Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Free Black Ship Co. show tonight! (Neverendia)


I hate to sound like I am in a rush, but I am busy viewpointing in the Loop!

Do you want a couple free tickets to Chicago's hot new theatre company's show tonight?

Read this letter and then go and see this play tonight!

Dear America,
So you'd like us to throw an industry night? Where Chicago theater people of all stripes can come see Foreverendia & have the cockles of their hearts warmed in a wintery wonderland? You probably want it to be totally free too, huh? Seems legit. We'd like to announce right here below Eric & Andy heady mix of complementary & hostile blogging that we'll be holding an industry night on Wednesday, December 5th at 8:00 pm. You can learn more about the show here: and feel free to get friendly with us here: Tickets are free & available on a first come first serve basis. Just shoot an email to letting us know how many seats you'd like to reserve. Hope to see you there!

Hunter Koerner
Artistic Director and Prince of The Black Ship Company

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Mikado (The Hypocrites) John Taflan

As some day it may happen that an opera must be viewed,
Put this one on your list:
Mikado by the ‘crites.
A fantastic compilation of the bawdy and skewed
In a promenade-y mist
(and there’s booze, if you insist).

Just enter Chopin’s basement and you’ll join a festive throng,
Whose tendency to strum and strut makes right from so much wrong.
(By “wrong” I mean your standard theatre most often passes
As arguments o’er kitchen sinks, four walls, and seats for asses.)
But never mind my bitching, Go!  This play should not be missed.
Put your name upon the list,
(Something something) coexist.

Put your name upon the list!
(Something something) coexist!
In their audience, enlist.
I think you get the gist.

There’s Casey--that’s her family name--and little Shawny Pfautsch
Both pulling double shifts
(That almost rhymed with “list”).
Singing/acting all while playing isn’t for your common slouch,
But two parts each?  That kissed?
A fine quadruple tryst.

When Kahler speaks you cannot help but laugh until you keen.
And Rob McLean was being quite especially Rob McLean…you know what I mean.
Both Bourque and Pawlik’s spunk (along with Schroeder’s) is in season,
And of the girls, I’ll mention Dana Omar for no reason.
Forgive me, Becky and Christine, for I could not resist.
It’s another brilliant twist
From the awesome Hypocrites.

It’s another brilliant twist!
From the awesome Hypocrites!
Sean and Kevin still persist.

The Mikado:  A

-John Taflan

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Black Ship Co. is the NEXT BIG THING!

In our lives, we have seen so many theatre companies come and go. Some with great fanfare like Defiant, and some with only a whisper, like Birdbrain Theatre Company.

We loved Birdbrain’s all Asian homosexual take on Oklahoma. Risky. “Okrahomo” was ahead of it’s time.

But what happens in our lovely bubble when a company comes along, does two shows and 1 YouTube video and literally no one has ever heard of them?

Usually, they die a horrible and quick death in the basement of the Athenaeum, but this one...this time it is different because a theatre company has come along and stolen our hearts and imaginations. We have never been as excited for a new theatre company to prove themselves as we are with...

THE BLACK SHIP CO. At least that’s what we think they are called.

Their website doesn’t really describe much of anything, but there are pictures of guys with cardboard swords and blanket capes and the font is pretty awesome.

After reading a third of their website, the back of one of their postcards, and watching the first 45 seconds of their YouTube video, we were convinced. The Black Ship Co. is about to go supernova all over Chicago’s sweet, sweet ass!

Who are these people?
Remember how The House came along and everyone went crazy? And then Strange Tree came and everyone was like “These guys are like the new House except more character based”? Well, we are here to tell you that Black Ship Co. is the new Strange Tree except more blanket based.

We’ve been waiting for a theatre company to come along that seems like they are nice, and not just a bunch of dicks like The Dick Theater Company. Fuck those dudes.

And to prove to you how nice they are, we are gonna ask The Black Ship Co. to have a night where all Chicago Theatre people can come and see their play. We think that would be very fair of them.

Do you think they will even read this?

You know that they will. We are kingmakers and insane secessionists who believe that Obama is controlling the mole people who live in the subways.

So if you see the Black Ship Co. around town, please let them know that we are looking for them because we have never even met them or anything, but we are pretty sure that they are going to be the best theatre in town.

We love you Black Shape Inc.! We know that you are Chicago’s wake up call! Now, give us your women!

