IT IS MAGIC at Catastrophic Set to Create Its Own Brand of the Eerie

In rehearsal for It Is Magic by Mickle Maher at Catastrophic Photo by Bryan Kaplún
In rehearsal for “It Is Magic” by Mickle Maher at Catastrophic Photo by Bryan Kapún

It is difficult to keep a straight face upon learning that the plot of It Is Magic begins with two of the main characters auditioning an actor in the basement of a community theater for “the role of the Wolf in an adult adaptation of The Three Little Pigs.”

Knowing it is a Mickle Maher play being produced by Houston’s Catastrophic Theatre helps though. From there the one-act delves into the heart of community theater while upstairs, opening night of “the Scottish play” makes everything all the more mystical and confusing. In fact, Tim shows up for his audition dressed in a kilt.

Add in the arrival of Liz, a woman of mystery and you’ve got a recipe for the special brand of avant-garde that the playwright (There is a Happiness That Morning Is, The Hunchback Variations) is known for.

Tamarie Cooper, co-artistic director of Catastrophic, is in the case of It Is Magic which premiered in Chicago at Maher’s theater company, Theater Oobleck, and which Catastrophic was about to do when the pandemic hit. “It just sort of got pushed to the side. We always meant to come back to it.”

Cooper plays Deb, who is by herself the entire marketing department for the struggling theater. as well as a playwright. This is also the first play she is trying to produce and cast. “My character is the one who just fully, truly believes in the magic of theater. The cast also includes Amy Bruce (Sandy), Dillon Dewitt (the young actor auditioning for the Wolf), Luis Galindo )the community theater’s artistic director) and Courtney Lomelo (Liz). Jeff Miller is directing.

Sandy (Bruce) is my sister. She also has been working at this community theater for quite some time. It’s not quite clear what she does but as is the case often with community theaters you’ll find people who are just very deeply invested and always around.”

“This play has been very well well received and widely popular at the theaters in Chicago and in Austin. it’s very funny and I feel like it may be even more accessible than some of his other plays. Although I’m biased here; I adore Mickle’s writing.”

“There’s amazing satire about theater about the hierarchy in the theater, jokes that if you’re an actor or if you’ve ever worked in theater or you’re a theater lover will definitely land from the three pointer.

“But you don’t have to have that connection,” she said. “One thing I always appreciate about Mickle’s plays is that there are multiple doors of entry. If you’ve ever been up for a job or have ever gone on a date wanting to start a new relationship with someone. If you’ve even been in a situation where you want something so desperately and someone else has the power of no.— then this play is pretty relatable ”

While Cooper said she has never worked in community theater, “almost everyone that I work with certainly had experiences. That’s often how you first start practicing your craft. And there’s a very murky line on what is community theater, what is professional theater.” At the same time, she said, “I don’t feel that this play is a dig at community theater. I think you find more in community theater and mid-size theater more of the struggle more of there’s so much to make the show happen. Where people are wearing so many hats.”

“I will say that there is the magic of theater and then there’s is literal magic. This play does circle through both of those. There are definitely some villainess factors, she said, laughing.

Cooper calls this a comedy while acknowledging Maher’s unique approach to writing plays .”You know it’s Mickle, it’s a very singular voice, it’s his words. He’s a wordsmith. It’s never going to be a just a straightforward [play.] There’s definitely going to be something a little strange and unexpected. And there is pathos as well.”

But overall, she said, “People will definitely find this very, very funny.”

Performances are scheduled for February 9 through March 2 at 7:30 p.m. and Monday February 26; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays at the MATCH, 3400 Main. Due to mature subject matter, no one under the age of 12 will be admitted. For more information, call 713-521-4533or visit Pay What You Can.