Compleat Female Stage Beauty opens April 19
The Adams State University Theatre Program presents Compleat Female Stage Beauty, a witty, true story of the English theatre, directed by Dr. Paul S. Newman. The comedy opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 19. Due to explicit sexual content, Compleat Female Stage Beauty is recommended for mature audiences.
The comedy, Compleat Female Stage Beauty, written by Jeffrey Hatcher, is based on actual events that took place after King Charles II decreed female roles would be played only by women in 1660 England. Previously, only men had appeared on stage regardless of the character's sex. What happened to the males who trained and perfected their craft as males playing only females? They became unemployed. This is the back story for Edward Kynaston, once the prettiest and finest actor to play Desdemona and other women's roles, who now, thanks to the king, becomes an alcohol-besotted, female impersonator in only the seediest of establishments.
Kynaston is saved from his self-destruction by Maria, who loves him. While she is nursing him back to sobriety, Nell Gwynn, the king's mistress, approaches him with a proposition. She will pay him to coach the first female actor, Margaret Hughes, on how best to play Desdemona for the King that very night. Will he use the opportunity as a way to gainful employment or to seek his revenge?
The underlying theme of Compleat Female Stage Beauty, "It is not who you are but what you do," appealed to Newman.
Newman said this era birthed the actor as celebrity. "Actors previously had no social status; now they were rubbing elbows with royalty – Charles loved theatre folks – and Samuel Pepys recorded their every thought and action in his diary – the first paparazzi." All of these characters actually existed. Researching their lives, Newman discovered the characters were all very young – college student-aged. "In their youth, they had energy as well as foolishness and lacked an understanding of the consequences of their behaviors."
Compleat Female Stage Beauty includes elaborate costumes, lighting, and sound. Newman said Jim Willis, instructor of theatre, has done wonders with hair and make-up. Newman also hired Anne Toewe as the costume designer and is pleased with her progress on a tight budget. The character of Kynaston has ten costumes alone. All of the costumes are lush and historically accurate.
Individual tickets are $10 for general public, $8 for seniors and students, and free to Associated Students and Faculty with current ASU identification. Show times are 7:30 p.m. April 19, 20, 26 and 27; and 2 p.m. April 28. Tickets go on sale Monday, April 8. To reserve tickets for Compleat Female Stage Beauty, call 719-587- 8499.