by Nancy Holley
Special KRL coupon code at the end of this article.
Keith Lindersmith brings a bit of the exotic to the Ice House through his role as Alex Moore in Jonathan Tolin’s Buyer & Cellar, which opens Friday, November 8.
That Buyer & Cellar is a one-actor show is not unique to the Visalia Players as over the years they have presented several one-woman shows including Rose, Shirley Valentine, and The Amish Project. However, it is the first one-man show, which Lindersmith executes with aplomb.
What makes Buyer & Cellar distinctive is its unusual root in reality. The play is based on an out-of-work actor who is hired to work in Barbara Streisand’s underground museum (for lack of a better word). It is the museum that is real. As described in her coffee-table book My Passion for Design, Streisand has created, in the basement of the barn on her lavish estate, a street of shops built in eighteenth century style to house her collection of eighteenth century dolls, clothes, and other antiques.
The genius of Tolin’s fantasy is displayed in the interweaving of the characters, six in all, ably portrayed by Lindersmith. A major portion of the dialogue is between Moore and Streisand when she comes to buy from her shops. When asked about portraying Streisand, Lindersmith commented, “Fortunately, it [the play] specifically states that I not try to do an impersonation of her, because that would be a total calamity. So, I am working on giving an essence of her personality as I see it.”
Acting in a one-person show can be daunting. As Lindersmith noted, “not having anyone else to play off of is very challenging. How do I make it interesting and not put the audience to sleep?” Nevertheless, he has succeeded in giving each character a distinct personality, and he flows from one to the other with ease.
Tolin has imbued his script with delightful humor. As a New York Times reviewer commented, “Its lone performer announces that the ‘premise is preposterous.’ The story is fictional, he tells us. ‘You know that, right?’ I did, and yet I still wasn’t prepared for one thing – how very funny this comedy would be.”
A reviewer for Theatre Colorado noted, “Buyer & Cellar is not just a comedy. It also works as a social commentary, exploring the gap between the wealthy and those who can barely scrape by. It reminds us that loneliness isn’t cured by success. And it wraps those lessons up in a charming and extremely funny premise. One doesn’t usually expect a comedy to explore our values, but Buyer & Cellar is both profound and profoundly funny at once.”
Director Donny Graham is extremely fond of the play and proud of the production. He decided to produce the show in the Ice House lobby in cabaret style to allow the audience to become a part of the story. He created separate playing areas so that everyone has the opportunity to relate to the characters. Lindersmith remarked, “Doing scenes among the audience was a new experience for me, and it took a while for me to get comfortable with it.”
When asked to sum up his feelings about the play, Lindersmith observed, “I am very excited about doing this production. Having been involved with the Visalia Players for almost fifty years, it is really very special to get this opportunity. I think everyone will have a good time watching this play. It has a lot of humor and references that will bring back memories for many of our patrons.”
Buyer & Cellar opens at the Ice House Theatre at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, November 8, 2019 and runs for three weekends with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on 11/8, 11/9, 11/15, 11/16, 11/22, and 11/23, and matinees at 2 p.m. on 11/10, 11/17, and 11/24.
For more information about the Visalia Community Players and to purchase tickets, check out their website and KRL’s article about VCP. Tickets may also be purchased by calling 734-3900. For details about local arts groups in Tulare County, visit the Visalia Arts Consortium website.
Check out even more local theatre reviews & articles in our Arts & Entertainment section!
To purchase two tickets for the price of one, enter KRLBAC in the Have a code? box on the Buy/Redeem Tickets Reservation page via the Players website.
If you love local theatre, be sure to check out our new Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. You can check the podcast out on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Play, and also on podbean.