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Capital Stage Takes a Close Look at “reasons to be pretty”

Cole Alexander Smith as Greg, Stephanie Altholz as Steph

"reasons to be pretty" at Capital Stage is the third in a trilogy of
plays by provocative contemporary American playwright, screenwriter and
director Neil LaBute. Capital Stage previously staged "The Shape of
Things" (2006) and "Fat Pig" (2007). These three plays are LaBute’s
examination of the modern day obsession with physical beauty.

The play opens with a bang. As LaBute describes the scene in his
script: "Lights burst on. At home. Two people in their bedroom, already
in the middle of it. A nice little fight. Wham!"

We don’t know what Greg said. Greg doesn’t seem to know what he said.
Steph seems quite clear what Greg said -or at least what her best friend
Carly couldn’t wait to tell her Greg said about her. What ever Greg
said it is enough for Steph to walk out on their four year relationship.

Cole Alexander Smith portrays Greg. Smith is a regular on Northern
California stages. He has the everyman, average Joe look that is perfect
for the role of Greg. The audience can’t help but feel a little sorry
for Greg as he learns several life lessons through the course of the
play. Smith’s portrayal of Greg is spot on.

Cole Alexander Smith as Greg, Stephanie Altholz as Steph

Stephanie Altholz, another regular on Sacramento stages, is Steph – the
very angry and upset girlfriend. Altholz takes a role that could be
shrill and unsympathetic and allows the audience to see Steph’s humanity
and where this anger is coming from.

It is fascinating to see Altholz who’s last role was the first grader
May in "Junie B. Jones, Jingle Bells Batman Smells" at the B Street
Theatre Family Series create such a strong adult character. There is,
though, some six year old behavior in all four characters here!

Debuting at Capital Stage are Chad Deverman as Greg’s best friend Kent
and Allison F. Rich as Steph’s best friend Carly. Greg, Kent and Carly
are also co-workers on the night shift at a packaging and distribution
plant.

Chad Deverman as Kent,  Allison F. Rich as Carly

Deverman’s Kent is the guy the audience loves to hate. Kent learned
early on that he can bully his way through life. That is except with
his wife. With Carly, Kent turns on the charm and can lie so sweetly.
Deverman balances his performance to create a Kent that is nasty enough
to hate but not so over the top to be unbelievable.

The role of Carly could also be one dimensional – the trouble making,
tough woman. She works security at the plant. Rich allows Carly’s
vulnerability and empathy to come through. She also embibes Carly with
believable emotional growth.

Capital Stage co-founder and producing director Jonathan Williams puts
on his set designer hat here. He has created an eye popping pop art set
that is also versatile. It becomes a bedroom, workplace break room,
restaurant lobby and a ball field. And part of the fun of the play is
watching the set morph into each setting, some more than once.

Lighting by Ron Madonia, Costumes by Rebecca Redmond, Brad Thompson’s
sound design and even Michael Coleman’s props add to the fun and
believability of the play.

Capital Stage associate artist and frequent director Janis Stevens
direction keeps the action moving along. She creates an urgency of how
will all the effects of all these emotional entanglements resolve
themselves. Stevens brings out the humor in all of this.

Neil LaBute asks an important question in "reasons to be pretty." The
Capital Stage cast and production staff create a "reasons to be pretty"
that is accessible and even enjoyable while remaining thought provoking.
 

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