Not Quite Cloud Nine

Local ensemble does a credible job with A Walk in the Sky, but the legendary Wasserman will push for better

The incompatibility of amateur and professional players isn't so apparent in this production. Thanks in part to director Michael Lancy's precise guidance, the ensemble shines. Several of the theater's resident players -- particularly Jeremie J. McCubbin and Chris Eriksen as a couple of melodious mountain men -- keep pace with the trio of Equity performers (Heidi Ewart, Gene Ganssle and Michael Patrick Collins).

For all the rewriting, redesigning and recasting that have marked this show, Wasserman has yet to elevate A Walk in the Sky. The smart story is marred by a heroine (movingly portrayed and beautifully sung here by Ewart) who isn't fully formed. In this version, she's given little to do in Act One, and is later transformed from a curmudgeon into a softhearted saint in the time it takes her to sing a single ballad.

Wasserman knows the show needs some tweaking. "I plan to take a hard look at it and do some more revising," he says. "Then it will have to be recast with all professional actors. These roles were done nicely by these people, but the characters I've written demand an all-professional cast, and I'll have to take the play somewhere where I can do that."

From left, Jeremie J. McCubbin as Mace, Gene Ganssle as Jeb and Chris Eriksen as Brock in A Walk in the Sky.
From left, Jeremie J. McCubbin as Mace, Gene Ganssle as Jeb and Chris Eriksen as Brock in A Walk in the Sky.

Details

Continues through Sunday, October 1.
Call 480-990-7405
Stagebrush Theatre, 7020 East Second Street in Scottsdale

Meanwhile, across town, Phoenix Theatre is preparing to kick off its new season with Man of La Mancha, a production in which Wasserman has had a hand. The company plans to honor Wasserman with a special citation at their 80th anniversary celebration this week, and is also organizing an October celebration of his work.

Dale Wasserman, a habitual no-show at awards ceremonies, plans to attend that one. "I really will show up for this one," he says. "I told them I would, so I guess I better."

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