The Cover of Life
January 18 - February 2, 2013
The Cover of Life
by R.T. Robinson
January 18 - February 2, 2013
Directed by Jill Stephens
Moving WWII story
Irving Arts Center
3333 N. MacArthur Blvd.
Irving, TX 75062
Fridays & Saturdays, January 18, 19, 25, 26, February 1, 2, 2013 at 8pm.
Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 8pm.
Sundays, January 20 & 27, 2013 at 2:30pm.
Three brides in rural Louisiana in 1943 are married to three brothers who are fighting in the war. Harry Luce discovers these young wives living with their mother-in-law and decides they belong on the cover of Life Magazine. War correspondent, Kate Miller, is assigned to do her first cover story. She spends a week with the women, and discovers, despite their differences, how much they each share. Based on a true story.
|CARRIE BLAKE (Addie Mae McGough Blackard) is delighted to make her debut at ICT. She has recently performed the roles of Grace/BUS STOP with Theatre Coppell, Miss Hannigan/ANNIE with The Acting Studio and Gwendolyn Pigeon/THE ODD COUPLE with Lifestage Theatre.
|AMBER DEVLIN (Aunt Ola Cliffert) last played at ICT Theater on the Edge in A KIND OF ALASKA, which was reprised at Upstart Productions. Locally, she has also performed in UNIVERSAL ROBOTS; IVANOV/Nouveau 47; LA BETE, BLIND DATE/Theatre Three; BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER, HARD 2 SPEL DAD/Dallas Childrens Theater; THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, COMEDY OF ERRORS, CYRANO DE BERGERAC, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING/Shakespeare Dallas; COPENHAGEN, TALKING PICTURES/Stage West; THREE HOTELS; VINCENT IN BRIXTON/Amphibian Productions; THE TEMPEST/Stolen Shakespeare Guild. Local Directing credits: SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, Stolen Shakespeare Guild; CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION, THE HEIRESS, 27 WAGONS FULL OF COTTON/Texas Woman’s University. By day, she is the ICT Administrator. Love always to Eric.
|BAILEY LAWRENCE (Tood Cliffert) is very excited to be performing with ICT for the first time. In August of 2011, Bailey graduated from West Texas A&M University with a BA in Musical Theatre. Since graduating Bailey could be seen in Theatre Three’s production of A CATERED AFFAIR as Janey, and Pegasus Theatre’s black and white, THE FREQUENCY OF DEATH as Alison Stevens. This last spring Bailey was also fortunate enough to have the opportunity to perform in the ensemble for Broadway Backwards 7 in NYC.
|KAREN MATHENY (Weetsie Cliffert) is excited about acting on ICT’s MainStage for the first time. She graduated from TCU with her BFA in Theatre with an acting emphasis. Some of Karen’s credits include HAY FEVER (Sorrel Bliss) and EMMA (Mrs. Elton) at Stolen Shakespeare Guild, INHERIT THE WIND (Mrs. Krebs) at Onstage in Bedford, and she recently finished working as an extra for the film ONEHEART. When Karen isn’t on stage, she works at Amphibian Stage Productions.
|CAITLIN MILLS DUREE (Sybil) is thrilled to be working with ICT for the first time. This show has been an amazing experience as an actress! Getting the chance to work with these other talented women to bring this passionate story to life has touched her own in so many ways. She would like to thank Jill Stephens for giving her the opportunity to play such a unique character and the rest of her cast mates for being absolutely wonderful! Thank you to her friends and family for their continued love and support; that alone keeps her going. Enjoy the show!
|LUCIA A. WELCH (Kate Miller) has been seen on many area stages in the Metroplex, including THE OLDEST LIVING GRADUATE/ICT MainStage; THE KING AND I, MY FAIR LADY, SHOWBOAT, RAGS/Lyric Stage; THE GOODBYE GIRL, THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA/Theatre Three; A MAN OF NO IMPORTANCE, THE YOUNG MAN FROM ATLANTA, LAST SUMMER AT BLUE FISH COVE/Uptown Players; THE DIXIE SWIM CLUB/ Pocket Sandwich Theatre; WORKING, ROCKET MAN /The Labyrinth; MUSIC MAN, THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK; WaterTower Theatre and BABY/Contemporary Theatre of Dallas. Lucia has a B.A. in Speech and Theatre. She has been seen in commercials, industrials and print and is represented by Linda McAlister Talent.
|BRANDON WILHELM (Tommy Cliffert) is happy to be making his debut with ICT. His most recent roles include: Peter in PINKALICIOUS THE MUSICALwith Dallas Children’s Theater; Matt/THE FANTASTICKS, Ennis Public Theatre; Ralph/A CATERED AFFAIR, Theatre Three; Achille Di Rosalba/THE ITALIAN STRAWHAT, Amarillo Opera. Brandon has also performed with: Firehouse Theatre, Garland Summer Musicals, and Theatre Britain. His hobbies include singing a capella music and setting himself on fire as a trained Man on Fire Stuntman. Brandon has a BA in music theatre from West Texas A&M University, Canyon, TX. Romans 12:2.
