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.


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