‘Blue Window’ shows Silver-Alford’s versatility

Sandra ClarkArts 865

“Blue Window” closed over the weekend with an added Sunday performance at UT’s Lab Theatre. Seems the word spread across campus about this quirky play by Craig Lucas.

It was directed by theatre faculty member Terry Silver-Alford, who also wrote the music for the theme song. William Bolcom contributed the lyrics for “The Same Thing,” hauntingly performed by Gracie Belt (Emily).

Making their final bow on Saturday, the cast directed a salute toward Silver-Alford, who most recently directed “South Pacific” at UT’s Clarence Brown Theatre.

The Lab Theatre offers students an opportunity to play leading roles. Six of seven actors in “Blue Window” were undergraduates, the exception being MFA graduate student Owen Squire Smith (Griever).

It was another Sunday evening in New York as a gathering of strangers met for a dinner party hosted by Emily Helton (Libby). Panic already was setting in when she broke a front tooth, trying to pry the lid off a tin of caviar. Hers was a comic role until the evening’s end.

Curtis Bower (Tom) had a limited role as Libby’s ex and Emily’s current boyfriend. He moved from couch to stool, picking his guitar and listening for the just-right chords. When Emily sang his song at evening’s end, he didn’t recognize it.

Luke Atchley (Norbert) works best as a Roman soldier (Titus Andronicus) or a drifter (Of Mice and Men). Here he plays a reticent sky-diving instructor. Oh, well.

And that left the meaty roles for seniors Meg Sutherland (Alice) and Lauren Winder (Boo), gay lovers in a relationship that would be lucky to survive the evening – if it did. Sutherland dominates the stage, both in this play and in “Top Girls” back in March. She is perfectly cast as the egocentric Alice, who talks about herself incessantly and corrects Boo on topics ranging from language to science. Boo fights back, but then confesses that she just hates to hear people complaining about their problems. She’s a psychologist. “But it’s the job you chose,” said Alice.

Empathy is not Alice’s forte, just as connectivity is alien to these New Yorkers. The play is short (90 minutes with no intermission) and the seats are better in the Lab Theatre than at the Carousel. It was good to see old friends in new roles. We’ll miss these seniors when they move on.

Next up: “A Christmas Carol,” an annual tradition with $10 tickets for ages 5-12, running Nov. 24 through Dec. 17 at Clarence Brown Theatre.

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