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Red Herring: Meet the Director!

The wait is finally over—we’re here to dive into our next mainstage show! Red Herring by Michael Hollinger opens in September, and we know this is one you’re going to enjoy. A noir comedy that begins with a murder in Boston Harbor and ventures to Joe McCarthy’s home in middle America and to the Southwest deserts where the nuclear bomb is being tested, this show has it all. It’s a love story, a nostalgic look at America in the early 1950s, a murder mystery, and most of all a comedy of epic proportions. Along the way, you’ll meet hard-nosed New England detectives, disgruntled FBI agents, naïve Midwestern maidens, and Soviet spies who all have one thing in common: a desperate need for love and commitment in a crazy, Communist ridden world.

We could talk all day about the hilarity that is Red Herring, but who better to speak to than the lady in charge? Below we have an exciting interview with the director, Barbara Burgess-Lefebvre, who will make her directorial debut with us next month. But Barbara is hardly new to the stage—in fact, let’s just let her tell you herself!

Casey: Welcome to the Bobcats! Would you mind briefly introducing yourself?

Barbara: Hi! I’m Barbara Burgess-Lefebvre, working with Bobcat Players for the first time! I’ve been directing in the area for 15 years, at Ashcat Theatre, Iron Horse Theatre, Comtra, Pittsburgh New Works, the Richard E. Rauh Conservatory, and Robert Morris University. I have my Master of Fine Arts in Directing from Illinois State University and currently live in Ambridge with my husband Jack and my kids Bennett and Johnna. I am a Professor of English and Theatre at Robert Morris University and work as an actor with the Dinner Detective Company at the Omni Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh.

C: Fantastic! We’re so happy to have you. So let’s dive right in to the script at hand. What was your first impression of Red Herring? What sets it apart and/or inspires you?

B: I loved Red Herring within the first couple of pages. It is silly, fun, and theatrical with six actors playing many, many roles. Because it is a send up of film noir, it has over twenty locations which will be a challenge for set design and flow of the piece which is very different from many scripts for the stage. Working with actors to create many clearly distinct characters will be a delightful challenge.

C: What are you most looking forward to with the show?

B: I am most looking forward to working with six insanely talented actors, and the cast is a great mix of both new and familiar faces for the Bobcat audiences. I actually taught two of these actors at RMU and have seen almost all of them in other performances. Their auditions were outstanding and they are going to bring so much to this script. Just hearing them cold read at auditions left the audience laughing!

C: What would you say to encourage audiences to attend?

B: Red Herring is probably a title that Bobcat audience may not have heard of, although it had a successful run at City Theatre many years ago. But this is going to be just the thing for a night of theatre; a clever, funny script that runs on ahead of the audience hollering over its shoulder to “keep up”!

If that doesn’t have you intrigued, I honestly don’t know what will. Stay tuned for our next blog entry, where we get to know the Red Herring cast--and don’t forget to come see our performance of The Set-Up at the Pittsburgh New Works Festival, which opens in exactly one week!

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