Thursday, October 17, 2019
The Spot Rolls Out ‘Cats’ and a ‘Stupid Bird,’ Too
Kevin Wade, the Spot’s creative director, tangled with the obnoxious puppet Tyrone from “Hand of God” during the fundraiser.
Tuesday, July 9, 2019


The word “midnight”—the first word in the hit song “Memory”--was scarcely out of Yanna Lantz’s mouth when the group assembled on the lawn of a Greenhorn estate knew:

“Cats” was coming to Sun Valley.

More specifically, The Spot.

Members of The Spot’s Youth Company jumped up to do the “Time Warp Dance,” as did the audience, as the return of “The Rocky Horror Show” was announced.

 “We cannot wait,” said Peter Burke, the education director for the young Ketchum theater company.

The Spot Young Company will present the popular Broadway musical about a tribe of cats called the Jellicies, who are trying to decide which will ascend to their version of heaven and be reborn into a new life.

Andrew Lloyd Webber composed the musical based on T.S. Eliot’s 1939 poetry book “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” which was a childhood favorite of his.

Members of The Spot announced their fifth-season lineup this weekend in an entertaining evening of fundraising that featured a few songs from past productions and a foretaste of music from the 2019-20 season.

Kagen Albright pointed out his favorite Spot production—“Hand to God,” which involved a tyrannical puppet.

A couple dozen energetic youth took part, serving taquitos and other hors d’oeuvres, and taking part in some of the musical numbers.

“What these guys have done in five short years is nothing short of remarkable,” said Matt Gorby, who has appeared in a couple Spot productions.

“There were a lot of days we didn’t think we would be here today. So, it’s really special to be here,” said Lantz, the company’s development director. “We started with $3,000 out of college. We found a place in Ketchum’s light industrial area, and we had to fight tooth and nail to keep it. And today we have three spaces on Lewis Street, and we’ve done 17 productions and four youth productions.”

And, she noted, as the company continues to grow it needs support more than ever. It costs between $10,000 and $25,000 to stage a musical and $4,000 to bring in actor from out of town. And that doesn’t include rent and the company’s “burgeoning modest” payroll.

Bex Wilkinson, a major supporter of The Spot, shares a moment with Mia and David Donovan.

Here’s a look at The Spot’s upcoming season:

  • “American Hero”—Bess Wohl’s sweet and sour comedy, which will run in late August, revolves around three misfit sandwich artists of a new sandwich franchise who must try to keep calm and carry on after the store owner mysteriously disappears. Chosen because Spot audiences wanted more comedy, it portrays the drive to succeed one sandwich at a time.
  • “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” a cult classic revolving around two sweethearts who stumble onto Dr. Frank-N-Further and other creepy characters, will be back in late October. Get ready to sing along!
  • “Cats” will be performed by The Spot Youth Company in December. “From its conception education has been at the core of what The Spot tried to stand for,” said Burke.
  • The musical held the record for a time for the longest-running Broadway show in history. Its song “Memory” has been recorded by more than 150 artists. And it won a Tony Award for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score.
  • “Fun Home” will be staged in January. A musical adapted by Llisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori from Alison Bechdel’s memoir, it concerns Bechdel’s discovery of her own sexuality and her attempts to unlock the mysteries surrounding the life of her gay father.

    New York Times critic Ben Brantley called it a “beautiful heartbreaker of a musical,” one that speaks to families torn by secrets and lies. It was a finalist for a Pulitzer but lost to “The Flick.” It received 12 Tony Awards, winning five, including Best Musical.

  • “Stupid Fucking Bird,” a contemporary adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” will be performed in May.

Page Klune, Lesley Andrus and Anita Weissberg organized the fundraiser and season announcement for The Spot.

The new dark comedy from Aaron Posner fulfills the company’s desire to produce a classic that will fit The Spot’s limited space. It’s about the joy of being how you are and as you are and the dangers of repressing that.

The Spot made the unorthodox move of having two paddle ups—one for pledges to help produce the  season and the other to help pay for student education.

“There’s no greater cause in my opinion,” said Burke of the latter.

Bex Wilkinson became the first ever season sponsor, offering $50,000 spread over two years. And Susan Flynt and Mary Mott were right behind.

Anik Zarkos, a college student who spent her high school years in The Spot Young Company, praised the theater for teaching youth to think like an artist, to listen to their inner voice and to be able to create in a judgment-free space.

“They have allowed a lot of young people to feel heard for the first time in a long time,” she said.

Joyce Fabre, a member of the Wood River Women’s Foundation that funded the youth production of “Pippin,” said she loves that The Spot’s plays are “kind of edgy.”

“I liked ‘Behanding in Spokane’—it was strange but I liked it,” she said. “And I really liked ‘Across the Universe’—I love how they involve youth.”

Laurie Patruno Osti said she too relished the off-the-grid plays The Spot stages. “I grew up in the shadow of the Hollywood sign so I will always support theater,” said Osti, whose mother was an actress who appeared in one of her movies giving cake to Cleopatra, who was played by Elizabeth Taylor. “We need theater, as it’s an expression of our souls.”


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