On Stage

The Shoe Play

A sole-searching story

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

There were a few moments during last Friday’s showing of Quality: The Shoe Play when the fourth wall got a bit wobbly.

It wasn’t a big surprise. Since Bellingham TheatreWorks is staging the play about two women fighting a sole-searching battle for supremacy at a high-end shoe store at an actual shoe store, the conceptual barrier between the fictional work and its viewers was already thinner than one would expect at a night at the theater.

But rather than detract from the performance, the short periods of reality—an ambulance roaring by Fairhaven’s 12th Street Shoes, the actresses brushing within centimeters of audience members sitting in the front row, and a friendly passerby stopping to hold the store’s front doors open for one of the characters who appeared to be struggling with a large box—only added to the appeal.

In fact, by the time Pippa (Western Washington University senior Jacki Campbell) smiled and said “thank you” to the helpful pedestrian who opened the door for her as she entered the “stage” from the sidewalk, I was already hooked. The fact that she didn’t miss a beat when dealing with exterior forces kept me on the line.

Following a script by Vancouver-based playwright Elaine Avila with direction by WWU grad Kayla Adams, the story focuses on what happens after Pippa uses her smarts to get hired at a famous designer’s shoe store by the savvy, sexy manager, Roxanne (Brie Turoff Mueller, a recent New York City transplant).

Thanks to Pippa’s ability to both channel the personalities of shoes and also follow Roxanne’s lead—at least when it comes to how to deal with the fussy customers who purchase the expensive footwear—she’s soon the leading saleswoman.

But it turns out that beneath her mild-mannered exterior, Pippa is more ambitious than she lets on. While Roxanne is centered on keeping the brand classic and out-of-reach to all but those with financial fortitude, Pippa reaches out to the designer to suggest lower-cost alternatives. When her ideas are implemented, the two strong women come to an impasse.

Because it’s a two-person play, the audience never sees the customers they’re catering to. Instead, the duo channels the women through “lessons” Roxanne imparts to Pippa, where they both take on the personalities of everyone from a filthy-rich actress to an overweight socialite and a woman who has saved up for a year to be able to purchase a pair of sought-after heels.

Among the hilarity of what I’m going to call a “shoe-gasm” and lighter moments that see the two accomplished actresses banter with each other like sparring partners, Quality: The Shoe Play also features deeper issues such as jealousy and self-worth—relating both to the customers and its employees.

Once Pippa sees that Roxanne has spent years passing on her ideas on to the designer—“I’m his muse!” Roxanne argues—she makes it clear that she won’t let that happen to her.

I could tell that resonated with other members of the audience, as well. There’s a telling moment when Roxanne is defending herself to Pippa when she declares that she is happy being the inspiration for such a great man.

“Inspire yourself,” the woman behind me muttered.

You’ll have to purchase a ticket to the play to find out if that’s what ultimately happens, but suffice it to say that for both Pippa and Roxanne, the outcome—and the play itself—is about a whole lot more than shoes.

Smoking Crow
More On Stage...
Queen Quest
Who will wear the crown?

Queen Elizabeth didn’t have to compete with Princess Margaret to become the Head of the British Commonwealth, but if she had needed to go up against her younger sibling, it’s likely the rivalry for the crown wouldn’t have included talent segments based on the sisters’ singing, dancing and…

more »
Friends Forever
When Patsy met Louise

When it comes to Always…Patsy Cline, the numbers are eye-opening.

