Friday, June 26, 2009

Thurs, July 2nd: Free reading, talk and Q&A with Louise Shaffer, author of the new Serendipity.

Time: Thursday, July 2, 2009 6:00 p.m.
Location: The Drama Book Shop, 250 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018
Title of Event: Author Louise Shaffer presents her novel Serendipity

Reading, talk and Q&A with Louise Shaffer, author of the new Serendipity.

Louise Shaffer brings to life three generations of Italian American women in this stunning novel of surprises, secrets, and serendipity.

A child of theatrical royalty, Carrie Manning is having a hard time getting her own act together. Thirty-seven, aimless, and having just buried a famous mother she never understood, she is desperate to uncover her family's mysterious past in the hopes that it will help her understand herself.

Carrie's search reveals the fascinating life stories of her estranged grandmother Lu, a glamorous Broadway star whose dreams came with a price; her great grandmother Mifalda, who gave up everything to come to America as a sixteen-year-old Italian bride; and her father, Bobby, the charismatic Broadway genius who wrote some of Lu’s greatest musicals and died tragically young. At the heart of Carrie's discoveries lies the reason for her mother's complicated life, and a dark secret that has been buried for thirty years.

by Shaffer, Louise
Paper. $14.00

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wed, July 1st: FREE Talk and Book Signing with Playwright CAROLE GAUNT at The Drama Book Shop

Time: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 5:00 p.m.
Location: The Drama Book Shop, 250 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018
Title of Event: Dance of the Seven Headed Mouse with Garole Gaunt

FREE Talk and Book Signing with Playwright CAROLE GAUNT
Author of Dance of the Seven Headed Mouse, a New Play Currently Running at The Beckett at Theatre Row in New York City.

Directed by Christopher McElroen for a limited engagement through July 25th with Joseph Adams, Laura Bonarrigo, Molly Ephraim and Lauren Currie Lewis.

About the Play
The fault lines are exposed when a seemingly picture-perfect Fifth Avenue family faces the harshest of realities - the death of their daughter. A father turns to work to drown his sorrow, while his wife drifts into a haze of pills and booze. When their surviving child Avril inexplicably drops out of her prestigious New England boarding school, her roommate Juliana arrives for a visit, determined to lure her back. Acting as a catalyst and witness, Juliana exposes the gaping cracks in the family's Upper East Side façade, forcing its three surviving members to engage with one another and the tragedy they share. Dance of the Seven Headed Mouse is a tale of love, loss, and acceptance from Carole Gaunt, award-winning author of the memoir, Hungry Hill.

About the Author
Carole Gaunt received the inaugural Anne Bancroft Memorial Memoir Writing award from the Stony Brook Southampton Writers Conference for Hungry Hill. Her book has been listed in the 2008 Association of American University Presses (AAUP) University Press Books Selected for Public and Secondary School Libraries and was featured on CSPAN's "Book TV" with the theme "Women with Gumption." A graduate of the Commercial Theatre Institute, she was an associate producer for the South African doo-wop musical, Kat and the Kings, which ran on Broadway for 180 performances. A former board member of the Alcoholism Council of New York, she often writes about the effects of parental addiction on the children in the family. Also, she has appeared as an actor on Lifetime Television.

Hungry Hill: A Memoir
by Gaunt, Carole O'Malley
Paper. $19.95

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Auditions in NYC

Ivoryton Playhouse, CT


NYC Audition 6/24 by appt.

Broadway - MTC


NYC EPA Audition 6/25

Peter Jay Sharp Theatre on Theatre Row


NYC Audition 6/27 by appt.

Maurer Productions, West Windsor, NJ


NJ Audition, July 12

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

POW! (Play Of The Week)

by Bryan Fogel and Sam Wolfson

Gentile or Jew, you will love Jewtopia. Fogel and Wolfson’s ridiculously funny piece immerses us in the world of Jewish tradition with immaculate comic timing. Chris O'Connell, a Gentile, and Adam Lipschitz, a Jew, combine forces in order to achieve what every single man of thirty dreams of: marriage to a gorgeous, rich Jewish girl. Chaos ensues.

This play has an abundance of comic energy. I know little of the Jewish tradition - in fact a lot of the jokes escape me - but still I can appreciate the humor and sympathize with the struggle of the leading characters as they try to fit in.

Everyday at the Drama Book shop we get asked for recommendations for good contemporary comedic scenes. Well, Jewtopia is full of scenes in every shape and size, hot and fresh straight from the oven.

Cast: 3M, 3W

Scenes/Monologues: Jewtopia is a goldmine for two person scenes for two male actors. Also, Act Two includes a family scene, which I hope none can relate to but will leave all with laughter-induced pain in their sides and a hunger to cast and perform it.

Recommended by: Muiris

Friday, June 19, 2009

Staff Favorite: Cops

by Terry Curtis Fox

Here at the Drama Book Shop, we come across a title now and again that falls into the category, "an oldie but a goodie". Maybe we've never read the play before. Maybe we never even knew it existed. But after giving it a try, we're convinced: our customers should give it a try, too.

One such undiscovered gem is Cops.

Set in the mid-1970s, Cops focuses on a group of ordinary Chicago police officers who have ducked into an all-night diner to grab a quick bite and engage in some shop talk. The tales they tell are fast-paced and colorful, and filled with ‘cop-speak’.

And then...disaster.

