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Staging the right path
Shiny on the outside, failing engine on the inside sums up the relationships in “Becky’s New Car.”
Caught in a rut, Becky, played by Pamela Ziemann, is given a prime opportunity at her work in a car dealership to pull herself out of a less-than-desired life with Walter, a widowed millionaire who has taken a fancy to her, played by Rick Waites.
Does she remain faithful to her family or take a test drive?
Olympic Theatre Arts takes the wheel with a preview night Thursday, Sept. 5 and regular performances Sept. 6-22.
Written by Steven Dietz, author of OTA’s recent production “Paragon Springs,” Ziemann said Becky symbolizes all the people who have at least once felt invisible.
“So many women and men can relate because they don’t feel like they’ve been heard,” she said.
Although Becky’s life could change, it stems from a series of lies.
Through their conversations, Walter misunderstands that Becky’s husband Joe, played by Jeff Marks, is still alive.
“She finds herself lying,” Ziemann said. “She doesn’t really want to lie. She never wanted to hurt (Joe) but once it builds, it keeps going. She’s so passive that she doesn’t realize who she is until the end.”
Throughout the play are a variety of farcical characters like Steve (Peter Greene), a widower who can’t forgive himself for a hiking accident that took his wife.
Becky’s psychology-major college-student son Chris (Danny Willis) acts as a mirror for everyone telling people their issues like a textbook despite not having any real world experience. Walter’s friend Ginger (Marti McAllister Wolf), has lost an inheritance and is looking for a job for the first time.
The play also features Alaynna Little as Kenni Flood, Walter’s daughter, and direction by Loren Johnson.
Marks said all of the characters are trying to find a new life except for him.
“(Joe) is happy,” Marks said. “He likes being a roofer. He doesn’t change.”
Becky and Joe have been married 28 years, Ziemann said, but she tries to keep her relationship with Walter from him.
“She’s got a husband and a kid and she wonders is that all there is?” Ziemann said. “What else is there?”
Ziemann refers to a quote from the play — “When a woman says she needs new shoes, what she really wants is a new job. When she says she needs a new house, she wants a new husband. And when she says she wants a new car, she wants a new life.”
“I’d be surprised if people didn’t start thinking about their own lives once they left the theater,” she said.
Husband-and-wife Charlie and Benita Staadecker, who commissioned “Becky’s New Car” for the ACT in Seattle in 2008 plan to visit the show on Sept. 6-7. OTA plans to have an opening night (Sept. 6) post-show reception to meet the cast and crew and a Q&A the next night.
Charlie Staadecker envisioned the idea to commission a play as a birthday gift for his wife. They’ve traveled from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Key West, Fla., to see the play produced in 27 different cities.
“What makes it special is that we are not wealthy people but decided instead of taking a cruise, going on a European vacation or buying a new car we took the same amount of money and helped create a legacy work of art,” he said.
The Staadeckers have been sharing their idea and have inspired 20 other new plays with two making it to the stage in Portland, Ore., and San Diego, Calif.