For example, the play is celebrating its 30th year in production, and when performer and producer Ria Peth Vanderpool and actress Kelly Visten reprise their respective roles as iconic country musician Patsy Cline and her…

more »
Projections
Bellingham Rep’s interdisciplinary insights

It’s not often audience members are issued homework assignments in advance of attending a show, but in the case of Bellingham Repertory Dance’s “Projections” performances April 13-15 at Western Washington University’s Western Gallery, it will be possible to learn a thing or two by perusing…

more »
Events
Today
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

10:00am|Skagit Valley

Free Appliance Pick-up

10:00am|Whatcom County

Hir

7:30pm|DUG Theater

9 to 5, the Musical

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Opera Studio Performances

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center

Lynden Book Sale

10:00am|Lynden Library

Bellingham Beer Week

10:00am|Throughout Bellingham

Chanticleer Authors Conference

12:00pm|Hotel Bellwether

Always...Patsy Cline

7:00pm|Conway Muse

North Cascades Concert Band

7:30pm|Bellingham, Arlington, Anacortes

Legends and Brawls

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|Ferndale Senior Center

VFW Breakfast

8:00am|VFW Hall

Plant Society Field Trip

8:30am|Veder Mountain

Fun with the Fuzz

9:00am|Bellingham Police Department

3 Cs Plant Sale

9:00am|3 Cs Farms

Planting Day

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Earth Day Planting

9:00am|NSEA Nursery

Ferndale City Wide Cleanup

9:00am|Downtown Ferndale

Bellingham Bay Bocce Tournament

9:30am|Bellingham Sportsplex

FutureFest

9:30am|Port Transit Shed Event Center

Community Art Museum Day

10:00am|Whatcom Museum

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Earth Day Celebration

10:00am|Edgewater Park

Voting, the Heart of Democracy

10:00am|Bellingham Public Library

Ponds and Water Features

10:00am|Blaine Library

Arch of Healing Installation Ceremony

10:30am| Bellingham City Hall

Healthy Kids Day

2:00pm|Bellingham YMCA

Veggie Gardening 101

2:00pm|South Whatcom Library

Poetry Circle

3:00pm|Deming Library

Roller Betties Bout

5:00pm|Whatcom Community College

Winterhouse

6:00pm|Village Books

Rainbow Alliance Drag Show

7:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Blackthorn Band

7:00pm|Littlefield Celtic Center

Who will wear the crown?

7:00pm

Speakeasy 21

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Songs from the Universe

7:30pm|Firehouse Performing Arts Center

Nepal Trek Talk

7:30pm|Lummi Island Library

Brigid Collins Benefit Concert

8:00pm|Walton Theatre

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Tomorrow
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

10:00am|Skagit Valley

Free Appliance Pick-up

10:00am|Whatcom County

Opera Studio Performances

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center

9 to 5, the Musical

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Bellingham Beer Week

10:00am|Throughout Bellingham

Lynden Book Sale

10:00am|Lynden Library

Chanticleer Authors Conference

12:00pm|Hotel Bellwether

North Cascades Concert Band

7:30pm|Bellingham, Arlington, Anacortes

3 Cs Plant Sale

9:00am|3 Cs Farms

FutureFest

9:30am|Port Transit Shed Event Center

Dirty Dan Harris Festival

10:00am|Fairhaven Village Green

Earth Day Work Party

11:00am|Viva Farms

Pottery Demos

12:00pm|Good Earth Pottery

Choo Choo Soul

1:00pm|McIntyre Hall

Utopia Earth Day

1:00pm|Utopian Conservation Area

Chuckanut Chili Cook-off

1:30pm|Fairhaven Village Green

Audubon at the Museum

1:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Rambling Unicorn

3:00pm|Everson Library

Seeing Pink

4:00pm|Ciao Thyme Commons

Crowder

7:00pm|Performing Arts Center Mainstage

Pink Martini

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Take Me to Church

8:00pm|Rumors Cabaret

Village Books Trove Web
Monday
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

10:00am|Skagit Valley

Free Appliance Pick-up

10:00am|Whatcom County

Bellingham Beer Week

10:00am|Throughout Bellingham

The Lewis & Clark Expedition

10:00am|Mount Baker Theatre

Dig Into Spring

6:00pm|Mount Vernon City Library

Camp Cooking Basics

6:00pm|REI

Cuban Salsa

6:00pm|Bell Tower Studios

Classic Charcuterie

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Wild Halibut

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

The Price is Right Live

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

see our complete calendar »

Village Books Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Trove Web