A gunman appears and kills a cop. A showdown develops as the gunman barricades himself behind the counter. The suspense increases. Who will live? Who will die? Will the gunman listen to the cops and surrender -- or will his next stop be a slab in the morgue?

Cast: 8 M, 1 W.

Scenes/Monologues: A short, tense drama featuring a mostly male cast (only the role of the waitress is written for a woman), Cops has lots of monologues for actors.

Recommended by: Stu

Interesting sidebar: One of the stars of the play's 1976 Chicago premiere was ‘professional T.V. cop’ Dennis Franz (Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue), who played Barberson. If you're familiar with Franz's work at all, you'll hear his voice in everything Barberson says!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Seen & Heard at The Drama Book Shop

Douglas Carter Beane at the Drama Book Shop

"I can't imagine being in the theatre district without stopping by the Drama Book Shop."

Doug is author of many works including screenplays, musicals and plays: including such titles as Advice from a Caterpillar, As Bees in Honey Drown, The Country Club, Little Dog Laughed, Music from a Sparkling Planet, and Xanadu (book of the musical) -- ALL available at the Drama Book Shop.

Little Known Fact: "Dougie" worked at the Drama Book Shop in the mid 1980s, first at the bag check and then as a clerk. He kept as all in stitches!

Monday, June 15, 2009

POW! (Play Of The Week)

by Billy Goda

Dust is a thriller with a really interesting plot. Young guy gets out of jail and gets a job working in a luxury apartment's gym. Older guy/resident comes to the gym to exercise on doctors orders and get's really bent out of shape over some dust on an air vent. Young guy laughs it off and refuses to clean the dust himself which pisses off the old guy, who threatens to get him fired. Young guy refuses the old guy and says, "this doesn't end here".

Then he falls in love with old guy's hot daughter who's angry with daddy.

Also including young guy's best friend/cop and old guy's ex-military/mob thug-friend, we add in just the right amount of push and pull needed to escalate the situation further until someone shows up with a gun. Someone might even die.

Dust is a fascinating play to work on because there is a lot of depth to the characters, which allows for many interpretations and character choices. The girl is a little one dimensional, but with some good choices, an actress can bring it to life. It has good scenes between the young guy and the daughter, and between the young guy and old guy. Also two good scenes for two older men (40's-50's).

Cast: 5 M (2 early 30's, 2 late 40's), 1 W (early 20's) (1 man doubles a role)

Scenes/Monologues: A few good monologues, but some really good two and three person scenes.

Recommended by: Adam

Friday, June 12, 2009

Drama Book Shop Tony Award Prediction Contest Winners!

We are delighted to announce the winners of The Drama Book Shop Tony Awards Prediction Contest.

Ariel Rehr, who predicted an astonishing 24 out of 27 categories, won a $25 Drama Book Shop gift certificate.

Matt Alspaugh (actor, staff person at The Drama Book Shop, and member of the Royal Pyngwyn Collective) presents Ariel Rehr with her prize.

Ariel stated "I read all the articles from the New York Times but I DIDN'T copy. With my $25 gift certificate I bought Speech and Debate and Reasons to be Pretty"

The other winner, Tape Librarian Damian Begley predicted an equally astonishing one winner out of the 27 categories. In spite of his less than stellar performance, Mr. Begley was pleased to find a copy of Film Director: 2nd Edition by Richard Bare, a book he had been "looking for for a LONG time." His prize was a copy of (the unintentionally hysterical) Best of the Film Industry: Movies You Don't Want to Miss by Babriel of Urantia.

Allen Hubby [right] Co-owner of The Drama Book Shop presents Damian Begley with his prize.

Special thanks to bookshop Assistant Manager, Ric Anderson for putting together this year's contest.


Speech and Debate
by Stephen Karam
Acting Edition, 2009.

Reasons to be Pretty
by Neil LaBute
Paper, 2008

Film Director 2nd Edition
by Richard Bare
Paper, 2002,

Best of the Film Industry: Movies You Don't Want to Miss
by Babriel of Urantia
Paper, 2008

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hot Off The Press!

by Vince Melocchi

"[Lions] is a drama that speaks directly to our country’s current state of affairs, which is to say it’s a play about unemployment, hardship and economic collapse. If that sounds like a depressing thematic lineup, the play itself is far from being a downer. 'Lions' takes an unsentimental look at a ravaged cross-section of present-day Detroit and tells a story of compassion in a cold climate....Melocchi’s play is a smart, humanistic...observation of working-class survivalism."--Los Angeles Times

"Lions is about hope...about the endurance of a middle class getting squeezed...finding life amid the lifeless"--Drew Sharp, Detroit Free Press

" all-around touching portrait of Middle America, a reminder that 'real Americans' need not be so reductively characterized as Joe the Plumber."--L.A. Weekly

It’s the 2007 NFL season and the Detroit Lions are on a winning streak — unfortunately out of work steelworker John Waite is not. With humor and humanity, playwright Vince Melocchi offers a glimpse into The Tenth Ward Club, where the patrons place their hopes on their team, and attempt to escape the creeping demise of their city and of their way of life.

Character descriptions:
John "Spook" Waite
- In late forties. John's a long suffering Detroit Lions fan. A lifetime employee of the Elias Metal plant, he has been unemployed since they left town a year ago. Possessing an expert football knowledge, he is haunted by opportunities he passed up in his younger days.

Beth Waite - John's wife. In her mid forties, she works at the local "dollar store" trying to keep things together at the Waite home. These days, she carries the weight of the world on her shoulders.

