Meet the Artists, Part III
We're less than 10 days away from Players in the Park: Quarantine Comedy and we couldn't be more excited! So far, we've discussed 6 out of our 9 vignettes, introducing the show summaries, casts, and playwrights. Today is our last exploration of our final scripts and though we're sad to see it end, we know that means we're only getting closer to reuniting with you in Quay Park for the return of live theatre! We hope you'll join us at 6 PM on September 12 (or September 13 if it rains!) for this FREE outreach production.
Bob Zaslow is a published and produced playwright and author, who has also worked as a teacher, advertising copywriter, creative supervisor, and documentary film-maker. He has written a half-dozen short plays performed Off-Off Broadway and the book to an Off-Broadway musical, The Seed of Abraham, produced at the NYC Fringe Festival at their flagship Bleecker Street Theatre. As a teacher, he developed a method to teach his Bronx students using rap and rhyme, which led him to write and publish Rap-Notes: Shakespeare's Greatest Hits available on Amazon. As a copywriter, Zaslow won a Clio and two Effies and as a film-maker, he won a Bronze American Film Festival award for Nadine Valenti, Portrait of a Painter, also shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
His ten-minute play, You Were Awesome, is a funny morning-after piece in which a former soap opera star wakes up with a strange woman and no recollection of her or the very wild party he threw. As she enlightens him, he reacts in horror at what actually transpired. We are excited to announce that Keith Zagorski will play the role of Steven, the aging star, opposite Erin Bock as Ruthie. As many probably know, Keith is our Vice President and has appeared in too many Bobcat productions to count. What you might not realize (or remember) is that Keith was directing One Man, Two Guvnors at the time of the COVID-19 shutdown, with Erin Bock as his musical director. Erin made her Bobcat debut in the Pittsburgh New Works Festival last year and was scheduled to appear on our stage later this month in the postponed production of The Revlon Girl. We certainly appreciated the duo's hard work on One Man, Two Guvnors--although sadly our audiences were not able to see it--and we are excited to see them work together in this piece, which we know will elicit tons of laughter!
David Narter is a teacher and writer, and the cohost of the weekly education/comedy podcast, Teacher Talk with Mr. Teachwell. He is the author of the parody books, The Worst Baby Name Book and Don’t Name Your Baby, which have been featured on CNN, ABC and WLS-Chicago. His essays have appeared in English Journal and The Book Group Book, and he is a frequent contributor to The Heckler, a Chicago online and print monthly that satirizes Chicago sports. His full length play, #krazyman, was a semi-finalist for the 2019 National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. His ten-minute play, Sharpies, has been performed in Chicago and LA, and has a fascinating origin story. "I was asked to participate in a festival where each playwright was given three or four headshots from which they were to write a ten-minute play. Those are the three characters in Sharpies," Narter said. "In her headshot, the woman seemed significantly more ambitious than the guy who became her husband in the play, and that got me thinking about parenting and how different personal expectations have a lot to do with disagreements about how to raise kids. Then, I just pulled the taffy of that idea out until it looked ridiculous."
In our production, the husband and wife will be played by Andrea Cary and J. Daniel Craig. Both members of the Ambridge couple are probably familiar faces to our audience. Andrea has appeared in our outreach productions before and worked in many capacities on our 2018 production of Blithe Spirit. J. Daniel Craig last appeared on our stage in our 2019 season opener Enchanted April and has directorial aspirations, which we are excited to explore once we are back in our home theatre. The two are joined by David Cary in the role of Mr. Glenn, the admissions officer for the exclusive daycare in question. David was last seen in A Streetcar Named Desire and was cast in what was to be our fall musical, Lucky Stiff. We asked Narter what he hoped audiences would take away from his play, and he said, "I hope they laugh. Yeah, there’s some truth in the play (all good humor is laced with truth), but this isn’t the time for a shock of recognition. If it really goes well, I hope they laugh hard enough to make themselves forget what a drag this year has been." We hope so, too!
Our final play of the evening, One Final All Hallow's Eve by James Eychaner, is a sentimental piece that is the perfect way to end our evening. This gentle script follows an older man who goes to the cemetery on Halloween to visit his wife's grave and is stopped by an assertive female police officer, who is highly suspicious of his intentions. Jere Antonetti, who audiences will recognize from his many performances both on our main stage and outreach productions, will play the role of the widower. Joining him as the policewoman is Bridget Yeager, who was last seen in A Streetcar Named Desire and Something to Hide.
Interestingly, playwright Eychaner made his first-ever play submission to the Seattle Playwrights Salon just three short years ago, and that play was One Final All Hallow's Eve. The Washington resident began writing before retiring from state government, and has gone on to write multiple theatre pieces, some of which can be found on New Play Exchange. However, his experience with theatre goes beyond writing: Eychaner is a character artist for Ballet Northwest. "I have appeared in over 100 performances of The Nutcracker, portrayed the King in Sleeping Beauty, and the title role in Don Quixote," Eychaner said. "I am self-taught in ballet mime and acting, and have no dancing skills." His inspiration for One Final All Hallow's Eve came from an exercise in a community college writing class. "Random objects were gathered, and I responded to a jack'o'lantern and a toy headstone," he said. When asked what he hoped audiences would take away from his script, he responded simply, "That love and loyalty can evoke compassion." We think the world could use a little more of that right now.
So that's what's on the table! We hope you've enjoyed this brief series and we know you'll love Players in the Park: Quarantine Comedy even more. Please remember that masks are HIGHLY encouraged and we will be enforcing social distancing to the best of our ability. Don't forget your blankets and/or lawn chairs, as you are responsible for your own seating. (Hey, it's a free show--we're doing the best we can!) We recommend visiting our local businesses for takeout that you are welcome to enjoy during the show, and if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out!