remembers his childhood. To him ‘A Christmas Story’ became ‘a reminder of humanity through comedy,’” Duncan said.

“A Christmas Story” represents what Americans remember of our childhoods; what traditions stay with us when we think about the holidays, our family and the place where we grew up. Phil Jordan, who plays the grown-up Ralph (the narrator), grew up in the Midwest, not far from Indiana where the play is set.

“I grew up in the Midwest. My dad was an avid amateur photographer, so I have a voluminous pictorial record of each and every Christmas that extends back before I was born into the mid-1940s.  I have my dad’s entire collection of thousands of slides and his 50-year old slide projector,” Jordan said. 

“The impulse to look back and re-experience the times we were happy is a soothing activity and I think that is why human beings do it,” he added.

Jordan said that, when the play opens, Ralph is reflecting on what he remembers of that one Christmas in the middle of winter in mythical Hohman, Indiana.

“Christmas was a time for snow and hot chocolate and brilliantly white, sunny, blue days of 15 degree weather,” Jordan said. But also bitter-cold winds, the snowball fights and the daily-challenge of living with a harsh winter are all a part of Jordan’s vivid memories of Christmas in the Midwest, which seem to blend in easily with Ralph’s.

“It is a testament to Ralph’s resilience that he knows how to deal with moments of sorrow, by remembering the moments in his life where optimism and youthful invulnerability prevailed over the everyday catastrophes that assail children on a regular basis: the bullies, the disappointments, the exploded myths, the adults in their world failing to understand them.”

Duncan said that nostalgia plays a huge part in this production, which she hopes to evoke with both its whimsical and sentimental sides.

“The play is a snapshot of a time. We, the audience, will sort through the memories with Ralph and hopefully walk out remembering favorite Christmas moments and looking forward to the holiday just around the corner.”

Just don’t shoot your eye out.

Speaking of “just around the corner,” in the lobby before and after the show there will be plenty of holiday fun and games for the whole family circa 1940s Indiana, including Ralphie’s Shooting Gallery, “A Christmas Story” trivia game, and the Triple Dog Dare Hangman Bar with libations for all ages!

The cast of “A Christmas Story” also includes Soren Bratrude, Tess Patty Caldwell, Kristin Carlson, Jim Castaneda, Hillel Coates, Joe Davies, Patricia Duff, Ada Rose Faith-Feyma, Justus Lester, Phoenix Lester, Meghan Parker, Rob Prosch, Jordan Schierbeek, Leo Smith and Bonnie Stinson. Valerie Johnson is the costume designer and Bonnie Stinson designed the sets.

The show plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturdays; and at 2 p.m. Sundays from Friday, Dec. 5 through Saturday, Dec. 20.

Tickets are $22 for adults; $18 for seniors; $15 for youths; $15 for matinees.

Click Here for Online Purchases. Online tickets are available until noon the day of the show. For tickets by phone, call the Box Office at 800.638.7631 or 360.221.8268. You can also buy tickets in person at the Box Office at 565 Camano Ave in Langley between 1 and 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, or two hours before any show. Season tickets for the Theatre Series are available at a discount through the Box Office.


Whidbey Island journalist Patricia Duff began Patricia Duff Writing Services in 2013. Patricia was the Island Life Editor and arts and entertainment reporter for the South Whidbey Record for six years, followed by almost two years as the start-up editor for the online arts publication, Whidbey Life Magazine.  She has been writing about the island community and its artists for about 9 years. Patricia Duff Writing Services creates effective copy for anyone who needs it, including profiles, features, ads, brochures, press releases and web content.