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'Housewives' brings down curtain
BOB ZELLAR/Gazette Staff Venture Theatre is leaving its Central Avenue home with a musical comedy, 'Angry Housewives.' Pictured are Sondra Baker, Lysa Fox, Tonya Kalfell and Judy Morrell.

Venture Theatre's digs are rockin' 'n rollin' as the inventive company offers its last hurrah at its Central Avenue home.

"Angry Housewives" is the swan song at the theater from a company that has brought us more fun and thought-provoking drama than we thought we'd ever get.

Although the play was done many years ago at Billings Studio Theatre, Venture imbues it with new life and energy, and a 2003 spin.

Under Gerry Roe's able direction, the cast creates believable characters who variously amuse, annoy, provoke and touch us.

The story follows four housewives who decide to form a punk-rock band and win a $2,000 prize. The ladies are of varying age, all in the winter of their discontent. Actually, make that all four seasons. These dames are mad as hell all year long and they're not going to take it any more, to quote that TV philosopher played by the late Peter Finch in "Network."

One woman is divorced, one is a single mom, one never married and one is unhappily married.

Four mature actresses take on the roles of Bev, Wendi, Jetta and Carol, in a mid-sized town that could be anywhere in middle America.

As Bev, Judy Morrell plays the part of the long-suffering mom of a demanding and sulky teenager. Morrell, known for her bravado vocals and ability to belt it out to the last row, gives her character energy and urgency. As her son, Chas Llewellyn is properly self-absorbed.

Tonya Kalfell, magnificent as Patsy Cline's chatty sidekick in an earlier Venture performance, takes command of Wendi, dying to break into her creative stride but saddled by Jim Patterson's goofy Wallace, the fishing nerd. Their scenes are funny and touching, and Kalfell makes us see her character's frustration and unsung ability opposite Wallace's more-about-me obsession with the sea.

If you go

"Angry Housewives" is the final production at Venture Theatre's home at 1410 Central Ave. before it moves downtown. The show runs at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday then May 23 and 24. There is a Mother's Day matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10. Call 670-2144.

Lysa Fox's Jetta, a recent mother married to a demanding businessman, has one of the score's best tunes, a woeful ballad about loneliness. Fox's surefire delivery of the goods melts the heart as Jetta's husband, Larry, marches about with his cell phone. Nick Capetanakis plays his role precisely, and all four "men in their lives" give good support.

Sondra Baker's Carol is a delight, fully aware of her chubby figure and making herself appealing to a character named Lewd Fingers.

As the latter, Venture impresario Mace Archer plays Fingers to the hilt, so to speak. Archer shaved the sides of his head and spiked his hair to effect the role of the bar owner whose stage gives the housewives their first break.

"I love that the fat girl gets the guy," giggled Baker, after a run-through this week.

The show has many memorable tunes and fun, rollicking music, with Terri Hammerquist's small, tight band, including Kelly McCann on drums, Andy Dompiere on bass and Jayson Love's guitar.

The women tackle many intricate harmonies and pull them off with the aplomb of a polished barbershop quartet.

The fellas have some fun songs, too, and one is a real show stealer.

If you're a housewife — even if you're not angry — you'll get an evening of chuckles.

If you are an angry housewife, you will get some ideas.

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