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Stageworks’ ‘Venus in Fur’ a saucy battle of the sexes


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The first time actor Georgina McKee auditioned for a production of “Venus in Fur,” she hated the play.

“I didn’t get it. I didn’t like the character,” she says. But on subsequent readings, McKee began to see where the jokes were and what motivated the seemingly wicked lead Vanda, who manipulates her way through the audition from hell.

“I gained respect for her; she is a master manipulator,” says McKee. “I can see why she makes some of the choices she does ... it’s like that old saying ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.’ ”

McKee co-stars in the Stageworks Theatre production of “Venus in Fur,” which runs through Nov. 24. It is directed by Anna Brennan and co-stars Brendan Ragan.

Playwright David Ives’ 2011 Tony-nominated “Venus in Fur” is based on a scandalous 1870 German novella about a nobleman dominated by his lover.

Ives updated the story into a saucy, provocative battle of the sexes. Still on Broadway, “Venus in Fur” has become one of the most produced plays in the country.

Set during an audition session, it’s a play within a play. A director (Ragan) is casting his version of the novella “Venus in Furs” and has not found the right woman to play Vanda.

Then the last audition of the day shows up two hours late and seems all wrong for the part. But she soon becomes exactly like the dominatrix that is needed.

“Over the course of the play, she takes charge, and there’s a dramatic shift in gender roles,” says McKee who is relatively new to the Tampa area theater scene.

McKee is from Madison, Wis., and has appeared in numerous productions there and in Milwaukee. She made her Tampa-area debut this summer in the American Stage Theatre Company’s production of “My Name is Asher Lev.”

She says “Venus in Fur” offers new challenges. “There is wonderful dialogue and it’s fast-paced and unpredictable,” she says. “I have played powerful women but never a character like this one.”

‘VENUS IN FUR’

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Thursday, 3 p.m. Sunday, through Nov. 24

Where: Stageworks, 120 E. Kennedy Blvd. Tampa

Tickets: $26 adults, $22 seniors and $10 students, artists and military; (813) 727-2708 and www.stageworkstheatre.org

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