Play Review--Breeders Theater bows out at E.B. Foote with fine final show at the winery
It was one heck of a run. After 20 shows and nearly a decade of outrageous comedy, Breeders Theater bid us a fond farewell last March. The winery that was their unique performance venue was being sold, so we in the BT audience sadly said "goodbye and good luck" to Breeders Theater.
Or so we thought.
BT founder TM Sell tells us that when the sale of the E.B. Foote Winery fell through last spring, owner Sherrill Miller informed them that the winery would still be available for another production, if they chose to do that.
So, Sell contacted his troupe of actors and asked who would be interested in doing one more show.
"I took those who responded and wrote a show around them," explains Sell. The wonderful result is "Help Desk," an entertaining story about 5 women and their adventures working in a customer support center.
Linda (Emily Fairbrook Shuel), Leslie (Laura Smith) and Fran (Marianne Everett) spend their days on headset in front of a computer screen answering customers' questions about the computer products they sell. These ladies are best of friends when they're not bickering, complaining about their grumpy boss Tabitha (Mari Geasair) or feasting on doughnuts brought in by the company "lunch lady" Maddie (Melissa Malloy).
Linda talks incessantly and breathlessly about most any subject that comes to her mind. Leslie and Fran wish Linda would slow down while she talks, take a breath once in a while and stay on topic. Tabitha just wishes her co-workers would talk less and work more.
In other words, it is business as usual...until a disturbed young man Peter (Andrew Galteland) rushes into the office, waves a gun at them and locks the bewildered ladies into the room.
Who is this deranged gunman? What does he want? Can the ladies talk their way out of this situation?
Okay...we all know the answer to those questions. Of course these resourceful women will find out exactly what Peter wants, and of course they will learn what they must do to get out of harm's way. They are, after all, the help desk.
Director Scott Green puts together a fine story, with a more-than-able ensemble of actors. BT newcomers Emily Fairbrook Shuel, Mari Geasair and Andrew Galteland put in fine work, nicely balancing the comic with the tragic. (Yes, "Help Desk" is a comedy that has a darker side to it.)
Veterans Everett, Smith and Malloy contribute their usual solid work. Melissa Malloy, however, was a stand-out as the lunch lady with a heart of gold. This time, there isn't the customary music by Nancy Warren or choreography by Teresa Widner (or the always delightful presence of BT regular Eric Hartley), but the entertaining story and the good ensemble work by all kept the audience engaged and happy throughout the evening.
"Help Desk" plays weekends through July 30. All shows include the tasting of four E.B. Foote red wines with opportunity to purchase wine by the glass. Tickets are still $20 and can be purchased at the winery or at Corky Cellars in Des Moines.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with the show starting at 7 p.m.
For more information log onto www.breederstheater.com and, by all means, enjoy some of your last taste of E.B. Foote wines.
And by the way, while this is Breeders Theater's last hurrah at E.B. Foote, don't be surprised if they pop up somewhere else.