Erich Bergen, Rick Faugno, Jeremy Kushnier,
and Jeff Leibow in Jersey Boys
(© Joan Marcus)
Erich Bergen, Rick Faugno, Jeremy Kushnier,
and Jeff Leibow in Jersey Boys
(© Joan Marcus)
Jeremy Kushnier has spent many months touring the country as Tommy DeVito in the Tony Award-winning musical Jersey Boys, which tells the true story behind the legendary musical group The Four Seasons. But even he admits that the audiences in Las Vegas, where a somewhat revised version of the show is playing the new Palazzo Theatre in the Venetian, has been among the most vocal he has encountered. "The problem isn't that they're not liking the show, it's that they're liking it too much," he says.

Kushnier isn't the only member of the show's cast to find performing on the famed Strip a new experience. "Every night's an adventure when there are cup holders in the seats," laughs Erich Bergen, who plays Four Seasons co-founder Bob Gaudio.

The biggest adventure of them all, however, was the show's official opening night last month, which included a huge party where an enormous projection surface dropped away to reveal two-dozen go-go dancers. The performance was held on the 74th birthday of the group's lead singer Frankie Valli, and it allowed the chance for the Boys cast -- including Rick Faugno, who plays Valli, and Jeff Leibow, who plays Nick Massi -- to meet some of the show's real-life counterparts. "The party was pretty impressive," says Leibow, "but bowing with those guys was really amazing."

-- Adam R. Perlman

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James Saito and Peter Christian Hansen
in After a Hundred Years
(© Michal Daniel)
James Saito and Peter Christian Hansen
in After a Hundred Years
(© Michal Daniel)
From 1975-1979, Cambodia was ruled by dictator Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge political party, who were responsible for a horrific genocide that claimed the lives of upwards of two million Cambodians. "There's a tremendous amount of residue from that era that the country is still dealing with," says Naomi Iizuka, whose new play at Minneapolis' Guthrie Theater, After a Hundred Years, involves an American journalist who goes to Cambodia to interview a Khmer Rouge general accused of war crimes.

While the play is informed by numerous interviews that Iizuka conducted with Cambodian citizens, American NGO workers, and journalists, the particulars of the story are the playwright's own invention. "The general is a composite of figures who actually existed in the high levels of the Khmer Rouge," she says. "I went back and forth about whether or not to make him an actual historical figure, but that would make the play more of a docudrama and I think it's important that it stay in the realm of fiction."

As in her play, 36 Views, this current effort examines a multiplicity of truths. "To some degree, the journey of this play is about trying to hold in your mind contradictory and competing realities," states Iizuka. The journalist -- whose own arrogance and blind spots become apparent as the play goes on -- meets a number of characters with different perspectives on Cambodia's history, and the guilt or complicity that they may have in relation to both past and present crimes. "The play is not simply about encountering another culture," says Iizuka. "It's about how that other culture transforms you and makes you look at your own culture and your own past."

-- Dan Bacalzo

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René Auberjonois in The Imaginary Invalid
(© Carol Rosegg)
René Auberjonois in The Imaginary Invalid
(© Carol Rosegg)
"I rarely impose a concept on a play that is outside its period," says British director Keith Baxter about his new production of Moliere's comedy, The Imaginary Invalid, currently being presented by The Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C, complete with period costumes and scenic elements. But Baxter's production isn't the same-same old, same-old. "The play's adaptor, Alan Drury, and I went back to the French texts to insert the opening homage to Louis XIV and a couple of the Commedia Del Arte interludes which have been cut from many translations," says Baxter.

Not surprisingly, Baxter believes the centuries-old work has a great deal of contemporary relevance. "At the time, doctors performed a tremendous amount of enemas and bleedings. Moliere was against the hypocrisy and the amount of money that doctors make and the idiocies of their treatments," he adds. "I'm amazed when I come to America and there are so many advertisements for different medicines. People make a phenomenal amount of money on them, and you never see them on English television."

An award-winning actor himself, Baxter was very particular about the show's casting, which includes Tony Award winner René Auberjonois as the hypochondriac protagonist, and Helen Hayes Award winner Nancy Robinette as the shrewd family maid. "René has a brilliant sense of satire and I think if Nancy were British, she would be a Dame," says Baxter. "American actors are absolutely wonderful, because many of them can act, sing, and dance and that variety in an actor's abilities is quite rare in England."

-- Tristan Fuge