published Friday, February 10th, 2012

Dark comedy 'Anton in Show Business' takes UTC stage


What: "Anton in Show Business."

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and Feb. 17, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18.

Where: UTC Fine Arts Center, Dorothy Hackett Ward Theatre.

Admission: $12 adults, students/seniors $10.

Phone: 425-4269.


Note: Suggested for audiences 14 and older due to some strong language.

What price show business?

"Anton in Show Business," a comedy that opens Tuesday in the Dorothy Hackett Ward Theatre at the UTC Fine Arts Center, focuses on three women seeking their breakout role in San Antonio, Texas, in the Anton Chekhov play "Three Sisters."

With echoes of the Chekhov work, the play is, nevertheless, a backstage comedy that skewers everything about theater.

"It has the feeling of a dark comedy or a black comedy," said director Patrick Sweetman.

He said while it has the sometimes "insularity of theater people" and the inside jokes theater people will get, it's also "a very charming, fast-moving story." And, he said, it also can be very sad.

The three actresses are Casey, who's had 200 roles in New York City but none salaried; Lisabette, a naive former teacher from Texas; and Holly, a successful television name who's been convinced the legitimate theater is her ticket to a major movie role.

The other four women in the cast play roles of various genders. The group gives the show an ensemble-comedy feel, Sweetman said.

Sweetman said "Anton in Show Business" has even more of a student touch than most University of Tennessee at Chattanooga plays, as student Jessica Thomas helped assistant professor Gaye Jeffers with the set, and student Rebecca Owens did major work on the costumes.

Those elements, plus the six UTC students who move sets almost as if they are cast members, give the comedy a feel "like a sketch -- fast-moving and fluid."

The play was written by Jane Martin -- rumored to be the pen name of retired Actors Theatre of Louisville artistic director Jon Jory -- shortly before 2000 but has been updated to be contemporary.

The Tuesday through Saturday performance schedule is new for the spring show.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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