Mike "Biscuit" Croissant - An African American man in his late forties. Once a proud worker at Elias, "Biscuit" now works for the Detroit morgue collecting unidentified bodies.

Andy Guerall - Early thirties. After the factory closed, he went back to college and now tends bar part time at the Tenth ward club.

Bill "Housepie" Folino - Late fifties. Long time member of the club. A semi-retired man with a heart of gold.

Reverend Russell Stuvants - An African American man in his early fifties. "Rev" is a good natured, caring man of the cloth who helps the members of the club keep a positive outlook.

Larry Gerber - Late forties. A long time member, owns the pizza shop next door to the club.

Gail Finch - Mid forties. A wise-cracking waitress at the local diner. A Green Bay Packers fan, she nevertheless fits right in with the group.

Curtis Benton - An African American man in his late twenties. A frustrated bagger at the local grocery store, he dreams to see the world, but held captive by his fears.

Jerry "Lennie" Lenhart - A salty bartender with a hard exterior, and a bit of a blow hard.

Artie Piro - Twenty-four. He was a childhood friend of John Waite. Appears only in memory.

Mabel Johnson - Late forties. An understanding and sympathetic African American woman, she works as a job placement counselor in downtown Detroit.

Man (aka Chicago) - A Chicago Bears fan visiting the Detroit area, he mistakenly stumbles into the Club to watch the NFL draft, unaware that it is a "club", not a bar.

Teddy "That's Right" Davidson - Another member of the club, he's called "That's Right" because that's all he says throughout the entire play.

Dramatic Comedy. 9m, 3f. Interior. Acting Edition. $9.95.

Could I have This Dance?
by Doug Haverty

“A gripping, emotional piece that both educates and enlightens ...Haverty’s story is engaging and informative, his dialogue crisp and humorous. The characters are interesting and well-developed ... The strength of family-in-crisis is always what gives one renewed hope. Could I Have This Dance?, takes that strength and provides a courageous arena for its expression.”--BURBANK TIMES

“An important new play ... very intelligently written and also a solidly entertaining play ... Witty lines and funny situations provide plenty of comic relief before the action becomes heavy ... Haverty’s grasp of contemporary dialogue is right on the money. His ability to write female chatter and emotions comes as no surprise to those familiar with his previous outings ... Both comical and poignant in context.”--NEWS-PRESS

“What we’re treated to—an increasingly rare treat—is how they handle this reality and their own emotions ... Haverty has an uncluttered sense of character and a good ear for snappy dialogue ... Haverty’s people are down-to-earth and in touch with their feelings. They also speak their minds with sobering candor ... The welcome pattern of sanity than runs through this bantering piece leaves you in the end with a bit of a glow and wishing there were more of this up front kind of coping in real life. There is nothing so attractive or refreshing as people who can face whatever life dishes up and deal with it. That singular element makes Haverty’s unexpectedly urbane play a surprise as well as a joy.”--THE LOS ANGELES TIMES

Woodie Guthrie had it. Arlo may have it. It’s usually hereditary, but not always passed on to every offspring. The symptoms do not normally appear until a person reaches their mid-forties. Referred to as “The Dance of Death,” Huntington’s Disease is a complete degeneration of the nervous system. Recently, medical researchers developed a blood test to determine if the disease is present in young people. The question is: Should we know? There are over 100,000 people in the U.S. that are currently “at risk.” Of these people, only 500 have actually taken this test.

Could I Have this Dance? is about two sisters in their 30’s: Monica and Amanda. Their mother, Jeannette, has Huntington’s and lives with her daughters. The action takes place in the Los Angeles office/home where the girls run a thriving public relations firm, Grapevine, which was started by their mother. During the course of the play, we come to understand the time bomb these two sisters live with. Their possible fate is dramatically evidenced in the characterization of Jeannette which is interpreted through dance. The effects of the disease are “visible” to those onstage, but “invisible” to the audience, except in a few rare instances where the actualization of the disease is revealed. The other characters in the play are the men in these women’s lives. Jeannette’s husband (and the girls’ father), Hank, has come to accept his wife and still loves her very much. Both Monica and Amanda have shunned long-term romantic relationships because of their unknown fate; bitter Monica plays it safe and vibrant Amanda takes every chance with young, one-night-stands. Yet the girls and their father never lose their sense of humor. As the play unfolds, both women have met men they’d like to get serious with and the knowledge of the test both repels and attracts them: Amanda, desperate for the answer and Monica, in morbid fear of it.

Could I Have this Dance? is ultimately about love and cherishing what life we are given. This is a deeply romantic play about difficult choices. As the once-murky medical crystal ball becomes clearer, the universal question remains: Are we better off not looking at what the future holds?

Character Descriptions:
- (30s) Sharp, thorough, conservative, tough publicist and elder sister of Amanda. She is terrified of the future and romantic about what it could bring.

JEANNETTE - (60s) Beautiful, elegant, determined publicist and mother of Amanda and Monica. She can no longer see properly or speak. She is caged inside a rapidly degenerating body and cannot control her movements. (PLEASE NOTE: THIS CHARACTER DOES NOT SPEAK. SHE DANCES.)

HANK - (60s) Mild, content, patient, retired father of Amanda and Monica and husband to Jeannette. Even though his life has been plagued with tragedy, he’s managed to find the humor and love underneath.