EVELYN G. HALL (Co Producer) is pleased to be working with this very talented and dedicated cast. Evelyn has been involved with ICT since 1994 and has worked in various capacities including stage management, props, dresser, and stage crew for far too many shows to name here. Additionally for ICT, Evelyn serves on the Director Selection Committee and Nominating Committee. She also serves on The Column Awards Board of Directors, whose 2013 gala is February 25, 2013!
CLAYTON CUNNINGHAM (Co-Producer) is producing his third show with ICT. Clayton serves on the ICT board of directors and is active in acting and set building roles. He would like to thank his fellow producer Evelyn Hall for her tireless efforts to bring THE COVER OF LIFE to the stage. Clayton would like to thank his wife Val for her love and support.
JILL STEPHENS (Director/Set Designer) has directed many shows for ICT over the last 26 years including DON’T DRESS FOR DINNER, NOISES OFF, THE UNEXPECTED GUEST, MOVE OVER MRS. MARKHAM, WAIT UNTIL DARK, THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL, ABSURD PERSON SINGULAR, STEEL MAGNOLIAS, LEND ME A TENOR, A.. MY NAME IS ALICE and THE MIRACLE WORKER. In addition she directed 10 productions for the ICT Children’s Theatre which she founded. Jill has also stage managed over 25 shows at ICT and produced as many. Special thanks to Lois and Robin who have been with me on more productions than I can remember.
LOIS BAIR (Stage Manager) has enjoyed working with this talented director, cast, and crew; they are some of the most talented and hard working in the DFW metroplex. She hasbeen involved with ICTMainstage for over 20 years working behind the scenes and on stage and is currently serving on the ICT Board.
DAWN BLASINGAME (Props) is excited to be working her second full year with ICT. Favorite past shows include YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU, WOMAN IN MIND and URINETOWN. Dawn would like to thank ICT for the opportunity to be involved in theater again, her family for their support, and would like to especially thank her best friend Neil for encouraging her to return to the theater.
ROBIN STEPHENS (Master Carpenter/ Sound Designer/ Sound Board Operator) has been working with ICT in many capacities since 1986. He has produced and designed Lighting and Sound for many shows. Most recently he served as Sound Designer for HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, Stage Manager for LITTLE FOXES, and Master Carpenter for HMS PINAFORE and DON’T DRESS FOR DINNER. Robin has also served as Lighting Designer and Sound Operator for Theatre Britain’s annual PANTO. Robin is a current member of the ICT Board of Directors.
JO ANNE HULL (Props) has produced, and designed props and set dressing for many ICT shows including DON’T DRESS FOR DINNER, BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS, CRIMES OF THE HEART, SHERLOCK’S LAST CASE. to name a few. JoAnne has served as an ICT Board Member.
THE DALLAS COSTUME SHOPPE under the direction of Michael Robinson, who with his team have designed and provided costumes for many area productions: THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, CATS, THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE, LEADING LADIES, and the award-winning NINE for ICT. Area theaters include: Theatre Three, Stage West, Uptown Theatre, Echo Theatre, Rover Drama Werks, Mesquite Community Theatre, Garland Summer Musicals, Garland Civic Theatre, WaterTower Theater, and Lyric Stage. Their costumes for Mozart’s COSI FAN TUTTI were seen at the famous Goldini Theatre in Venice, Italy, as well as for the BBC documentary of BONNIE AND CLYDE. They are the oldest costume shop in the Southwest, serving Metroplex theatres since the turn of the last century.
IAN GARLAND (Scenic Lighting Designer) is currently a theater Major with focus in light design at UNT. While at UNT, he has designed lighting for IN THE BLOOD, WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOLF, THIN THREAD THICK THREAD, AND SYNCHRONIZED IMBALANCES. At ICT MainStage he was the lighting designer for A FEW GOOD MEN AND LEND ME A TENOR and is currently working his 7th season at ICT MainStage.
