James Ridge alone “Underneath the Lintel” at MCT

James Ridge, of American Players Theatre fame, returns to Milwaukee Chamber Theatre in a one-man show.

By - Feb 21st, 2013 02:25 pm
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James Ridge

James Ridge, a 16-year veteran of American Players Theatre of Spring Green, will play The Librarian, the one and only role in the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s Underneath the Lintel, by Glen Berger. MCT artistic director C. Michael Wright is directing Ridge.

Lintel is Ridge’s third one-man show in Milwaukee under Wright’s direction. Their collaboration dates to the 2000 U.S. premiere of  A Night in November, by Marie Jones, at Next Act Theatre. That production opened in Milwaukee and moved on to Madison and on to Florida. In 2006, MCT commissioned Jim Devita  to write Dickens in America, in which Ridge played the English author.

When in rehearsal, Ridge said Wright “keeps digging at the truth” and uncovers “what the playwright really had in mind.” That is why Ridge “learned to trust Michael from early on.” A one-man show is a challenge in itself because there are no others to connect with on stage, but the “audience is your scene partner,” said Ridge. What Ridge battles with in a show like this: “It’s just me, but the focus isn’t on me, it’s on the story. Ultimately, part of my job as an actor is to uncover things that The Librarian and I have in common.”

This mysterious character, whose name is never revealed,  identifies with his occupation. Knowledge surrounds him; any piece of information is at his fingertips. The Librarian fascinates Ridge, who envies the character’s skills and intelligence.

The play takes place in a rented auditorium. The Librarian commences a lecture, in which he will present his findings concerning the anonymous return of a Baedecker Travel Guide that is 113 years overdue. He wants to share the evidence that he has discovered in a multimedia presentation involving musical clues, physical evidence, whiteboards and more. The normally quiet Librarian puts on a show.

Underneath the Lintel runs through March 17 at the Broadway Theatre Center. For tickets and a performance schedule, visit the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre website or call the Broadway Theatre Center box office, (414) 291-7800. Tickets and times information can be found at www.milwaukeechambertheatre.com.

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