Like vaudeville itself, The First Hundred Years, Geoff Hoyle's play on an ancient vaudevillian looking back on his life, must end. The Arizona Theatre Company's production closes May 21 at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix. Performances began May 4 with an opening there May 6. The play originally ran April 11-29 in at ATC's space in Tucson. Berkeley Repertory Theatre artistic director Tony Taccone directs the two-hander.
Hoyle stars as Jack Proust, a music hall and silent film comedian who lives in an abandoned theatre and is alone except for a homeless kid and his vibrant memories. As Proust becomes aware of the theatre's impending demolition for the construction of the Mallennium 2000, he retreats into his personal history, recreating the characters in his life like his aunt Vesta, the old music hall impresario Loess and his mentor Monsieur Alberti. The kid watches, ministers to his needs and may be the only way Proust can learn to face the future.
A former Cirque du Soleil clown, Hoyle created the role of Zazu in Broadway's The Lion King, for which he was Drama Desk Award nominated. His other solo shows include Feast of Fools and The Convict's Return.
Joining Hoyle as "the kid" is Rosalie Ward. Currently a second year student at University of California, Berkeley, she played Little Cosette in Les Miserables in San Francisco in 1990 and studied with the Berkeley Ballet Theater.
Designing The First Hundred Years are Drama-Logue Award winning set creator Christopher Barreca (Marie Christine, Search and Destroy ), regular Hoyle collaborator Peggy Snider (costumes, masks, puppets), lighting designer Peter Maradudin (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The Kentucky Cycle) and Matthew Spiro (sound). Tickets are $32-$20. For reservations, call (520) 622-2823.
-- By Christine Ehren