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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Serving Others

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According to a 2005 estimate by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 2.2 million waiters and waitresses are currently working in the United States. Given the profession's high turnover rate, it's fair to say that a sizable number of Americans have waited tables over the years. With its universal struggles, it's a job that just about everyone can relate to-and now it's getting the holy treatment.

In a new play debuting next week at Boulevard Theatre, Stations of the Cross, actress/playwright Beth Monhollen makes a humorous correlation between the waiting profession and the top figure in Christianity. Through a series of 15 monologues, Monhollen details the struggles of waiting tables while mirroring the 15 "Stations of the Cross" in Catholic literature. (Traditionally, the number is 14, but some consider the resurrection to be the 15th.) Monhollen draws on her own experience from having worked in restaurants for six years, but says that none of the monologues are strictly autobiographical.

"I took a lot of artistic license with them, changing details, weaving several stories into one monologue, and just flat-out making some things up," she says.

In addition to Monhollen, the show stars Boulevard Theatre Artistic Director Mark Bucher, Scott Dennis and Katie Merriman. Each actor is given free reign to tweak and adjust the language of the monologues, which should provide the show with an interesting variety of voices. On top of her own experiences, Monhollen drew from stories by bartender Bill Castagnozzi (with his permission, of course).

"Bill had some very funny observations he'd made in his many years of bartending, [including] a 'typical' phone conversation with a drunk caller," Monhollen says. "It was too funny not to use."

The Boulevard Theatre's Stations of the Cross runs April 29 through May 31.

This weekend's openings include a very promising and highly ambitious production of the musical Cabaret at Carte Blanche Studios on South Fifth Street. Clayton Hamburg portrays the American author who falls for a British chanteuse, played by Samantha Paige, who also had a hand in the show's choreography. Also this weekend: the latest in the BERZERK!!! experimental theater series co-produced by Insurgent Theatre and Alamo Basement at the Alchemist Theatre on Sunday.

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