NEWS & REVIEWS
Greathouse of Music's News & Reviews
GREATHOUSES' LIFE STORY BECOMES A SHOW SET TO MUSIC
An atypical couple – she is from Czechoslovakia, and he is from Oregon – who had an improbable meeting on a bus, they have turned parts of their life story into a delightful one-hour show that they appropriately named, "You Do Speak English, Don't You?" The title comes from Helena's experiences being misunderstood at times when she was speaking English and was asked what language she was using.
As students at the University of Hamburg, they both signed up to take a one-day bus trip to northern Germany to see mummified bogmen, who fell into bogs more than 2,000 years ago and were preserved. "That bus ride would change the course of my life," Mark says. Helena dons a blue Slovak apron over her costume in anticipation of singing a Slovak "czardas" as the story continues. On the bus, Helena was anxious to talk to Americans to get their opinions on the upcoming U.S. presidential election.
The timing of their meeting was fortuitous because Mark explains, "I had just broken up with my German girlfriend the day before. She wanted me to grow out a full beard, and I shaved it off that morning in protest." Helena picks up the story, saying, "Luckily for you! Otherwise, we would have talked about the election and nothing else."
Almost like a magician pulling rabbits out of a top hat, Helena pulls out props to illustrate their story. After the couple was married, Mark was anxious to show Helena his country, and they moved first to California and then to Oregon, where Helena's language problems increased exponentially.
But in real life and in the show, Mark and Helena decide to laugh off the experiences, with her singing, "Who Cares?" Mark adds, "Don't take life too seriously…" and Helena bursts into song, "Because life is a cabaret, old chum, so come to the cabaret."
Testimonial of the performance "You Do Speak English, Don't You?" in Three Rivers Public Library, Minooka, Illinois Branch, October 20, 2021
Testimonial of the performance "You Do Speak English, Don't You?" in Wilsonville Public Library, Wilsonville, Oregon (September 14, 2019):
Testimonial of performances "Remembering Czech Christmas" (December 20, 2018) and "You Do Speak English, Don't You?" (August 22, 2019):
- Heather Waisanen, Adult Services Librarian
- Lynne Erlandson, Librarian, Head of Adult Services, Cedar Mill Community Library, Cedar Mill, Oregon
- Morgan Brown, musician..response after performance of "You Do Speak English, Don't You?" at Cedar Mill Community Library,Cedar Mill, Oregon
We would be happy to have you here performing next year or any time in future."
- Sandra Samolik, director of the Czech Cultural Center and Museum, Houston, Texas
- One audience response after performance of "You Do Speak English, Don't You?" at Tigard Public Library, Tigard, Oregon
- Thressa C. Marjorie Stewart Senior Center in Sherwood, Oregon
- Jerry MouawadCo-artistic DirectorImago Theater, Portland, Oregon
- Tony BroomArtistic DirectorSerendipity Players, Vancouver, Washington
- Paul RoderCo-Artistic DirectorThe HART Theater, Hillsboro, Oregon
- Jan Sedlácekstarosta obce Križánky(Mayor of Križánky, Czech Republic)
- Newsletter after performance at Comeniuszentrum Ebersdorf, Germany
- Miz KittyArtistic DirectorMiz Kitty's Parlour Vaudeville Novelty Show, Portland, Oregon
Our Book Reviews
RUSH IN TO SEE FOOLS
Broadway crowds, used to the urbane sophistication of Simon's usual fare, gave the show a poor reception when it opened in 1981. However, Fools has been delighting less rarefied audiences across the country for the last 33 years, and the current production at the HART clearly illustrates why. The story is absurd, the premise ridiculous, but Simon's words, shaped by Director William Crawford and delivered by a strong cast, are genuinely laugh-out-loud hilarious.
In a solid 10-person cast, clear comic standouts are Gary Romans (Dr. Zubritsky), Dalene Young (his wife Lenya), and Helena Greathouse (Yenchna, the peddler). Romans' delivery, sense of timing, and fluid facial expressions elicit some of the biggest laughs of the evening. Young is his perfect foil – a wide-eyed, good-hearted, slow-witted version of Imogene Coca. Greathouse – earnestly offering flowers as fish from her wagon (why should she suffer just because the fishermen had a bad day?) – plays her role with the intensity of Lady MacBeth, but coming from her, it's a lot funnier.
The roles of straight man and ingénue are generally limited in comic potential by their functions. Mitchell Stephens (the teacher Tolchinsky) and Sarah Thornton (Sophia Zubritzky) overcome this handicap with a combination of acting ability and, let's face it, sheer cuteness. Thornton's shining moment, when she demonstrates that she has nearly mastered the art of sitting down, is riveting, and Stephens frequent asides draw the audience into the bizarre, Brigadoon-ish village in which he finds himself.
Nobody plays bewildered better than Tony Smith, and as "Something Something Snetsky," the Shepherd, he carries on his grand tradition. Brandon B. Weaver's clipped delivery (as the evil Count Gregor) bristles with befuddled menace. Thomas Wikle, Debby McKnight, and Jerry Hathaway fill out the cast with the requisite quirkiness.
Fools may be joke-riddled, but the HART was dead serious about the set – it is cleverly designed for ease of movement, and the interiors and exteriors are painted and papered to perfection – even in a relatively short show, audiences appreciate fast scene changes!
Fools runs through Sunday, September 21st, with performances at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2:00 p.m. on Sundays at H.A.R.T. Theater, 185 S.E. Washington, Hillsboro.For More Information Visit This Site