AMANDA - (30s) Spirited, adventurous, spontaneous, brazen publicist. She keeps herself too busy to discover she’s lonely. She’s afraid she’s not really interesting so she makes relationships brief.

ERROL - (20s) Handsome, aggressive, open, fun-loving ex-jock, currently working in the mailroom while he awaits a higher wrung on his current career ladder.

COLIN - (30s) Carefree, well-known photo-journalist. He hates phones, schedules and takes work only when he wants to. He tends to gravitate to the wrong people, but seems to like the outcome.

Dramatic Comedy. 3m, 3f. Unit Set. Acting Edition. $9.95.

American Tales
Book and Lyrics by Ken Stone. Music by Jan Powell.

"Excellent new musical."--Critic's Choice, LA Times

"Extraordinary ... skillful and unusually thoughtful ... succeeds brilliantly."--Variety

"Marvelous adaptations ... stylish and enthralling ... haunting score ... brilliant."--Critic's Pick, Backstage

"Striking ... absolutely first rate work.”--EDGE Los Angeles

Act I, The Loves of Alonzo Fitz Clarence and Rosannah Ethelton, is from Mark Twain's story of two people falling in love at a great distance with the aid of that brand-new invention, the telephone. Alonzo in Maine and Rosannah in California meet by the accident of crossed wires and each falls in love with an imagined ideal of the other. So complete is their self-deception that even when brought face to face they cannot recognize each other. Love is found, lost, and found again. Played as period melodrama, but the relevance to 21st century dating habits is clear.

Act II, Bartleby, the Scrivener, is dramatized from Herman Melville's slyly funny but ultimately tragic story. Building on the theme of human connections made and missed, this act takes a darker turn, looking at people who occupy the closest of quarters and yet don't really communicate at all. Bartleby, employed as a copyist in a law office of the 1840s, inexplicably begins to refuse to work, forcing his colleagues to ask themselves the transforming question that ends the play: What do we owe to the people who come into our lives?

Character Descriptions:
- a poetic soul, an idle young man transformed by true love into a tireless, steadfast lover

ROSANNAH ETHELTON - a lovely young woman of high spirits and high ideals

SIDNEY ALGERNON BURLEY - an unwelcome suitor to Rosannah, a born villain

DOCTOR - a compassionate man of middle age, owner of a private madhouse in New York

UNCLE CHARLES - uncle of Rosannah, middle aged, missionary in Honolulu

MAID - (doubled by “Uncle Charles”) an old and sour retainer at Rosannah’s house

ACT II (actors double)
- 55, affluent and self-satisfied

BARTLEBY - a fairly young man, enigmatic, turned almost entirely in upon himself

TURKEY - clerk, an Englishman near 60, something of a drinker

NIPPERS - clerk about 25, high-strung and restless

GINGER NUT - 12, law student, errand boy, sweeper, most often a brat

Musical in two acts, based on stories by classic American writers.
4m, 1f. Period costumes and set pieces, mid to late 19th century. Acting Edition. $9.95.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"A Letter to the Editor of "The New York Time"s by Playwright J.T. Rogers"

The New York Times
THEATER / THEATER   | June 07, 2009
Critic:  Submitting to a Play's Spell, Without the Stage
A critic reads four Tony Award- nominated plays, having seen none of the productions.

From: J.T. Rogers
Tue, 09 Jun 2009 13:32:48 -0400
Dwight Garner's "Critic's Notebook: Submitting to a Play's Spell, Without the Stage,"

To the editor,

As both a playwright and play reader, I enjoyed Dwight Garner's thoughtful article about reading this season's Tony-nominated plays. But I was amused by his pronouncement that "new plays are hard to find in bookstores" I read Mr. Garne’s article while having a cup of coffee in the Dean & Deluca on the first floor of the New York Times building--directly across the street from the Drama Book Shop, wherein every play under the sun is and has been available for years.

J. T. Rogers

J. T. Rogers' "gorgeously wrought"* plays include:

A haunting story of a mysterious disappearance that changes three lives forever. At three different periods in time, three Americans find themselves alone, in the same hotel room overlooking the Spanish Steps in Rome: June, a young woman who works as a tour guide of the city's ancient ruins; Lilian, her wealthy and elegant jet-setting mother; and Nathan, a rumpled university economist and the best friend of Lilian's famous deceased husband. They each tell their individual story of how and why they are here. Their relationship to each other, what this room means to them, and why they have been called to it slowly reveal themselves. Their stories spill out, weave back and forth—each contradicting, clarifying, deepening what the others say—becoming strands of one gripping and disquieting tale

Acting Edition
2006, $8.95

The Overwhelming
When American academic Jack Exley arrives in Kigali, Rwanda, in early 1994 to write about his old college classmate, Dr. Joseph Gasana, and his work with children stricken by AIDS, Jack is unable to find anyone who even admits to knowing the doctor. Jack, his African-American second wife, Linda, and his teenage son, Geoffrey, become enmeshed in the politics, fear and personal betrayals that mark the start of a genocidal war—a horror all can sense is coming but no one can comprehend or control.

The Overwhelming
Acting Edition
2009, $8.95

White People
Now—right now—what does it mean to be a white American? What does it mean for any American to live in a country that is not the one you were promised? WHITE PEOPLE is a controversial and darkly funny play about the lives of three ordinary Americans placed under the spot-light: Martin, a Brooklyn–born high powered attorney for a white-shoe law firm in St. Louis, MO; Mara Lynn, a housewife and former home-coming queen in Fayetteville, NC; and Alan, a young professor struggling to find his way in New York City. Through heart-wrenching confessions, they wrestle with guilt, prejudice, and the price they and their children must pay for their actions. WHITE PEOPLE is a candid, brutally honest meditation on race and language in our culture.

