By Helen Trisky, Theatre, Film, Art critic
Bruka Theatre has been around for 25 years, and has been producing productions of the quality you would see in any big city in the country where the cast is paid. Bruka is amateur theatre extraordinaire, well directed and produced. The theatre opens its Artown presentation, The Untamed this weekend (July 13-15). I had the pleasure of sitting in the audience on preview night being entertained by not one single story but by 33 different stories each based on a topic. The sketches had those present asking what’s next as they rolled in the aisles. And in one particular sketch you could find most of the cast members hiding in the audience (#43).
July is Artown in Reno, a whole month dedicated to the arts to showcase the talents of local artisans – thespians being one of them. This troop of 14 actors/actress directed by two of the troop members, Stacy Johnson and Ryan Kelly take the creativity that lives in Reno with this cast and produce entertainment, complete with audience participation.
The concept is simple. The cast sat down and wrote thoughts, concepts, small scripts. Ms. Johnson and Kelly then went through those creations and created 99 topics that became short sketches that entertain and tell a short story. It is sort of like Whose Line Is It with a topic, but timed and scripted. Each performance will consist of 33 of those stories the troop created. Each night will be different and even if you take in the show multiple times (and from what I saw it would well be worth doing) you may never see every story.
The performance is unique as the audience does participate, a lot. Ms. Johnson and her hat make the rounds through the audience for the selection of what short will be next. She gets the selected slip and reads its number (the are numbered 1-99). The cast scurries and sets the stage taking their places and positions – and scene.
So there are things like: #99 We have to talk to Stacy; #28 The Exclusive Movie Trailer; #93 Vaginas; #66 Porn in your 30’s; #97 Vows; #87 Luck of the Irish; #41 Guardians; #47 How not to Stage a Kiss; #35 Fortune Teller; #12 Audience Consent; #54 Music of the Night; #77 Sugar Babies and #73 Second Date. The list goes on (remember there are 99, with 33 performed each show). Please note the sketches at times contain adult language. It is not offensive.
Favorites….. well definitely #99 as it is very easy for me to relate to. But the cast, through the direction given by co-directors Ms. Johnson and Kelly and the roles they play being part of the cast, make this comedy production a Bravo on my scale of Bravo or One Night Stand.
Stacy Johnson and Ryan Kelly along with Marki Ho, Michael Rapisora, Dan Wise, Joe Garton, Anna Christine, Wendy Crenshaw, Cody Cannon, Riley McKinney. Stage Crew: Paige Clarno, Julia Butler, Dave Simpson compose the ensemble. Standouts? That is difficult as each is unique in their own way making this presentation for Artown exactly what Artown is about—showcasing the talent that is in Reno.
The Untamed opens Friday July 13 at Bruka Theatre. 99 North Virginia Street. Show time is 8 pm with the theatre opening a half hour prior to curtain. The show plays at 8 pm July 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27, 28. There is one matinee July 15 at 2 pm. Tickets are $18 Students and seniors; $20 general admission in advance. All tickets are $25 at the door. On July 18 the show is Artist night with tickets $10. Seating is open. Tickets are available on line at bruka.org.