TAKE ME OUT – Get Your Red Hots, Red Hot!

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TAKE ME OUT – At The New Conservatory Theater Center, San Francisco. Photo by Lois Tema.

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Fine Arts Critic
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

TAKE ME OUT is a big fly at the New Conservatory Theater Center. Richard Greenberg’s Tony Award winning play is steaming hot and will be selling-out fast. Running through July 11th only, Take Me Out strikes deep into the inner-sanctum of America’s most American of rituals – the Game of Baseball. With straight pitches, curving pitches, fastballs and spitballs flying high/wide/and handsome, Take Me Out arrives just in time to stoke-up San Francisco’s cool season of summer theatre. Under the direction of Ed Decker, Take Me Out moves the New Conservatory Theatre Center solidly into the Major Leagues of The City’s cultural arena.

The cast of Take Me Out is solid gold! As part of NCTC’s Silver Anniversary and in celebration of its twelfth Pride Season, the assembled team represents the finest in Bay Area talent. Founding Artistic Director Ed Decker proves that San Francisco is richly afloat in its cache of Best In Show contenders. With his three theatres at 25 Van Ness Avenue in continuous play, Decker is determined to keep and promote The City’s resident and about-to-be discovered Theatrical Superstars.

Yes! Take Me Out contains Mature Themes and Adult Male Nudity! Next?!

“Play ball!!!”

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MICHAEL UIMARI and BRIAN PATTERSON. Photos by Lois Tema.

After a quick and quiet gasp over bouncing genitalia – even when a gaggle of six is in towel-snapping distance from Row A – the novelty retreats back into “my motivation for being in the room”, and focus shifts back to The Play and The Players. And the subject is poses – the pictures, postures and pastures of a Major League baseball team – “The Empires”. With a possible World Series win dangling on the horizon, the Empires’ star hitter Darren Lemming (Brian J. Patterson) decides to alert the media and outs himself. Until now, Lemming has totally measured-up as the American Dream.

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TIM REDMOND – as Toddy Koovitz, and BRIAN J. PATTERSON – as Darren Lemming Photo by Lois Tema.

Not only does Darren pack a great wallop, he’s good-looking, he’s famous, he’s rich, he’s smart, he’s the perfect blending of bi-racial. One fan, Mr. William R. Danziger (Michael L. Uimari), steps forward and shares his confidential letter. Danziger, an average and complacent guy, is totally fine with the Gay-thing and even smiles at the prospect of his own maybe-Gay son marrying Darren and all the great family stuff that could follow. The problem? Why does IT have to invade BASEBALL?

Enter the new pitcher, Shane Mungitt (Jeffrey Cohlman). Shane Mungitt is your worst Deliverance–type nightmare. A product of too much in-breeding, an orphan from “Arkansar” or Tennessee, Shane can toss out the cutting epithets as fast as he can throw the Empires’ balls into the World Series. Shane takes himself out when he throws a beanball at the opposing team’s star player, Davey Battle (Myers Clark), and strikes him out cold dead.

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JEFF COHLMAN – as Shane Mungitt. Photo by Lois Tema.

Jeffrey Cohlman is a captivating presence. As “Shane Mungitt” he is all at once lovable, pitiable, and incredibly disturbing. At the Opening Night reception, Mr. Cohlman (a native of the Bay Area) was extremely gracious while being praised as Hitchcock’s dream of the perfect psychopath. In his life outside the Ed Decker Theatre, Jeffrey is a musician and filmmaker. He is also a teacher of Theatre Arts for San Francisco elementary students, K – 3rd grade.

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MATT SOCHA – center front. Middle row – BRIAN J. PATTERSON, CARLOS BARRERA, ARTHUR KENG. Back Row – TOM ORR, TIM REDMOND, DONOVAN KEITH. Photo by Lois Tema.

“Take Me Out is a meditation,” says Matt Socha, commanding a great deal of focus in his role as “Kippy”. He is Darren’s one sincere team-member friend and the audience’s narrator/tour-guide between the shower stall and the dugout.

“It’s about diversity,” says Arthur Keng, making his NCTC debut as “Takeshi Kawabata”, the Japanese-born pitcher for the Empires. A recent graduate from UC Berkeley, Arthur is angel-faced and light-hearted out in the Lobby. But on stage he pushes the Sessue Hayakawa buttons – the intense concentration, grace and fire of a Samurai. We’re not altogether certain how he will internalize the shame of Strike 3.

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TAKE ME OUT – Brian J. Patterson. Photos by Lois Tema.

“It’s about opportunity,” claims Brian J. Patterson. Playwright Richard Greenberg certainly provides enough of it in his creation of “Darren Lemming” and Brian steps right up to the plate. Whoever portrays the Empires’ Star Queer must radiate camera-friendly studliness, confidence and charm, along with self-centered distance, loneliness and confusion. He must also demonstrate brute violence in a nude shower scene with “Mungitt” who will later describe the encounter as an attempted rape. The Empires take the Series, but none of them are tagged as MVP.

My vote goes to Patrick Michael Dukeman – the highly-strung, extremely light-in-the-loafers accountant, “Mason Marzac”. Suddenly assigned to manage Darren’s bulging bank account, Mason transforms his shriek-filled and unrequited passions for the dashing player into becoming Baseball’s ultimate numbers and statistics Queen, aka, a “figger filbert”. Who knew?!

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Patrick Michael Dukeman. Photo by Lois Tema.

Patrick Michael Dukeman has reached the level of our great comic actors. He stands between Gene Wilder and Charles Nelson Reilly while flirting with Milton Berle and Ed Wynn. For some Bay Area theatre goers, Patrick goes way-back. With great fondness – the “young Patrick” is remembered and cherished in his musical roles as “Wizzer” (FALSETTOLAND), as “Otto Kringelein” (GRAND HOTEL), and “Molina” (KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN). Now in his tenth production at NCTC, Patrick weaves a glittering and high-arcing rainbow of experience into the performance of a lifetime.

To order tickets on-line: TAKE ME OUT
To order Richard Greenberg’s Tony Award winning play: TAKE ME OUT

Opening May 24th in NCTC’s Theatre 3: WILDE BOYS
Written and Musical Direction by Richard “Scrumbly” Koldewyn

See Seán’s recent articles and reviews:

LA VIE EN ROSE (La Môme) – Biography of Edith Piaf A Sensation at the 50th San Francisco International Film Festival
SPIDER-MAN 3, An All-American Cinematic Marvel
RIGOLETTO – SF OPERA Broadcasts on Classical 102.1 KDFC
JERSEY BOYS – Smashing Records in SAN FRANCISCO
NORMA SHEARER – Headlines the 12th ANNUAL SILENT FILM FESTIVAL
DON QUIXOTE – An Impossible Dream at SF Ballet
THE DAMNATION OF FAUST – Absolute Heaven at Davies Symphony Hall
JEANETTE MacDONALD – First Lady of “San Francisco”
An Interview with PASCAL MOLAT – Principal Soloist, San Francisco Ballet
TERRA HAUTE – An Interview with The Stars, John Hutchinson and Elias Escobedo

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San Francisco Sentinel’s Fine Arts Critic Seán Martinfield is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Ask him a question on AllExperts.com . If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: seanmartinfield@att.net.

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