White People
Acting Edition
2007, $8.95

All three are available at The Drama Book Shop.


*Andre Gregory

Monday, June 08, 2009

Friday, June 12: Free Mini-workshop with author D.W. Brown, You Can Act!: A Complete Guide for Actors at The Drama Book Shop

Time: Friday, June 12, 2009 6:00 p.m.
Location: The Drama Book Shop, 250 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018
Title of Event: Getting the Job with D.W. Brown, You Can Act: A Complete Guide for Actors

Mini-workshop with acting teacher and author D.W. Brown, which will include insider information on landing jobs in Los Angeles.

As the artistic head of The Joanne Baron/D. W. Brown Studio, ( D. W. Brown has trained, directed and coached hundreds of actors and led seminars on acting with Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Dustin Hoffman, Susan Sarandon, Sidney Pollack, Sam Raimi and Tom Shadyac; other notables who have spoken at the studio include: Robert De Niro, Jim Caviezel, Jeff Goldblum, David Mamet, Martin Sheen, Richard Dreyfuss, John Singleton, Martha Coolidge, Robert Towne and Mark Rydell.

D.W. has personally coached and taught Robin Wright Penn, Leslie Mann, Keanu Reaves, Jamie Kennedy, Nicollette Sheridan, Michael Vartan, and many other great talents. He has just finished writing and directing the feature film "IN NORTHWOOD" starring Nick Stahl, Olivia Wilde, Dash Mihok, Pruit Taylor Vince, Shoreh Aghdashloo, and Joanne Baron.

Friday, June 05, 2009

POW! (Play Of The Week)

by Lucy Thurber

How fast and how far do you have to run to escape the gravity of your home?

This is one question that echoes throughout playwright Lucy Thurber’s work. Like any good writer, Thurber has been at it for a while; slowly, as the world has been catching up with her, Dramatists published a bunch of her play in one lump. They’re all good; among them, Where We’re Born stands out.

It’s about a tiny corner of Massachusetts, where the local pastimes include drinking heavily, screwing around on your mate and pointing fingers at the other cuckolded drunks. Lilly is a local girl made good, well, relatively so, in that she’s incredibly smart and attending a good college; she returns for a break in the fall to her beloved cousin Tony, his douchey pals and his long-time girlfriend Franky.

There’s something ominous in the air what will all the bingeing and random fisticuffs; and though Lilly is recognizably changed, she slips easily back into the patterns of the place. She surprises everyone with her saucy mouth and reported escapades with men of a somewhat darker skin tone, but surpasses everyone’s expectations in seducing Franky. From there, the small space and tiny cast of players fall into incestuous rhythms, cementing and dissolving the bonds between them in an effort to cement or dissolve their ties to the difficult place they call home, once and for all.

The environment of this Massachusetts hill town, one that haunts, tackles, and drags its denizens back into cycles of boredom-induced ugliness, sticks to the brain. Its story, whose plot points could easily spill into melodrama, Thurber keeps uncomfortable, dangerous, and, maybe most disturbing of all, believable. (Her talent for natural dialogue – and her ability to electrify it -- helps.) Try it.

Cast: 2 W, 3 M

Scenes/Monologues: Both contemplative and highly volatile scenes for M/W and W/W. All characters in their 20s. Half-poetical monologues for a young man.

Recommended by: Matthew.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Thursday, June 11: Free Clinic - How Good is Your Headshot at The Drama Book Shop.

Time: Thursday, June 11, 2009 6:00 p.m.
Location: The Drama Book Shop, 250 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018
Title of Event: Free Clinic: How Good is Your Headshot

Free Clinic: How Good is Your Headshot
With Ellis Gaskell, author of The Actors Guide: How to Get the Best Headshot

Headshots are a critical tool in forging an actor's career. Find out if yours works at the free Headshot Clinic. A panel headed by Ellis Gaskell, author of The Actors Guide: How To Get The Best Headshot, along with with Clay Smith, of the Luedtke Agency and Todd Etelson, President of Actor's Technique NY, will discuss why a headshot counts as a "two-second interview."

Attendees are encouraged to bring in their own headshots for evaluation by the panel

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Intermission Talk, for June 3, 2009

by Tony Vellela

Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Vieux Carre and Blithe Spirit

Where to?

Most great plays share a common trait - they take you to a place you've never been. And three current offerings present great choices. You can languish in the Depression-era squalor and sordid glamour of New Orleans, clink champagne glasses and exercise funny bones in the elegant British countryside of the '30s, or peel back the layers of Black America's broken promises in the early twentieth century Hill District of Pittsburgh. Wherever you choose, it's a helluva good place to spend some time.

August Wilson's "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," is set in a boardinghouse in 1911. Lloyd Richards, who worked with the playwright while it was being developed, and directed the original Broadway production in 1988, once told me that he felt it actually took place "in a kind of way-station, a stop-off, where people stop off on their way to someplace else. It was a play I envisioned as being in the middle of the desert."

