Theater

Mistaken identity played for laughs

Taos Onstage to present Steven Dietz’s comedy play, ‘Becky’s New Car'

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Taos Onstage kicks off its fall theater season this week with a production of Steven Dietz’s thought-provoking comedy, “Becky’s New Car.” The two-week run begins tonight (Sept. 7) at the Kachina Lodge, 413 Paseo del Pueblo Norte.

The Kachina’s Hopi Dining Room will be transformed into an intimate theater setting.

In a change announced after the print edition of Tempo went to press, Taos OnStage publicist Lynn Lobato announced, "I'm sorry to inform you at such a late date but we had an emergency board meeting and due to unforeseen circumstances dinner will not be offered by Blue Mountain Cafe for the Friday and Saturday performances of 'Becky's New Car' (Sept. 8, 9, 15, 16)."

“Becky’s New Car” is directed by Cindy Valerio and stars Ana Chavez as Becky, with an ensemble cast including Elijah Schauermann, Lee Imboden, Patrick McMurray, Blair Jackson, Lisa Zahara Orwig and Mikala Martínez.

Becky is middle-aged, stuck in middle management and navigating a middling marriage. There’s nothing compelling on her horizon — until she is suddenly offered a chance at a new life.

Chavez, who serves on Taos Onstage’s board of directors, told Tempo that she fell in love with the play during the board’s selection readings.

She said, “It is relevant, funny and heartwarming. I felt an affinity with the character of Becky and decided to champion the play and to audition for the part.”

Chavez described Becky as living a dull existence when the play begins: The spark has gone out of her 27-year marriage, and she is plodding along working and keeping house for her husband and college-age son.

Of the play’s plot, Chavez said, “One night, while toiling away at the car dealership where she works, a very rich widower comes in, begging her to help him, as he needs to buy gifts in the form of cars for his employees. He is taken by her and believes she is also widowed. Becky is flattered by the attention, telling the audience, ‘I failed to tell this kind gentleman that my husband is not currently dead.’ So begins the comedy of errors and mistaken identity that rolls on to a surprise ending.

“The play and characters are endearing and the plot is exciting, with hilarious twists, as well as some soulful themes on life, death, loneliness, family and love. Valerio is a great director and has been working us hard to make sure we are real in our depictions of the characters.”

Valerio, like Chavez, felt an immediate affinity for the play. “I believe that all of us can identify with a powerful, hardworking, beautiful woman who is confused about what to do with her life and gets swept up on a journey that she doesn’t fully understand, without the ability to foresee the outcome. It’s been a wonderful experience because the cast and crew are so talented and supportive. I am looking forward to seeing and hearing people laugh a lot, identifying with and cheering on the characters, as well as watching how they spontaneously react during delightfully unexpected moments in the play.”

Jackson plays Walter Flood, the millionaire who comes to tempt Becky. “Of all the productions I’ve been involved with, I think ‘Becky’s New Car’ is one of the most enjoyable because it’s so funny. I love to make people laugh, and this show has people laughing a lot. Not only is the play funny, but it’s also touching and endearing,” he said.

Walter’s daughter, Kenni, is played by Martínez. “I just love this play,” she said. “It’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s honest. Playing the part of Kenni has been a fun challenge and the support I’ve received from the rest of the cast, Cindy and all the women behind the scenes at Taos Onstage has been so incredible. I am honored to perform with such incredible talent.”

McMurray plays the character of Steve Singletary, Becky’s co-worker. “The character of Steve has fit in surprisingly well with many of my own personal traits and quirks. He’s uncertain of himself around women, but he is confident of his capability as a car salesman. He gets things done, but he often rubs Becky the wrong way and in one scene even steps on her toes socially at the office. As I get further into the role each day, I find that Steve and I share a common thread of loss and the struggle to reconcile our losses with the real-world workplace. Steve is at his funniest when he doesn’t mean to be.”

Orwig’s character is Walter’s neighbor, Ginger. Orwig said, “She seems glamorous and shallow, but she is quite complex, struggling with how to proceed with her life after losing her inheritance. She is smart, sexy, charming and engaging. At first glance, ‘Becky’s New Car’ seems like a simple comedy, but it is really a very complex web of relationships, deceptions and entanglements that provides a nonstop laugh for the audience.”

“The world and our beautiful country are fraught with controversy and divisions,” said Valerio. “But when we come together and channel our considerable energies through the performing arts, we join each other in our humanity, humor and joy. Through the arts, we experience the delights of working in unison and transcend what is negative while embracing and illuminating what is positive in ourselves and the world. Grateful and still laughing.”

Performances continue Friday through Saturday (Sept. 8-9) at 7:30 p.m. with a Sunday matinée (Sept. 10) at 2 p.m. The same schedule repeats Sept. 14-17. Tickets are $15. Advance ticket may be purchased at taosonstage.com or by calling (575) 224-4587.

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