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Las Cruces actors Steven Cousler and Jason Wyatt continue their performances in multiple roles in Toadhall Theatre’s upcoming production of “Stones in His Pockets.”
The two-act play is directed by Ken Forestal, who founded Toadhall in 2014.
Final performances are 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, March 24-25 and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 26, in the chapel theatre at First Christian Church, 1809 El Paseo Road.
Tickets are $10 general admission and $5 for students and seniors.
In the show, Cousler plays Jake Quinn and Wyatt plays Charlie Conlan and both actors portray multiple other characters, Forestal said.
Cousler was stage manager and stage crew for Blank Conversations Theatre Company’s (BCTC) recent production of “American Idiot.” His acting credits include BCTC’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” and Toadhall productions of “Van Gogh” and “Two Gentlemen of Verona.”
“When Ken first described ‘Stones in His Pockets to me, I was intimidated,” Cousler said. “The idea of playing so many characters is both exciting and challenging. I've worked with Ken on multiple productions before this and he's always had a way of getting the best out of my performances. I have had the pleasure to work with Jason several times before, but the last time we were on stage together was some time ago. I'm excited to play opposite him once again and in such a close-knit play.”
Prior to “Stones in His Pockets,” Wyatt performed in “The Wizard of Oz” and “Little Miss Sunshine” for Las Cruces Community Theatre and “The Game’s Afoot” for Doña Ana Repertory Theatre. He joined Cousler in the cast of “Two Gentlemen of Verona.”
“This is a very challenging show, both from an acting perspective as well as in terms of the themes addressed, which include mental health and substance abuse,” Wyatt said. “Not only is it a challenge to play multiple characters in quick succession but it takes a great deal of finesse and sensitivity, I think, to balance the comedic elements in the play with the heavy themes, to make sure that these themes are being given the gravity they deserve. As a mental health professional, it is important to me that art addresses themes around mental health seriously and directly but also with sensitivity and this show does just that.”
“’Stones In His Pockets’ presents an interesting challenge: The actors portray several characters of both genders and varied accents,” Forestal said. “The director must create a process that supports the actors’ challenge and assures that the audience is aware of and has an understanding of all characters and their relationship to the plot.”
The play “is an excellent theatrical work that provides a moving experience for the audience,” Forestal said.
“Stones in His Pockets,” first produced in 1999, takes place near a small town in County Kerry, Ireland that has been taken over by a Hollywood film crew, according to https://stageagent.com. Conlan and Quinn have been employed as extras on the film set and tell the story of the impact the movie has on the local community.
“Charlie claims to be escaping the aftermath of a failed business venture and has great aspirations to get his own script made into a film,” the website said. “Jake has recently returned from America and is enthralled by the beauty of the movie’s leading lady until it becomes clear that she only wants to use him to appropriate his accent. The play depicts the local excitement and enthusiasm at being part of a huge movie, but the glamour quickly fades as the reality of being an extra kicks in.
“Charlie and Jake play 13 other eccentric and eclectic characters between them, including Caroline, the American movie star who struggles to do a convincing Irish accent; Clem, the English director; and Mickey, a local extra in his 70s,” the website said.
The play’s name is directly related to what happens to local teenager Sean Harkin.
Forestal said he decided to produce and direct the play because his wife, Joan, asked him to as part of their recent 50th wedding anniversary.
In addition to “Van Gogh” and “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” Toadhall Theatre has previously presented “Pericles,” “Medea,” “Agnes of God,” “Bonhoffer” and “A Promise of Roses,” all directed by Forestal, who also wrote “A Promise of Roses.” It’s production of “Murderess,” was interrupted by Covid-19, with performances by different casts in 2020 and 2022.
Cousler and Wyatt, along with Las Cruces actors David Edwards, Ed Montes and Genno Tafoya, participated in Toadhall’s “A Gentle Madness,” a reading of works by Edgar Allan Poe last Halloween.