Tuesday, July 27, 2021
 
 
The Spot to Stage Two Musicals, Two Plays Addressing Social Issues
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Spot Company members Brett Moehlenberg, Yanna Lantz, Peter Burke, Natalie Battistone and Kevin Wade premiere a song from “Sweeney Todd,” the musical The Spot will stage in April 2022.
   
Thursday, July 15, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Sun Valley audiences will get to see a play that’s headed to Broadway as The Spot theater company emerges from the pandemic with a fiery passion.

The Spot will stage “Pass Over” in January 2022. This play by Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu received the 2019 Lortel Award for Outstanding Play and the New York Times called it “searing, daring, brazingly theatrical and thrillingly tense.”

The Spot had hoped to stage it last year buts its plans were upstaged by pandemic. It was lucky to hang onto it this year, as it will open on Broadway this fall, said company member Yanna Lantz.

 
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Maija and Al Eerkes enjoy a champagne from the champagne trellis.
 

“While the global community is coming to New York to see it, we’ll get to have it here!”

The Spot took the wraps off its upcoming theatrical season during an energetic summer fundraiser held under towering cottonwood trees on a riverside lawn in East Fork. As always, a couple of plays will touch on the social issues raising red flags in America.

“You’re getting not always the stories you want but the stories we believe you need to hear Lantz told the audience.

The lineup:

 
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Kagen Albright sacrificed creature comforts to spend cocktail hour in a frigidly cold pool as he collected ducks from which one would be pulled for a season pass at The Spot.
 

  • “HEROES OF THE FOURTH TURNING”--August

    This play, by Will Arbery, revolves around four conservative young people who return to a small Catholic Bible College in Wyoming during the total solar eclipse. They’re there to toast their mentor, who has been inducted as college president. But their reunion soon spirals into spiritual chaos amidst clashing politics representative of a country at war with itself.

    “We’re one of the first theaters to present it live,” said Spot Company member Brett Moellenberg. “Allow theater to for at least two hours bring civility to discourse.”

     
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    Annabel Webster is among the young people who have taken part in The Spot Young Company.
     

  • “ONCE”--December

    This musical, based on a 2007 film of the same name, includes the Academy Award-winning song “Falling Slowly.” It will feature the Spot Young Company.

    A 2012 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, it focuses on a young Irish musician who contemplates giving up his music because his songs about his ex-girlfriend are too heartbreaking to sing anymore. But, when an inquisitive young Czech woman tells him he can win his former girlfriend back by playing his songs to her, he resumes writing and performing—now with Girl.

     
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    Ida Belle Gorby, Lizzie Loving, Megan Mahoney and Sara Gorby reprise a song from a past production.
     

    “Better get your tickets because these always sell out real fast,” said Moellenberg.

  • “PASS OVER”—January 2022

    This play draws its inspiration from “Waiting for Godot” and the Exodus story. It features Moses and Kitch—two Black men standing on a street corner hoping that maybe today will be better than the days before. As they dream of their promised land, a stranger walks into their space, disrupting their plans.

  • “SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET”—April 2022

This play, which has received cult status, is the story of Benjamin Barker, who sets up a barber shop in London where he murders his customers with a straight razor and turns their bodies over to his fellow tenant Mrs. Lovett, who bakes their flesh into meat pies. The Broadway musical won a Tony Award.

“We wanted to do something ambitious so we started with a with a musical—that’s what we believed people wanted,” Spot Company member Kevin Wade said.

The energy of Spot Company members was easily matched by those who gathered to support them. A crowd of about 100—the largest The Spot has hosted at a fundraiser—easily matched their fundraising goal of $100,000, with a little extra to boot.

“What they’re doing on a shoestring budget is amazing. What they’re doing for young people is  amazing,” said Jane Springman, as Carol Shephard nodded.

Last year—The Spot’s sixth season—saw just one show. And it was a virtual one.

“It’s been a dry spell but we’re back in action,” said Mike Wade, board president. “The Spot produces fearless theater. Having grown from actors right out of school with no resources, now they’re taking it to the next level, as they train other young actors.”

The Spot added an HVAC system and air conditioning to its small theater space in Ketchum’s industrial district during the pandemic. Company members also hammered out a strategic plan for the next three to five years and gave dozens of private lessons in public speaking and more.

“When we designed the Spot Young Company, we dreamed of that—a company composed of compassionate young people who want to grow their craft,” said Spot Company member Peter Burke. “We want them to know they have a purpose. We want them to know they belong and we want them to know that they’re enough just the way they are.”

Mattigan Monschke, who is going into her senior year, is one of those young people. Not only has she taken part in Spot Young Company musicals but she has been taking private lessons at The Spot during the pandemic.

“I can say the lessons I learned I would not trade for anything,” said Monschke, who plans to pursue theater in college.

Susan Flynt was introduced to the young people who founded The Spot by her son Travis who went to school with Kevin Wade and now is in New York hoping to achieve his acting aspirations. She’s become a sort of Mother Hen, serving as development chair for The Spot.

“I’ve been to every play. I love seeing how a story plays out on stage,” she said. “I like that they have as their mission the idea that everyone should be able to go to the theater. I like that a lot of the shows they do are very impactful to our world socially and politically. And the group is just so much fun.”

Maija and Al Eerkes also attend every show they can.

“I love the intimacy—being so close to actors,” said Maija Eerkes.

“They do some edgy stuff, which you generally either love or hate,” added Al Eerkes. “And they’ve had some fascinating shows.”


 

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