Director Bartlett Sher actualizes that same sentiment in the current stunning revival at the Belasco. Moveable realistic set pieces create almost a hallucinatory illusion of a 'place,' and it is the blood-pulsing characters and their sulfur-infused tales that ignite real-world reactions as they spring to life. Central to the story of three floors of bedrooms maintained with decent standards by a solidly-married couple, and occupied with travelers, is that of Harold Loomis and his young daughter Zonia. His wife disappeared while Loomis was in prison, and now he searches everywhere for her, the little girl at the end of his hand every step of the way.

There are no weak performances here, and the spiritual essence of these souls emerges despite the despair, transience and bitterness that govern their minds and actions. Roger Robinson, as one of Wilson's iconic myth-carriers, and Chad L. Coleman as Loomis anchor a production that fairly glides above the surface of the scorched earth that holds these characters back, even as their spirits fight to set them free.

Another boarding-house, this one in the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1938, also shelters travelers, but this time its landlady is as much of a lost soul as her handful of guests. And she provides a young, indigent writer with her skewed insights into human behavior, even as he begins to explore the off-color hues in his own personal pallet. When Tennessee Williams finally completed "Vieux Carre" in 1977, it had been gestating from his original drafts four decades earlier. Williams scholars and other theorists with a familiarity that lets them speak Williams-ese glimpse the essence of many of his ladies and their men in these hapless denizens, from Alma as she descends into her post-sanctimony, and Stanley's prideful ignorance and carnal domination, to the pitiful Hannah, sketching tourists for pennies, and the two Southern ladies in "Something Unspoken." The Writer, a first cousin to Tom, another Williams alter ego, is a soft young man given that necessary bit of warmth this hollow creature requires by the focused Sean McNall, and gets himself woven into all their fleeting lives. The lethally-stricken, gay tubercular 'artist' Nightingale, given the unapologetic fatalism he wallows in by the remarkable George Morfogen, slowly thaws the Writer's defenses.

Sean McNall and George Morfogen


Williams evinces a kind of magic trick with this deceptive play. This could appear to be a pipe dream of Blanche, her imaginings of where she would have wound up if Stella and Stanley had moved away and left no forwarding address. Yet the sentimental potential has been kept gently in check, the stories told with Big Daddy's no-nonsense lack of flourish.

Director Austin Pendleton has pulled off a hat trick of his own, aided by the fluid set he and set designer Harry Feiner created to solve the issue of a three-floor, narrow, dilapidated, historic building taking place on the confines of the Pearl Theatre Company's stage. "Vieux Carre" gets few productions because of its seemingly rambling dramatic structure, where vignettes and scene fragments get scattered across the footlights like crumbs to pigeons, just enough to keep them/us from starving, but never a complete course. However, Pendleton lets his actors provide the seasoning, the garnish, and most crucial, the sauce. And this one has plenty of hot, tangy and even tongue-searing sauce.

Titles often become so familiar that their actual meaning is left unexamined, which has happened to Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit." Unless you actually know what 'blithe' means [and it's not a misspelling of Gwyneth's Mom's name], you may miss Coward's central point: Elvira, the departed first wife of a successful mystery-writer, who has come back from the dead to haunt him and his new wife, is 'blithe,' which it to say, carefree, or in the original definition, gay.

And why not? She's got nothing to lose. She's been conjured up by a clumsy medium named Madame Arcadi, brought in as after-dinner parlor entertainment. Elvira [Christine Ebersole] can only be seen by her bewildered ex-spouse George [dashing Rufus Everett], caught at the fulcrum of a living-and dead love triangle. Seen or unseen, Elvira makes merry mischief in an attempt to show George just how dull he's become, thanks to his current properly-stuffy wife [a measured, menaced Jayne Atkinson], when compared his former self, when he relished the fun-loving antics of his first marriage. Old oft-revived period pieces get labeled 'old chestnuts,' but this one, this time, feels sophisticated, wry, witty and bursting with life, qualities not seen or appreciated on any so-called television comedies of the last few years [decades?].

Photo: Sylvain Gaboury

Age plays no discernible part also in the eternally-energetic Angela Lansbury, well into her eighth decade as one of the world's most versatile and cherished actors. Some formidable women have tackled the divine diviner. Margaret Rutherford, like the human embodiment of a British warship, stole the 1945 film version, all guns blazing. Beatrice Lillie crooned her spells as the musical Madame in "High Spirits," in 1964. Geraldine Page created a somewhat befuddled, gentle soul in the 1987 Broadway revival, her last role. This Madame A., the shimmering incarnation of another Madame A., commandeers the stage with guile born of craft, and her wise fellow cast-members willingly and wisely step back and let us all marvel at this glorious, golden performance.

On Book
Toss out all those Sunday supplement and Magazine insert recommended reading lists. This summer, in or out of town, let plays take you to another place, courtesy of Williams, Wilson and Coward. Happily immerse yourself in their enthralling legacies of searing characters, epic sagas and big, big laughs.

If your bookshelf already houses the major [read 'well-known'] Williams works, turn to the later plays. From "Orpheus Descending" to "A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur," and including "Vieux Carre," pick up the Library of America collection compiled by Mel Gussow and Kenneth Holditch. Fill unfilled Saturday mornings with a one-act from "27 Wagons Full of Cotton and Other Plays," from New Directions. And chuckle your way through the autobiography "Remember Me to Tom," by The Mom, Edwina Williams.

