'Ladies of the Alamo' to open Stephens theater season

Wednesday, October 7, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 9:30 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 7, 2009

COLUMBIA — The Stephens College Theatre Department opens its 2009-10 season at the Warehouse Theatre Wednesday night with Paul Zindel's "Ladies at the Alamo."

"It's about the dynamic of women in power, and how words can really wound," said Warehouse Theatre artistic director Becca Kravitz. "It's very, very intense but very funny."

If You Go

What: "Ladies at the Alamo"

When: Wednesday through Saturday, Oct. 7 to 10

Where: Warehouse Theatre, 104 Willis Avenue

Tickets: $6 to $8

Information: 573-876-7199 or go to

Set in the late 1970s, the play is about a community theater in Texas run by the dramatic Dede Cooper. When Dede goes out of town, her patron, Joann, decides to take over, "essentially usurping her power," said Kravitz.

"('Ladies at the Alamo') sticks with our mission of choosing plays that are by, about and for women," Kravitz said. "This wasn't written by a woman but it's about how they mesh or don't mesh."

Director Elizabeth Gjertson said the play was chosen for its strong female roles but also for its subject matter.

"It shows the brutal backstage side of theater between the director, artistic director and the head of the board," she said. The play also deals with the economic aspect of producing shows--the head of the board questions whether to give her money to a financially struggling theater.

The play has five female leads. This is unusual for the Warehouse Theatre, which typically produces shows with two or three lead actors, but Gjertson said it wasn't difficult to direct five.

"The show is just so well written; the women really complement each other," she said. "They make it easy."

The cast all uses Texan accents in order to transport the audience from Columbia to Texas, Kravitz said.

Emily Quartaro, who plays Dede, is from Houston and was able to help her fellow actors out with the dialect.

"We even called and talked to my mom," Quartaro said. "She's a larger-than-life woman with the accent and everything."

"Ladies at the Alamo" is loosely based on Nina Vance, the founder of the Alley Theatre in Houston, where Quartaro has been many times. She also said she knows all the cities that are mentioned in the play, which helped her develop Dede.

"So many of my parents' friends are old Texas theater women, so it was really easy to grab traits I knew from them and put them into Dede and make her real," Quartaro said.

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