You’d expect a play set in the mysterious world of the Mafia to contain its fair share of surprises. It is therefore fitting that although the script of “Breaking Legs” is not exactly a dark secret, it has been a nugget director Carolanne Steinebach has been holding closely for 20 years, waiting for the right time to bring it to a Methow Valley stage.
“Breaking Legs,” by Tom Dulack — which opens Friday (Jan. 10) at The Merc Playhouse in Twisp — revolves around a Mafia family with a beautiful unmarried daughter and a playwright seeking funding for a new production. When the daughter falls in love with the playwright, he must decide whether or not the family is making him proverbial offers he can’t refuse. It’s a madcap comedy that enjoyed runs both on and off-Broadway in the 1990s.
“I arrived in the Methow Valley with this script in my fist,” says Steinebach, who first started spending time in the valley in the 1970s and eventually settled here in 1998. At the time, Steinebach offered the script to the Methow Valley Theatre but, she says, “they didn’t think it reflected community values.” True, “Breaking Legs” features “murder and menace,” as well as a hefty dose of profanity. But Steinebach was attracted to the script’s humorous storyline and knew that it would play well with audiences.
More than two decades later, Steinebach is finally getting her chance, at the theater that Steinebach and her late husband, Egon, founded in 1999. Steinebach is delighted, with the play itself — which she calls “appealing and appalling” — and with the cast she hand-picked to perform it.
Of the six local actors — Alan Fahnestock, Sandy Liman, Brent Nourse, Bill Pope, Phil Quevillon and Missi Smith (who is also The Merc’s executive director) — Steinebach says, “We have some veterans and some who are new to the stage.” Steinebach notes that one actor — Nourse — had even been cast in “Breaking Legs” in college, but had to drop out in order to play in championship matches with his rugby team. “Now he finally gets to do the play,” Steinebach says.
Antidote to ‘blahs’
With the exception of a multi-year hiatus, Steinebach has remained active in Merc productions as an actor, director and as a member of the programming committee, which selects the scripts for each presenting season. “I gave my entire collection of scripts to The Merc about 10 years ago,” Steinebach says, “so anyone could have chosen this play during those years.” But Steinebach is glad that she is the one bringing it to the stage. “It’s the perfect antidote to the January blahs,” she says. “It’s very funny — it will get you laughing.”
Even more satisfying for Steinebach is seeing how The Merc Playhouse — her baby — has grown and evolved. She finds it rewarding to still be so intimately involved with the community theater program that she and Egon nurtured from its infancy. “I have such a sense of pride about it,” Steinebach says. “It’s really quite gratifying.”
“Breaking Legs” is not rated, however, parental discretion is advised for children. There is no overt sexual action onstage, but there is one scene that Steinebach refers to as “highly suggestive,” and there is adult language, including profanity.
Shows are at 7 p.m. on Jan. 10, Jan. 11, Jan. 16, Jan. 17 and Jan. 18. Matinee performances are on Jan. 12 and Jan. 19 at 2 p.m. Doors open 30 minutes before showtime.
Tickets are $18 for adult general admission, $20 for adult reserved seats and $7 for youth reserved seats if purchased online. Tickets at the door are $20 for adults and $5 for youth. Admission to the Jan. 16 performance is by donation.
For information and to purchase tickets online, visit mercplayhouse.org, or call 997-7529.