The Hill District of Pittsburgh may seem like an unlikely place to visit for any length of time. August Wilson expertly crafted a ten-play cycle, one for each of the twentieth century's decades, and deciding to 'live' in each for one week at a time will give you endless answers on Labor Day to 'what did you do last summer?' In order, they are "Gem of the Ocean," "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" [the only one not set there, but in Chicago], "The Piano Lesson," "Seven Guitars," "Fences," "Two Trains Running," "Jitney," "King Hedley II," and "Radio Golf." And you do not need to know anything at all in advance about Pittsburgh, African-American history, August Wilson's biography or the twentieth century to savor every single page of these great works.

And to insure a blithe couple of hours whenever the spirit moves you, smile and smirk your way through several other Coward comedies. Both "Noel Coward Collected Plays: Four" published by Methuen Drama, and "Three Plays: Blithe Spirit, Hay Fever and Private Lives" from Vintage Books, guarantee that same level of giddy, witty pleasure that a precious handful of thirties film comedies also deliver, with their 'you can be smart and still be silly' formula that very few know how to master.

TONY VELLELA, the veteran theatre correspondent for "The Christian Science Monitor," writes and produces the PBS series about theatre, "Character Studies". His work has also appeared in "Parade," "Theatre Week,"" USA Today," "Dramatics," "Rolling Stone," and several other publications.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Drama Book Shop Resident Theatre Production Co. Striking Viking Story Privates & Plus Entertainment Present 'Found'

Come see why Found and Story Pirates attract unabashed fans and contributors like Dave Eggers, Drew Barrymore, Tom Robbins, Jon Stewart, Andy Samberg, Ira Glass, Seth Rogen, Steve Buscemi and David Sedaris - and many more. If you haven't been to an AfterDark show yet, you don't want to miss this!

Thursday, June 4th -- 8pm
Friday, June 5th -- (2 shows!) 8pm & 10pm
Saturday, June 6th -- (2 shows!) 8pm & 10pm

@ The Actor’s Playhouse
100 7th Avenue South @ Grove Street
New York, NY (212) 255 6452

Bar opens 30 minutes prior to each show


or just send an email to for discounted tickets.


PLUS Entertainment and Story Pirates AfterDark are proud to present: FOUND -- a benefit for the Story Pirates. Inspired by Davy Rothbart's cult classic publication FOUND Magazine, this one of a kind, multi-media musical is the true embodiment of the adage, "One man's trash is another man's treasure." Like the highly-lauded magazine and two best-selling books, FOUND is based entirely on lost and discarded notes, diaries, love letters, to-do lists, photographs -- anything that gives you a glimpse into someone else's life.

Audience members are highly encouraged to participate by bringing their own “finds” to the performance. Watch in amazement as the Story Pirates fully incorporate a brand new, never-before- seen "find" into each performance... That's right! Laugh yourself silly as these brilliant improvisers seamlessly weave real found objects, presented live by audience members, into each show!

For loyal fans of the magazine, FOUND is FOUND Magazine like you've never seen it. Featuring a full cast of actors, video segments and outrageous songs by Story Pirates resident genius Eli Bolin, the highly-acclaimed comedy troupe the Story Pirates bring FOUND to life in a show that's bigger, louder and funnier than ever before. Who stole A.J’s binder? What ever happened to that chick from Cosmetics Plus™? And why is Tommy still banned from the batting cages? Sit back and watch as the Story Pirates playfully fill in the blanks with relentless hilarity for this very special event.

• FOUND Magazine (, created in 2001 by Davy Rothbart, features an edited array of things formerly misplaced, dropped, or otherwise left behind by others. Break-up letters, birthday cards, kids' homework, shopping lists, Polaroids, ticket stubs, poetry on napkins, doodles -- anything goes. The witty and much-lauded periodical has produced eight magazines and two National best-selling books.

"Found is a quirky lens into the flotsam and jetsam of humanity."-- Chicago Tribune

"Found is as unexpected as a tumbleweed."--The New Yorker

"I love Found! Found proves that life is full of surprises; when you keep your eyes on the ground, you never know what you're gonna find!"--Drew Barrymore

"Found is a trash picker's and anthropologist's dream come true!"--Los Angeles Times

"Found is a powerful fix for thinking voyeurs!"--The Boston Globe

"Crazy entertaining."--Jon Stewart

"A fascinating way to eavesdrop on the lives of our fellow man."--David Letterman

Monday, June 01, 2009

Hot off the Press! Available now at the Drama Book Shop.

Skin Deep
by Jon Lonoff

“Warm-hearted comedy … the laughter was literally show-stopping. A winning play, with enough good-humored laughs and sentiment to keep you smiling from beginning to end.”

“It’s a little Paddy Chayefsky, a lot Neil Simon and a quick-witted, intelligent voyage into the not-so-tranquil seas of middle-aged love and dating. The dialogue is crackling and hilarious; the plot simple but well-turned; the characters endearing and quirky; and lurking beneath the merriment is so much heartache that you’ll stand up and cheer when the unlikely couple makes it to the inevitable final clinch.”--NYTheatreWorld.Com

“In a country obsessed with weight, plastic surgery, dating and infidelity, it is little wonder that a playwright has come along to tackle all of these sticky subjects in a new satirical comedy called Skin Deep. This particular production has the virtue of having vital components on firm ground. The crowd delighted in every one-liner the night I attended.”--ELJArtsAnnex.Com

In Skin Deep, a large, lovable, lonely-heart, named Maureen Mulligan, gives romance one last shot on a blind-date with sweet awkward Joseph Spinelli; she's learned to pepper her speech with jokes to hide insecurities about her weight and appearance, while he's almost dangerously forthright, saying everything that comes to his mind. They both know they're perfect for each other, and in time they come to admit it.

