Kalispell Theater Group Eyes Office Comedy for Next Performance

The group, like many performers, has found opportunities limited for much of the pandemic.

By Mike Kordenbrock
From left, Tony Nelson, John Goroski, Larry Lefcourt and Amy Galt rehearse a scene from “Cockeyed” at the Red Lion Hotel in Kalispell on March 22, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Kalispell’s Gypsy Theatre Guild is preparing for six performances of “Cockeyed,” a comedy by William Missouri Downs in which a man seeking the love of his coworker discovers that part of the problem is she can’t actually see him at all.

Director JeAnna Wisher described it as a story that looks at status in society, and that the invisibility of lowly Phil in the eyes of Sophia leads to a situational comedy that should have audience members laughing.

 “It’s just a night of relaxation and entertainment. It’s not like something heavy that you have to try and draw some meaning from,” Wisher said. Promotional posters showing a pair of long eyelashes and red lips surrounding the play’s title describe it as a “clever romantic comedy.”

Still, the play does go in some surreal, strange directions that provide a commentary on status in society. Phil is at odds with his wealthy boss, who is also trying to win over Sophia.

It kind of addresses in society how people are invisible to other people depending on their importance to them,” Wisher said.

In early 2020 the theater group put on a performance of “All Bark, No Bite,” before meeting the same quiet pandemic destiny of many other performing groups. The group did do a radio show of “A Christmas Carol” in December 2021, but next month’s performance will truly be its return to the stage.

Tony Nelson hides under a table as Amy Galt makes tea above him in a rehearsal of a scene from “Cockeyed” at the Red Lion Hotel in Kalispell on March 22, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

In the play are Amy Galt and Tony Nelson from Kalispell, and John Goroski and Larry Lefcourt from Bigfork.

The group is known to take on lesser-known plays because it doesn’t have the resources for the royalty fees that might be needed.

Wisher said she understands that some people like to see performances they might recognize or be familiar with, but that the theater guild tries to give new playwrights a chance to get their shows produced. In this case though, she said Downs isn’t a completely new or unknown name, but is instead a seasoned playwright with a wide body of work. He’s worked as a screenwriter and a freelance writer, including for “Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” Wisher also noted that Downs has written a college textbook on acting.  

The group doesn’t have a set venue for each performance, but instead picks a venue based on the play. In this case, Wisher said that the community center is a large enough venue that people with COVID-19 concerns should be able to be spaced out comfortably. One of the places the group has used more consistently for performances is the Conrad Mansion, which has hosted past performances by the group of “A Christmas Carol.”

The play will be performed at the Gateway Community Center at 1312 North Meridian Road in Kalispell. Tickets are $15 for children and seniors and $20 for general admission. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. on April 1, April 2, April 8 and April 9. Performances begin at 2 p.m. on April 3 and April 10. People can purchase tickets at gypsytheatreguild.com or at the door.

From left, Larry Lefcourt, Tony Nelson and Amy Galt rehearse a scene from “Cockeyed” at the Red Lion Hotel in Kalispell on March 22, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

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