September 11, 2009

Racine Theatre Guild comedy 'Hotbed Hotel' searches for a deeper farce

Randy Rehberg and Anne Mollerskov in Hotbed Hotel

The challenge with acting in a farce? Not being farcical.

That's from Herschel Kruger, who is directing the Racine Theatre Guild's new comedy, "Hotbed Hotel," which opens tonight and runs through Sept. 27.

Kruger, head of the theater department at Carthage College, as a British-style comedy set in America. The play, written by Michael Parker, centers around a couple trying to sell a one-star hotel, and everything that goes wrong as they make one last attempt to woo a buyer. (Click here for the cast and more on the plot.)

Kruger said the tendency in a play like "Hotbed Hotel" is for actors to get caught up in the eccentricities of the script and overact their parts.

"The trap is to overdo it," he said. "What we've tried to do is eliminate those moments."

The key for the cast is grounding their characters by creating real moments of interaction on stage. From there, Kruger said, the comedy can build throughout the play.

"If you can act with your partner without creating some kind of gimmick the audience will be with you," he said.

"Hotbed Hotel" is Kruger's first play for the Racine Theatre Guild. He's been a theater professor at Carthage for the past five years and lived in New York City for six years building scenery and working just about every other theater job imaginable.

Kruger complimented his cast for putting in longer hours outside of their day-to-day jobs.

"They work eight hours during the day and three or four hours at night rehearsing," Kruger said. "It's a busy group of people. They're very committed."

The cast includes:

Mary Kveton - Terri Cody
Brian Schalk - Brian Cody
Randy Rehberg - Sam Lewis
Andrew Wallace - Maintenance man
Laura Bambrick - Maid
Mike Shelby - Major Posenby
Stacey Duchrow - 'The Barracuda'
Anne Mollerskov - Ashley
Sam Shelby - Dorothy

Herschel Kruger

Production stage manager
Kelli Kauzlarich
Set Designer
Maureen Kruger

Performances of “Hotbed Hotel” are scheduled on the three weekends between Sept. 11 and 27. Show times have changed this season. Each weekend there are performances at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. There are also performances at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19; at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 20; at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 24; and at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26.

In conjunction with their sponsorship, radio stations WRJN and Lite Rock 92.1 will be giving away prizes. At the Sept. 26 evening show, hotel keys will be distributed for a contest at intermission with prizes, including an overnight hotel stay. At the end of the run, winners will be drawn from participants who have filled out entries at the Theatre Guild throughout September.

Tickets cost $16 for the 7:30 p.m. shows and $14 for all others. Discounts are available for seniors, season subscribers, groups and students (not recommended for young children). Season tickets, both flex passes and five-play packages, starting at $50, are still available. Box office hours are 12 to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 90 minutes prior to curtain through intermission at performances. For further information and reservations, call 262-633-4218 or the RTG on the web.

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