Under the Covers: At ICT Mainstage, The Cover of Life makes for an emotional time at the theater.
by Kris Noteboom
TheatreJones.com - published Friday, January 25, 2013
Irving — While three brothers are off fighting in World War II, their wives move in with their husbands' mother and soon find themselves the subject of a Life magazine story, if they can just hold their squeaky clean story together, in R.T. Robinson's The Cover of Life, now at ICT Mainstage.
The story follows Tood (Bailey Lawrence), Weetsie (Karen Matheny) and Sybil Cliffert (Caitlin Mills Duree), who are living with their mother-in-law, Aunt Ola (Amber Devlin), in Louisiana while the boys are off fighting a war. The girls' friend, Addie Mae McGough Blackard (Carrie Blake), a small town do-it-all type, gets a story about them in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. That story is noticed by Time magazine and Kate Miller (Lucia A. Welch) is subsequently given her first chance, after a stint as a war correspondent, for a cover story.
The story is, naturally, intended to show the sweet resolve of women whose boys are off defending the country. A fluffy public interest that conveniently doubles as a nice little dose of propaganda. But the thing about life is that it's never quite as idyllic as it's made out to be, particularly as it applied to the lives of women.
The Cover of Life takes a hard look at the cracking façade of feminine domesticity through the eyes of five women, each with their own varying perspective. Kate is the strong-willed, emancipated woman working in a man's field trying to break through the glass ceiling. Aunt Ola is the aftermath of the domesticated woman, only discovering herself once her recalcitrant husband is bound to a hospital bed. If Ola is the "after" picture, Weetsie is the "before." She's dutiful and submissive, aiming to be the best housewife she can be. Sybil sits on the other end of the spectrum as the "modern" girl in a "modern" marriage, which is code for "she still gets to carouse." Arguably the most interesting character, though, is Tood, whose marriage appears to be the one most built on love—and to that end, her husband Tommy (Brandon Wilhelm) is the only male in the cast, appearing mostly as a figment of her imagination—but Tood clearly struggles with the idea of a quiet life in Louisiana.
Robinson's script is quite crisp and pulls together multiple plotlines that while sometimes predictable, never feel stale or trite. Each of the women are fully formed and allowed their moment, and Robinson knows just how to set up the conflicts and interactions for maximum effect on each character. Particularly, the triangle between Tood, Ola and Kate is fascinating. Kate and Ola are roughly the same age, yet their lives are like a tale of two cities. And there stands Tood at the threshold of where the two women's paths divide, and she's absolutely torn. Couple that with the conflict between Weetsie and Sybil and there really isn't a moment wasted in the taut script.
The performances are universally strong. Of particular note is Devlin, who also had to navigate the most difficult character to play. Ola is a woman who, though only in her mid-40s, looks and feels much older. She is weathered and beaten, yet also just getting acquainted with a vitality recently born out of her newfound freedom from a man best described as an uncaring husband. The emotional tenacity of Ola makes her the biggest presence on the stage and everyone heeds to it, as they should. She's the emotional heart of the piece.
Lawrence also enchants as the conflicted Tood. As her relationship with Kate grows stronger, her confidence and independent spirit rise like a tide, subtly but noticeably over the course of the show. And by the end she's like a wave crashing on the shore. It is a deft performance.
Mills Duree and Matheny also embody their characters to the point where, at different times, they're nearly unbearable as the polar opposite, and the far reaches, of the womanhood spectrum. And while that may occasionally get annoying, it's exactly what they're supposed to do. Without them, the intersecting stories of the other three women don't carry as much weight.
Jill Stephens not only directs an excellent show, but her set is of particular note. The minimal take on a small Louisiana cottage is effective beyond an aesthetic level. The choice to show the house as essentially a frame, or exposed, mirrors the exposed nature of the women—particularly the three wives—as they come under the unwanted scrutiny of a newspaper article. Also, this allows more visibility of the plain backdrop, which is used for stirring dramatic effect.
The Cover of Life is a multi-faceted title. In the literal sense, it's a plain statement that all of the action is the result of what at the time was the country's most popular magazine. But beneath the surface, this is a show that covers life. Specifically, it covers the life of women during a transitional time in our nation's history and shows the seeds being sewn for a transformative century, all wrapped up in a play that ranges from hilarious to poignant to tear inducing. It's all-encompassing. It's life.
The Cover of Life
Reviewed by Jeremy William Osborne, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Five women share their lives and support each other in a small town in Louisiana. There are laughs. There are intense moments of heart-wrenching drama. In the end, all of the characters have experienced wonderful arcs and are not the same as when the play began. It's not the play you're thinking of. It's The Cover of Life by R. T. Robinson. However, if you love Steel Magnolias, you'll like this play.
