Tempe Little Theatre opens the 2010-11 season on September 17 with The Kitchen Witches by Caroline Smith.
It has been said: "Revenge is a dish best served cold; in the heat of the moment, a spontaneous revenge can not be well executed nor properly enjoyed." In The Kitchen Witches, the main characters, Isobel and Dolly, share a mutual, often comical, disdain for one another that has simmered with years of hatred.
The Kitchen Witches is directed by Lack White and co-stars two of the Valley's most popular and accomplished actresses, Janis Webb as Dolly and Shari Watts as Isobel, the two delightful, dueling domestic divas. .Also featured in the cast are Will Hightower, Andy Jacobs and .Jillyn Jacobs. The production has sets by Sharon Gonwa and costumes by Emily Rubin and Joe Navan.
The Examiner had the delectable pleasure of speaking with award-winning actress Janis Webb about what's cooking over at Tempe Little Theatre with The Kitchen Witches.
Q: The Kitchen Witches playwright Caroline Smith is little known in the States. What can you tell us about her?
A: I know that she is Canadian. This show has a cult following in Canada. I know that she has written a sequel but I haven't read it yet. I discovered The Kitchen Witches through a friend about two years ago. He loaned it to me and suggested I read it knowing that I would just love it. When TLT announced it as part of their 2010-11 season, I thought, "Wow! That would be fun to do!"
Q: What can you tell us about The Kitchen Witches?
A: It's just a farcical, very funny comedy. It has fabulous parts for two mature actresses and that doesn't happen all that often nowadays. There's a lot of slapstick humor but it's also a nice story about friendship and how it lasts through the years. The play explores the relationship between the two women and their son. I think audiences will really enjoy it and have a good time.
Q: Is the play all slapstick and insult comedy or is it more character driven?
A: It's both, really! There is a definite balance between slapstick and character comedy. The two protagonists are definitely very definitive characters but there is also a lot of "ba-dump-bum" comedy.
Q: What is it like working again with Shari Watts in such a completely different atmosphere than your last pairing in Agnes of God?
A: I love Shari. I just adore her. I would work with her in somebody's basement doing something that was even written on-the-fly. Shari is the ultimate professional. She can do anything, comedy, drama, you name it. She is always my partner of choice.
Q: Is this the first time you are working with Tempe Little Theatre?
A: Oh, no! When I first moved here, Tempe Little Theatre was the first theater company that I auditioned for before I started auditioning around town. My first show with TLT was in 2005, Critics Choice. Since then I have been in and directed a several shows for them. I directed Lend Me a Tenor, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress and last season's Sylvia.
Q: You won the AriZoni for Critics Choice.
A: I did! I won it for Best Supporting Actress.
Q: Do you have a favorite play that you have worked on?
A: When people ask me that, I never know what to say. I have a list of five that is always changing. I truly enjoyed directing Sylvia so, so much. Also, getting to play Mother Superior in Agnes of God helped make last season one of the most amazing years in theater that I can remember.
Two years ago, I directed a fabulous little play at Chyro Arts called Private Eyes by Steven Dietz. I loved, loved, loved that show. It had a fabulous cast. Private Eyes was a project that I had always wanted to do but was never able to "sell" it to a community theater because it is kind of weird and different. I am grateful to Chyro Arts for giving me the chance to do that play. It was really special.
Q: You were also nominated this year for an Arizoni for Agnes of God.
A: Yes, that is so exciting!
Q: What other theater companies have you worked with in the Valley?
A: Besides TLT, I have also worked with Scottsdale Desert Stages in Agnes of God, Harvey and Blithe Spirit at Mesa Encore Theatre, Guys and Dolls for Hale Centre Theatre, M. Butterfly for Nearly Naked Theatre and An Inspector Calls for Theater Works, among others.
Q: Is there a play that is high on your list to tackle?
A: I would love to do' Night Mother and God of Carnage. I have done so much comedy over the years that I would now love to sink my teeth in some dramatic roles. It would be so wonderful.
Q: Do you have any funny/odd stories from a play that simply drove you mad?
A: I had someone write me a letter after directing Lend Me a Tenor at TLT. Apparently he wrote down every single swear word in the play and listed alternative words that I could have used. I guess this person had a tape recorder or took rapid shorthand.
Don't ever work with a cat! I had to work with a cat once and that was probably the worst experience I have ever had. It was in the play David and Lisa. Lisa is supposed to have a cat. We had a feline that was supposedly trained but it wasn't and you never knew what that animal was going to do every night.
At one performance, it ran up the curtains. One night it jumped up and got in my hair. Now I don't do cats!
Q: What's up next for you?
A: I have nothing planned yet. There are a couple of things this season, coming up in January and February, that are really interesting to me. One of them is A Man for All Seasons at Fountain Hills. I would love to play Alice. I would love to play the part of Old Edie in Grey Gardens at TLT.
The complete TLT 2010-11 season:
The Kitchen Witches September 17 to October 3
The Agony and the Agony November 19 to December 5
Grey Gardens March 18 to April 3
Getting Sara Married May 13 to May 29
Production photos by Dennis Webb and graphic artwork courtesy of Tempe Little Theatre.
For more information regarding subscriptions for the upcoming 2010-11 season, individual ticket prices, availability and/or updated performance schedules, please contact Tempe Little Theatre directly, either by telephone at (480) 350 8388 or ON LINE.
Tempe Little Theatre at Tempe Center for the Arts 700 West Rio Salado Parkway Tempe 85281