‘Bad Dates’ in Sonoma

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Making an appointment with ‘Bad Dates’

Making an appointment with ‘Bad Dates’

What is it? Theresa Rebeck’s hilarious one-woman-show, starring Jennifer King, directed by Michael Ross.

When is it? Five days only, Wednesday, Oct. 26 to Sunday, Oct. 30.

Show times? Wednesday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.

Where is it? Sonoma Community Center, 276 E. Napa St.

How much? $15 to $40

How do I get tickets? Call the box office at 1-866-710-8942

It’s a fact of single life. Some dates just turn out bad.

Fortunately, what might seem painful and awkward while it’s happening, often turns out to be hilarious later on, when viewed through the lens of distance and time, or when shared with friends over a glass of wine or cup of coffee.

That, more or less, is the inspiration for Theresa Rebeck’s 2003 one-woman-play “Bad Dates,” which will be presented for five performances, Oct. 26 to 30, by Sonoma Arts Live. Directed by Michael Ross, the tour-de-force comedy will be performed by actress-director-teacher Jennifer King, who won acclaim in the part earlier this year at Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater.

“‘Bad Dates” sold out every performance in Petaluma,” says Jaime Love, executive artistic director of Sonoma Arts Live. “We are so lucky to have Jennifer reprising the role, because her schedule is so incredibly busy, so I’m thrilled that she’ll be sharing this play with us for these five performances.”

Love is not exaggerating about King’s busy schedule.

In addition to serving as a professor of theater arts at Napa Valley College, where she is artistic director of Napa Valley Conservatory Theater, she directs internationally, having worked over the last three years in Poland, Germany, France and the UK.

In the Bay Area, she has directed in Berkeley, San Francisco, Orinda, San Francisco and Sebastopol, where she served as executive and artistic director of the Sonoma County Repertory Theater for several years. Her work often carries a social or political message, as evidenced by her Napa productions of such shows as “The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later” and “The People’s Temple.”

In the school’s currently running production of “Disney’s The Little Mermaid,” she’s put a decidedly environmental spin on the bubbly musical, turning Ursula the Sea Witch into a toxic spill, and working in conspicuous touches of oceanic pollution between the songs and dances.

With so much teaching, traveling and directing filling her datebook, King rarely takes acting roles these days, though she says she couldn’t resist the part of Haley, the messy, chatty, restaurant-running heroine of “Bad Dates.”

A single mother who has not dated in a decade, Haley changes in and out of numerous outfits – and dozens of pairs of shoes – as she relates her tentative misadventures stepping back into the dating pool in New York City.

“Originally,” King says, “Cinnabar asked me to direct it. But when I read the play, I called them up and said, ‘If I directed another actress in this, I’d just try to get them to perform it the way I would, because I totally get this character. So maybe I should just play her myself instead of directing it.’”

Molly Noble directed instead, and the show immediately built strong word-of-mouth and played to packed houses.

Though the show drew stellar notices from critics for King’s performance, it was the script’s sneaky way of making audiences care about Haley’s open-hearted search for love that makes the show much more than just a woman telling stories about dates who won’t stop talking about their colons.

“I think a lot of people, women and men, can identify with Haley,” King says. “I know I do. Unlike her, I’m not a slob, and I don’t have teenage kids, but I know what it feels like to be a professional woman taking a chance in the world. I know what heartbreak feels like. So, like a lot of people who’ve already come to see ‘Bad Dates,’ and will now get to see this new production, I’ve definitely fallen in love with Haley.”

Adds King, “I really can’t wait to step into her shoes again. Literally.”

Email David at david.templeton@sonomanews.com.

Making an appointment with ‘Bad Dates’

Making an appointment with ‘Bad Dates’

What is it? Theresa Rebeck’s hilarious one-woman-show, starring Jennifer King, directed by Michael Ross.

When is it? Five days only, Wednesday, Oct. 26 to Sunday, Oct. 30.

Show times? Wednesday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.

Where is it? Sonoma Community Center, 276 E. Napa St.

How much? $15 to $40

How do I get tickets? Call the box office at 1-866-710-8942

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