ICT Mainstage brings to life the story of a family of women; three women all married to a group of brothers fighting in World War II and their mother-in-law, living together to share expenses when LIFE magazine thinks it will make a great human interest story. Kate Miller, a career-oriented New York City woman, is sent to their tiny town of "3,000 good Christians" to get their stories. What she found was more than she expected.
All of the actors turn in fantastic performances, making the audience empathize with their situations and drawing them into their world. The wordiness of the script flows naturally from each person. Zinging one-liners pepper the early half of the script and all are delivered impeccably. Later, the script develops more sorrowful undertones as the tension between the family members rises and the truth of their husbands is revealed. Each actress is given opportunities to shine and they are not wasted.
Caitlin Mills Duree as Sybil Cliffert has the widest arc to traverse with her character. She shows masterful skill, moving from the sultry, "modern" southern woman to someone heart-broken, abandoned and angry. Her monologues make great attempts to steal the show. All other performers must raise their performances to keep up with her, which they do, and the whole show benefits from it.
As Tood Cliffert, Bailey Lawrence shows the most character growth from beginning to end. Her performance vacillates between despairing and hopeful and keeps the audience riveted. After the show I found myself wondering as to the final outcome of her character; it's left ambiguous in the script. Great performances stick with you after you leave the theater and Miss Lawrence turns in a very strong one.
Amber Devlin and Karen Matheny bring great depth to their roles in the Cliffert family. Aunt Ola, played by Mrs. Devlin, is the girls' mother-in-law, a simple country woman whose looks betray her age. As she says, "It ain't the years, it's the miles." Devlin's portrayal, like her character, is wonderfully simple but full of life. Miss Matheny, as Weetsie Cliffert, is the conservative woman bent on preserving the family and its traditions, as well as ensuring she adopts the matriarch role after Aunt Ola passes. Matheny gives the rest of the actresses a firm baseline from which to guide their performances. Her character shows little evolution but her portrayal is infallible.
Finally, Kate Miller is the New York City reporter thrown into the lives of these women at the request of her boss, Harold Luce, the editor-in-chief of LIFE magazine. She's reluctant and wary of leaving her cosmopolitan life to live temporarily amongst the bumpkins of Sterlington, Louisiana. However, her experiences with the Clifferts, especially Tood, inspire her and change her life. Lucia A Welch has quite the challenge set in front of her to tackle such a role. Nevertheless, she is adept and acts as the thread that ties the show together.
Technically, ICT Mainstage's production of The Cover of Life is very simple, a technique I always enjoy. The set is nothing but a few platforms decorated with the necessary household tables and chairs and a frame of a house in the background. This is very effective at keeping the focus on the actors and it works beautifully.
The sound design is sparse, with just a few necessary effects which are well chosen and placed. Also, time period appropriate music is used to fill the seconds between scenes. Robin Stephens' choice to use original recordings, not the digitally "cleaned up" versions, cements the audience's perception in 1943.
Most problematic for The Cover of Life is the lighting design. For the most part it is brilliant, with colors reflecting the mood or theme of a scene. However, there are several places when more coverage is needed as characters move about the stage. In several scenes an actor's body is better lit than their head, which is jarring to see and pulls focus from the play.
Despite an indefinable lack in the overall production that leaves something to be desired, The Cover of Life at ICT Mainstage is a very good production. The actors all turn in fantastic performances, breathing life into their characters and making the audience care for them. They deserve the support of adoring audiences and should be seen.
Directed by Jill Stephens
Sunday, November 11, 2012 from 2 - 4pm
Monday, November 12, 2012 from 7 - 9pm
Performances: January 18 - February 2, 2013
Auditions will be cold readings from the script.
Please bring headshot/resume or updated photo and resume.
We offer a gas allowance.
Call 972-594-6104 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment.
Roles: 1 Male, 6 Female
(all roles are available)
The play is set in Sterlington, Louisiana.
KATE: Early 40’s. Correspondent/Photographer for Life magazine. Successful woman in a man’s world.
TOOD: 19 years old. Pretty, genuine, a bit of a dreamer, but determined.
SYBIL: 25 years old. Flashy. “Sophisticated” or “Fast” in her crowd.
WEETSIE: 20 years old. Plain and a little plump. Very religious and very much the country girl.
AUNT OLA: Mid-forties, but appears older. The mother-in-law of the three young women. Strong, matriarchal.
ADDIE MAE: Mid Forties. Local newspaper reporter. Affected stylishness.
TOMMY: 20 years old. The youngest brother of the family. Eager, friendly, insecure. He is a sailor, serving in the South Pacific.