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The cast and crew of Becky’s New Car. Photo credit Jim Carroll.

Suzanne Kelman is amazing.  She is one of those women I keep my eye on because secretly I want to be her when I grow up.  She brings this amazingness to the stage in Whidbey Island Center for the Arts production of Becky’s New Car, directed by Deana Duncan, which opened this Friday.

You may have heard the term “triple threat” associated with a certain actor or actress.  This phrase refers to a performer who can sing, dance and act well.  Suzanne is more of a quintuple threat and beyond, because she is also a screenwriter, choreographer–her list of artistic accomplishments is impressive and seemingly limitless.

Because of her diverse artistic background, Suzanne is able to approach the title character of Becky with a unique sense of awareness.  In this play where interaction with the audience is key, she is both ringmaster and curator of the evening.  And she is damn good it at it.  She gives us the gift of a Becky who is kind, lovable, quick-witted, hard-working, and not quite sure in which direction she would like her life to go.

In my opinion, the most enjoyable and excellent aspect of this production is the characters.  Each actor brings amazing depth and heart to his or her role.  Phil Jordan breathes life into Walter, the eccentric millionaire who any woman would consider cozying up to. Tom Harris embodies the role of Joe, the dependable husband with a dry sense of humor.  Newcomer Jeff Riggs is endearing as the perpetual free-loader son, Chris, studying for his graduate degree in psychology.  Athena Michaelides is stunning as Walter’s fashion-plate daughter, Kenni.  Eric Mullholland is hilarious as Becky’s co-worker, Steve, who is dealing with both grief and gorp.

And Patricia Duff is absolutely fabulous and stunning as Ginger, the granddaughter of a lumber barron who has recently lost most of her fortune.  It is worth the price of the ticket merely to see how well she wears and moves in her sparkling dress and high heels.

Becky’s New Car was originally commissioned by Charles Staadecker for his wife Benita’s 60th birthday in 2006.  Since its premiere at ACT Theatre in Seattle, the Staadecker’s have attended all of the opening nights of the more than two dozen productions around the country.

“People think commissioning a play is incredibly expensive,” Staadecker says. “It was a choice. You can choose to take a cruise. You can choose to buy a car. You can choose to go on a safari. You can choose to go two weeks to Paris. We took the same amount of money and choose to invest in art.”

It is well worth your while to spend a night at the theatre enjoying their investment.

Tickets are available by calling the WICA box office at 360.221.8268.  Tell them Ginger sent you.

Patricia Duff as Ginger. Photo credit Tyler Raymond.

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