Tomorrow and Monday (10/17 at 2 pm ET, 10/18 at 7 pm ET), auditions are being held for You Can’t Take It With You by Moss Hart and George Kaufman at the Village Players in Ft. Thomas, KY. I’m directing the show.
I’ve been saying since we announced the show that this play is an actor’s dream. It is filled with characters that actors should want to play. Each character is unique to the situation bringing their own substance to the play that becomes the Vanderhof family. I want to highlight some of the characters in the show and why you should be thinking about auditioning.
It’s easy to single out Martin Vanderhof, the Grandpa in the play, as the central character. Every member of the family is guided by his own philosophy. He lives as he pleases, free and doing anything that makes him happy. His family has taken up that message, as have others who come into their lives, and the result is a warm, loving family, full of support to one another. Martin is not an overbearing character but leads by quiet example.
The whole play revolves around Alice, Martin’s granddaughter, who has a job outside the home and has a sense of the reality of the real world. Is she confused? Yes. She loves her family but wants to present them to her fiancé’s family as normal. Does she succeed? No. But her conflict over what her family really is and what she wants them to be is the heart of the show. Alice is more than just the normal character in a play of odd characters. She is complex and has depth.
The Russians are coming. Boris Kolenkhov had escaped Russia just before Stalin’s Great Purge, during which many artists were being arrested and killed. He is happy to be in America, where he can pursue his own vision of happiness, which includes being Essie’s dance instructor, and a friend to Martin, with whom he can discuss political ideology. He’s big, demonstrative and passionate.
The other Russian in the play is the Grand Duchess Olga Katrina, who also escaped Russia and is now working at a restaurant. The family fawns over her and she immediately fits right in. Her part is wonderful and can really stand out among the cast.
For more information about auditions, the play and the characters, visit https://www.villageplayers.org/auditions.
(My play, Curtain Call, a comedy about famous actors worrying about their performances, will be part of PlayZoomers evening of live, online theater, Friday, October 22 at 7:30 p.m., ET, and Saturday, October 23, at 9:30 p.m., ET. Tickets are on Eventbrite. Visit www.playzoomers.org for more info. I hope to “see” you there.)
Thoughts on “Curtain Call”
I posted on Facebook the fact that a play I have written called “Curtain Call” is being performed later in October. I mentioned that the play is about actors who are worried that their performances weren’t up to their usual standards.
That resulted in a friend of mine commenting that “Are people really interested in what actors think?”
Fair question. I never really thought of it that way. “Curtain Call” is what we call a “backstage” comedy, revealing the behind-the-scenes action. It’s a device that gives us the true motives of the actors performing in a play that are often far different than what they present on stage. Plenty of playwrights have used this backstage contrivance to advance their play, such as “The Royal Family” by Kaufman and Ferber, “Present Laughter” by Noel Coward, “Noises Off” by Michael Frayen, “A Chorus Line” by Hamlisch, Kleban, Kirkwood and Dante, “Kiss Me Kate” by the Spewacks and Cole Porter. Now perhaps I shouldn’t compare my play to those above, but the principle is the same. Audiences will care what actors think as long as it’s entertaining them.
Providing the entertainment in “Curtain Call” are three actors, two of them who are based on the true antics of perhaps the greatest acting team in American theater, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, and the other is based on Noel Coward. They were perfectionists, constantly talking about their roles, day and night, and how to improve their characterizations. On the day before one of their long-running shows was about to close, Lynn mentioned to Alfred that she was going to change an inflection on how she delivered one of her lines to get a bigger laugh.
In “Curtain Call,” my character, Lydia Francis, ever the perfectionist, tells her husband, Allen Hart and the playwright, Neil Collins, just how Allen threw off her performance.
It started in Act One.
The lunch scene.
Yes. Allen placed the glass on wrong side of the serving tray.
I don’t know what got into me. A total lack of concentration, I suppose.
That concerned me.
Oh, it concerned you, did it?
Yes. I saw it right away. Of course, I looked at Allen and saw the terror in his eyes. That threw me. I panicked as well and before I knew it, my head was moving back and forth as I delivered the lines.
Back and forth?
Ever so slightly.
But it threw me off. I nearly forgot to serve the finger sandwiches at the proper time.
I don’t know how you ever recovered.
I didn’t. I was thinking about it for the rest of the play.
Hopefully, that answers the question “are we interested in what actors think”. We need to look at them as not just actors, but as characters about which we care and take an interest and laugh at their hard-driven perfectionism.
I hope many of you will “stop by” to see the play. I think you’ll enjoy it.
In 2020, who knew what would happen? In January, Lily Blossoms, or Modern Subdivision Zoning in the Present Day was given a staged reading through the Cincinnati Playwrights Initiative. Also, a monologue from Lily Blossoms was performed by Darkhorse Dramatists in Syracuse, New York.
