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Friday, Sept. 21, 2012

Dynamic Cast Bursts Through Sunset’s ‘Stage Door’

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The Sunset Playhouse in Elm Grove opens its season with a dramatic celebration of the art of theater. Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman's Stage Door is a tightly written exploration of art versus commerce and stage versus cinema from an earlier, seemingly simpler age.

A very large and busy ensemble portrays the population of a boardinghouse for young actresses in New York in the 1930s. The cast consists of a wide, diverse range of personalities.

Liz Mistele is one of the first to be introduced. She plays a quirky character named Bernice. Mistele sparkles as an actress with enough personality to fill any stage but without any sense of practicality to get her there. Linnea Koeppel is deeply entertaining as a far more pragmatic artist, a working actress with a shrewd sense of humor about the whole thing. Koeppel does an exceedingly good job of bringing the nuance of that personality to the stage.

At the center of it all is Shannon Tyburski as actress Terry Randall, a talented performer who turns down the opportunity to move to the West Coast to become a screen actress. She prefers the purity of the stage. Tyburski is endearing as an artist willing to sacrifice for a meaningful connection.

The cast of characters ends up being the most interesting facet of the production. In fact, the full dynamic of the ensemble even stands above the play’s central conflict between art and commerce.

The Sunset Playhouse's production of Stage Door runs through Sept. 30. For ticket reservations, call 262-782-4430.