Welcome to Another Meeting of Minds

Last night was our first theatre for 2010, so I’m taking a few minutes at lunch to write up some observations on it. The show was the first production of “Meeting of Minds” for 2010 — the show is now on a regular schedule of the third Sunday every month at 7pm at the Steve Allen Theatre. This production was Episode #2, the 2nd episode with President Theodore Roosevelt, Queen Cleopatra, Fr. Thomas Aquinas, and Thomas Paine.

This episode was an excellent production. Three of the actors were the same as in Episode #1Steven Culp as Thomas Paine, Bill Smitrovich as Pres. T. Roosevelt, and Joe Spano as Thomas Aquinas. New for this episode were Jack Maxwell as Steve Allen and Stana Katic as Queen Cleopatria. This was an excellent mix of actors — one of the best so far in the series.

Let’s look at each of them. Maxwell, as opposed to Gary Cole (who normally plays Steve Allen) knew his lines much better and had fewers misreads (this is a staged reading) — in fact, he did his entire introductory monologue off-book, which was impressive. Allen’s role is to play everyman: to ask the stupid questions to prompt the guests to respond. He does this well. Culp, who was fighting in obvious cold, was magnificant as Paine. Even with the cold, Paine’s passion for the rights of the common man and distaste for the implicit power of the monarchy came through. He was delightful to watch. Also delightful to watch was Katic as Cleopatra. This wasn’t just for her beauty (she is a beautiful woman), but for the intellect and fire and playfullness that she brought to the reading. She was demonstrably an intelligent queen, not the bubblehead of Antoinette. You could see why she was loved by men as powerful as Caeser and Anthony. Smitrovich had a few more line hesitations this time, but still had the forceful “Teddy Roosevelt” personality as before. Lastly, Spano was reserved as always as Aquinas, who comes across as the quiet, scholarly type as opposed to the powerful characters across the time. Aquinas had the smallest role in this episode; I seem to recall he had a bit more time in Episode #1.

“Meeting of Minds” is now produced approximately monthly by Opening Minds Productions. Meeting of Minds is the third Sunday of every month at 7:00pm at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood. The next episode will featre Jean Smart as Catherine The Great (meaning the other guests are Daniel O’Connell and Oliver Cromwell). As always, the production was directed by Frank Megna.

Dining Notes: For dinner before the show, we hit Cafe Columbia in Burbank as opposed to the usual Fred 62. Wonderful food — we’ll be back there to try more of the excellent menu.

Upcoming Theatre: I’m still working on the 2010 theatre schedule — you can see my planning in this entry.