The Sequel to Citizen Kane was given a reading in March 2020 by Miami (of Ohio) University’s Miami Writes program. And then everything shut down. As a director, I had six shows canceled, hopefully to be rescheduled. One play I was going to direct, Let’s Murder Marsha, has been rescheduled for 2022.
In October 2020, The Janus Circle was performed via Zoom by the Philadelphia Screenwriters performance group.
The Sequel to Citizen is scheduled for November 2020, performed via Zoom by New City Players in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
PREMIERE OF LILY BLOSSOMS, OR MODERN SUBDIVISION ZONING IN THE PRESENT DAY, AT THE ARONOFF CENTER, JANUARY 14
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information, contact
Greg Hatfield, firstname.lastname@example.org
PREMIER OF LILY BLOSSOMS, OR MODERN SUBDIVISION ZONING IN THE PRESENT DAY, AT THE ARONOFF CENTER, JANUARY 14
The Cincinnati Playwrights Initiative New Voices series presents the premiere of Lily Blossoms, or Modern Subdivision Zoning in the Present Day by Greg Hatfield, in a staged reading, on Tuesday, January 14th, 2020, at 7:30 p.m., at the Fifth Third Bank Theater in the Aronoff Center for the Arts, 650 Walnut Street, in Downtown Cincinnati.
This sophisticated comedy is set in New York City in 1954. Lily Palmer and Theodore Barkley, the star writers for Manhattan magazine, are the very best of friends. Hating their present assignments, they decide to mix things up a bit to the consternation of their editor. Barkley has also been moonlighting as an actor and gets an offer from a movie studio in Hollywood. This could break up the team and his marriage.
Cincinnati community theater lovers will recognize this cast: Cathy Jo Judge, Darren Lee, Peggy Allen and Chris Bishop, as all are very familiar faces throughout the city, working consistently on plays and musicals with every theater company.
The playwright and director, Greg Hatfield, is no slouch, either. For years, he was a writer, actor and director in Dr. Browndog’s Monkeytime, a theatrical comedy troupe in Cincinnati. His other plays have been performed by companies in Cincinnati, Kansas City, Syracuse and Pittsburgh.
Tickets are now on sale at https://www.cincinnatiarts.org/events/detail/cpi-ghost-girl or the Aronoff Box Office. Tickets are $10.00. There is another play, The Ghost Girl by Ariel Rodgers, also performed that night.
My play, The Great Stalinski, will be given a reading by the Pittsburgh New Works Reading Series, on Monday, November 5.
The Reading Series will be be held at Higher Voice Studios, 144 E Main St, Carnegie, PA 15106, at 7:00 p.m. Their website is https://pittsburghnewworks.org/reading-series/
The Great Stalinski was selected as a finalist for the Pittsburgh New Works Festival in 2018, but just didn’t make the final cut of 18 produced plays. Out of hundreds of submissions, my play and about 39 others were finalists. The Reading Series is taking the plays that didn’t make it and giving them a reading over the course of the winter with local actors.
Of course I’m thrilled to be included.
The Great Stalinski is a personal favorite of my plays, as it started what I call “The Cabot Trilogy.” Let me explain: The play is about the third generation of Cabot actors who are gathered together for the funeral the “World’s Greatest Shakespearean Actor,” Gregor Stalinski. Brothers Jack and Monty and sister Veronica Cabot were close to Stalinski (especially Veronica) and they meet up at Jack’s theater to travel together to the funeral. The Cabots are theater royalty and the play is really a fun piece about theater history and fame.
So after writing it, that got me to thinking about the other generations of Cabots and I wrote a play about Jack, Monty and Veronica’s parents called Three Sisters in Repertory. I love that play. The characters are great. We meet Charles Cabot, their father, and three sisters, Virginia, Eve and Roz Fleming. I’m guessing that one of them becomes their mother. Again, theater history is evident as scenes are played from Pygmalion, Hamlet and The Importance of Being Earnest.
So I had to write a play about the First Generation of Cabots and I wrote the first act of what would become The Cabots of Broadway, where we meet Kate and John Cabot, who start the whole family on a theatrical career.
Act Two is Three Sister in Repertory and Act Three is The Great Stalinski. I’m really proud of this play and have been sending it out religiously.
As always, my plays are on New Play Exchange. I’m sorry more of you can’t see or read the plays just yet, but I’m working on it. It’s hard work.
So, if you’re a fan of my blog (and maybe you should be), I’ve discovered that earlier in the month a couple of playwrights on the New Play Exchange, where I host my plays hoping that someone will read them and want to produce them, have read my play, The Ten Minute Play (with a Nice Picture of Jimmy Carter).
I am thrilled to say that both liked the play very much and have written some wonderful comments about that are posted on my New Play Exchange profile.
Here’s what they said: