NEW PORT RICHEY — The new Richey Suncoast Theatre II, named the Charlie and Marie Skelton Cabaret, will open its first black box production Nov. 11, the Pulitzer Prize-, Tony Award- and Drama Desk Award-winning drama Proof.
Except it won't be in the actual Skelton Cabaret space on Main Street. Instead, the drama will be performed on the stage at Richey Suncoast on Grand Boulevard, with the audience also on stage, seated in regular chairs and bar stool-height chairs and the play on a slightly raised platform, in true black box theater tradition.
"We ran into some circumstances beyond our control," in regard to getting the new venue ready for a show, said Marie Skelton, executive director of both venues.
That means the new venue won't be able to open as planned, but the show will go on. Patrons can buy tickets at the box office or by phone, then either climb the stairs to the stage or go around to the stage door entrance on the north side of the building and enter the theater at stage height.
The goal of Skelton Cabaret is to present shows suitable for adults, be they dramas, comedies or specialty shows. The theater's inaugural show is a serious drama in two acts with four players. It is presented in both real time and flashback, which calls for the audience to pay close attention.
In Proof, 25-year-old Catherine (Marie-Claude Tremblay) has given up a promising career in advanced mathematics to care for her famous, genius father, Robert (Dennis Duggan, Creative Loafing's 2013 Best Actor), a former university math professor who is growing more delusional by the day. Catherine knows she is as brilliant as her father, but fears she also has his mental problems.
Meanwhile, Catherine's older sister, Claire (Kaela Koch, Elizabeth in Young Frankenstein), has gone to New York for a fulfilling career and romance, but has helped support her sister and father financially, too.
After Robert dies, one of his most promising graduate students, Hal (Adam Sieber, Croupier in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), shows up to go through Robert's papers to see if there is something in there of value. Catherine is suspicious and demands to take a look at the notebooks as Hal starts to leave with them. She grows furious when a notebook drops out of Hal's jacket, thinking he is stealing her father's work in order to take credit for anything of value.
The next day, Claire shows up, giddy with news about her pending marriage and urging Catherine to come back to New York with her. But what are Claire's real intentions? To help Catherine develop a career? To put her into an institution and get her out of the way? To sell the family home to the university for monetary gain?
The situation darkens when Hal bounds onto the scene, saying that one of the notebooks he found contains a mathematical proof that will revolutionize the understanding of primary numbers. The questions become twofold: Is the proof valid? And, more perplexing, who can prove who actually wrote the proof? Robert? Catherine? Someone else? Thus, the double meaning of the play's title.
Playwright David Auburn's Proof opened on Broadway in May 2000 and played for 917 performances. It was made into a movie in 2005, starring Gwyneth Paltrow as Catherine, Anthony Hopkins as Robert, Jake Gyllenhaal as Hal and Hope Davis as Claire.
Tremblay is an actor/playwright who recently moved from Quebec City, Canada, via New Jersey, where her first play, Thank You Notes, won "audience favorite" at the Smiling Rhino Theatre in Pompton Lakes, N. J. She recently moved to Tampa with her husband and two children and is becoming active in Tampa Bay theater circles. While in Canada, she performed in Angels in America, Othello, Lion in the Streets and A Midsummer Night's Dream.