They were set up on the date by Maureen's sister Sheila and her husband Squire, who are having problems of their own: Sheila undergoes a non-stop series of cosmetic surgeries to hang onto the attractive and much-desired Squire, who may or may not have long ago held designs on Maureen, who introduced him to Sheila. With Maureen particularly vulnerable to both hurting and being hurt, the time is ripe for all these unspoken issues to bubble to the surface.

Character descriptions:
MAUREEN MULLIGAN is a full-figured, earthy, attractive, lovable lonely heart. She lives in Forest Hills, Queens, is a devout Catholic and works as a dental hygienist.

SHEILA WHITING (neé Mulligan) is Maureen’s very beautiful sister, fashionable, flamboyant and full of advice. She grew up with Maureen and six more brothers and sisters in Queens and went on to marry old Connecticut money and move to New York’s Upper East Side. She genuinely wants what she presumes is best for everyone.

SQUIRE WHITING, JR. is a handsome “government relations” lawyer in the prestigious family firm. Full of charm and self-mocking humor. He doesn’t take himself - or much else - too seriously.

JOE SPINELLI is an endearing, unlucky, lonely guy from Bensonhurst.

Comedy. 2m, 2f. Single Set. Acting Edition. $9.95

Author Biography:
Jon Lonoff’s writing credits range from an adaptation of Aesop’s Fables for marionettes to a training film for Sunoco gas station attendants. His theatrical and film work has included The Garbage Cantata (with Barry Keating), a musical about recycling, commissioned and produced by Riverbarge Productions, published by Samuel French, Inc., and later produced for video by the United Nations; The Dark Knight, an independent film (produced and directed by Eric Farber) which won the Silver Award for Comedy at the Houston WorldFest Film Festival and was subsequently developed into an NBC-TV movie; and Key Changes and Other Disasters(with Hank Levy), awarded Best Musical Revue by the Naional Association of Cabaret and Concert Artists. He is particularly proud of his work as co-writer and co-editor of a documentary film about Nepal, Top of the World, (with Bill Kern, produced by Second Type Productions) which has won awards at film festivals all over the world.

by Bryan Fogel and Sam Wolfson

"Hilarious! Raucous! Merciless! …Bryan Fogel and Sam Wolfson know their territory well and assault it with unflagging comic energy! Enlisting Andy Fickman as director ensures an equal-opportunity satire…when Jewtopia hits its mark, which is frequently, it’s outrageously funny!"--Los Angeles Times

"Entertaining!...Wild!...Raucous!...Wolfson and Fogel fill the stage with overwhelming energy…they come across as natural clowns, alternately vulnerable, charming and animated. Certain to hit home with all observers, whatever their religion!"--Variety

"After a quarter century of Neil Simon and his imitators, the playwrights redeem the formula with edge! Displaying a commercial sensibility that is almost obscene, they combine the swaggering generation y, nailing two demographics at once! The result is irresistible The young authors play the parts with sassy abandon! The script throws every ingredient on hand into the comedic chicken soup!"--Time Out New York

"Crazy! Hilarious! A laugh riot! Fogel and Wolfson bring an easy charm to their roles! A fresh take on an old theme, played for a new generation. We predict that Jewtopia will fun forever."--The Journal News

Jewtopia tells the story of two 30 year old single men, Chris O’Connell and Adam Lipschitz. Chris, a gentile, wants to marry a Jewish girl so he’ll never have to make another decision. Adam Lipschitz, a Jew, wants to marry a Jewish girl to please his family, but can’t get a date to save his life. After meeting at a Jewish singles mixer, Adam and Chris form a secret pact. Chris promises that he will help Adam find the Jewish girl of his dreams and show him “Jewtopia”, but only if Adam will help Chris shed his gentile-ness and bring him undercover into the Jewish world. Stereotypes collide, cultures clash and chaos ensues!

Comedy. 7m. Acting Edition. $9.95

by John Clancy

“Brazen…daring…highly entertaining.”--Jason Zinoman, The New York Times

“Make room for Fatboy. Meaner than Stalin, hungrier than Idi Amin, deadlier than Pol Pot, he is the grotesque composite of every despot who ever lived...he is also savagely funny...Some plays ridicule their audience; others inspire political action. Fatboy may be the rare work that does both.”--Jorge Morales, Village Voice

“This is brilliant political satire, hitting the zeitgeist right where it hurts...A ground-breaking piece of American absurdism, a transatlantic take on the Ubu tradition that goes beyond imitation to seize and transform the myth for a new age of American power.”--Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman

"Clancy's 2004 Edinburgh Fringe hit adaptation of Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi comes just in time for the Wall Street meltdown and one of the most surreal election campaigns in American history."--Steven Leigh Morris, LA Weekly

Fatboy is a brutal comedy inspired by Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi. This satire on modern America’s insatiable appetites--from gobbling up 72oz. steaks to small nations--is presented as a live-action Punch and Judy show. In this fast-moving, shocking, profane, dead-on, funhouse mirror reflection of the world today, the brutish allegory known as Fatboy, along with his monstrous wife, Queen Fudgie the First, stands trial for war crimes. Despite overwhelming evidence the court refuses to convict and succumbs to Fatboy's “persuasive” tactics.

3 m, 2 f. Acting Edition. $9.95