Tuesday, July 7, 2009

From KC Confidential.com

Edelman: Summer Camp Comes to the Crossroads


It’s summer camp time in the always hip Crossroads Arts District. Now, before you put on your khaki shorts and dig the silver-plated whistle out of your dresser, I should tell you I mean camp as in Corrie Van Ausdal’s star turn in the 40s suspense thriller “Sorry, Wrong Number.” You’ve got one more chance (next Saturday, 8:30 at the Fishtank, 1715 Wyandotte– bring a lawn chair) to enjoy Ms Ausdal– famed for her birdies panty creations–as she beats the pants off any number of more experienced actors in town when it comes to playing it “over the top.”

Corrie and Company picked the right scary campfire story for their summer outing. “Sorry, Wrong Number” was a radio suspense hit for Agnes Moorehead back in 1943. That’s before Miss Moorehead grew up (or down, as the case may be) to become Samantha’s mom or aunt– I was never sure “witch”– on “Bewitched.” That performance was so out there, I knew people who thought Endora was a guy.

If that wasn’t camp grounds enough, “Sorry. Wrong Number” earned scenery-chewer Barbara Stanwyck an Oscar nomination for the film version in 1948. Both the radio and movie scripts were penned by Lucille Fletcher, who was married to Bernard Herrmann, the great film composer of some of Alfred Hitchcock’s most heart-stopping thrillers, including those scary strings in the “Psycho” bathtub sequence. Taking camp from the sublime to the ridiculous, Loni Anderson played the role in the TV version of “Sorry.”

So Ms Van Ausdal had a big, sticky roasted marshmallow of a play to work with Monday night. And taking the notion of “two dimensional characters” to a whole new level, this “Sorry, Wrong Number” is acted out across several storefront windows at 17th and Wyandottte. The audience sits on the street. watching the proceedings through the glass window (like I said, bring a lawnchair). It’s an interesting conceit, using a storefront to evoke elegant Sutton Place on Manhattan’s East Side. And it mostly works, though I wish Corrie had had another three feet of depth to work with.

I won’t give away the plot, but you can probably guess– things don’t go well for the lady in the window. As she moves from smaller to ever smaller portal, Van Ausdal creates a sense of claustrophobia that becomes palpable. Production values– always difficult in street theater– are pretty good. It’s only thirty minutes long and the price is right–donate $5 to 15 and you’re fine.

Besides, you’re too old for the other kind of summer camp anyway. So head down to the Crossroads Saturday at 8:30 for Counselor Corrie’s little show. Afterwards, grab a table at La Bodega and have them light up one of those flaming drinks. Make that your campfire; in this economy, there should be plenty of scary stories to tell.

Mark Edelman

photo by Dale Monaghen


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