You have 24 hours to respond to this blog post or you will indefinitely lose our favor and thus destroying your future successes and standing in this community, Block Shin Corp.


SHOW YOUR FACES, BLACK SHIP!!!! Or we will board you like Somalian pirates. And then leave you in shambles, scurrying to pick up your crayons and sniff markers.

Please just respond to us. We are sorry we said those things.

Oh, baby, you know how we get at the’s a mink stole and an Escalade, my sweetness.

Just think about it ok?

A+ (if you respond in 24 hours)

-Eric Roach & Anderson Lawfer & Black Ship Co.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Macbeth: As The Dust Settles - TheMASSIVE (dance/theater review)

TheMASSIVE’s Macbeth: As the Dust Settles places the tragedy in the devastated and barren American Dust Bowl. As director and TheMASSIVE’s Executive Artistic Director Kyle Vincent Terry writes in his Director’s Note, “In feudal Scotland, the push was for control of land, as land is power. But, what denotes power when the land is barren?” Quite a question, I thought, piqued by how this production would use Macbeth to provoke ideas about mankind’s lust for power, even when there is little to behold.

The characterization of the Weird Sisters is something I often look forward to when sitting down to Macbeth, and TheMASSIVE’s ghoulish ladies (Alain Sharp, Grace Desant, Jennifer Becker, Jenny Maceika, Kate Puckett and Katie Burrows) are intrusively eerie and alluring. The 7 raven-haired “Ghost Dancers” - all near the same height, their skin the same pallid tone - shriek like banshees in a tribal keening over their lost men, and then cackle and hiss as they deliver their notorious prophesy for Macbeth. The Ghost Dancers quickly establish themselves as a catalyst for the misery and destruction of those vying for power.

Enter Macbeth (Shawn Wilson), a Yukon Cornelius type who doesn’t seem to want to hurt a fly, but an Everyman who just wants to get home after a long day of work for a shot of whiskey, chunk of brisket and to listen to his stories on a transistor radio. Baffled by his foretold greatness, he approaches the well-to-do, magnanimous Duncan (Kyle Vincent Terry) with a kind of cautious reverence, aware of what malicious deeds he must achieve to fulfill his destiny. Duncan’s wealth and status in Scott City - coveted by all and the lynchpin for Macbeth and his Lady’s ambitions - is left undefined and vague, as we are not in Scotland fighting over reign, but in Scott City, Kansas in the 1930’s Dust Bowl. Still, our suspension of disbelief allows us to feel the tension, especially with Aila Peck as the relentlessly venomous Lady Macbeth, her style and demeanor capturing both the 1930s era as well as the classic Lady-Macbeth-spiral-into-insanity we all anxiously await.

As stated in his director’s note, Kyle Vincent Terry seeks to explore how “abject poverty often leads to the proliferation of two things, crime and religion” - and his re-imagining of Macbeth certainly strikes those two chords. Throughout the play, Hecate (Raquel Adorno) saunters about, raising her Bible, singing melancholic hymns, her gutteral voice harkening us back to sinister revivalist religion. Pair that with the grainy sound of body after body dragged along a dirt-covered stage and you got yourself some real ambiance. Replacing bloodshed with mud and sand, Terry makes visceral the foul filth of corruption in a desperate futile town.

True to Shakespearean form, things get wild in Act III. When Macbeth meets up to conspire against Banquo (Niall McGinty) - we see the ginger-bearded, bald-headed Yukon Cornelius suddenly turn into Walter White, Season 3 of Breaking Bad - the mad, tortured criminal with everything at stake. Naturally, I started to view the rest of the performance through this lense, particularly the legendary banquet scene when Banquo’s ghost rises and Lady Macbeth/Skylar White struggles to contain her deranged husband. The second half of the performance is riddled with rich moments - Lady Macduff (Mary-Kate Arnold) struggling for her life against the stoic-yet-vicious Lennox (David Russell), Malcom (Michael Allen Harris) conspiring with Macduff (Michael Jay Bullaro) - both with such casual, conversational Shakespearean delivery, while a co-conspirator sits alongside peeling a hard-boiled egg and belching. And of course, the climactic riling up of the whole gang to raise hell against Macbeth and reclaim Malcom’s reign.

I left the theatre tossing over all sorts of questions, and wishing TheMASSIVE had fleshed out the 1930’s Dust Bowl context to connect and supplement the traditional text, as the clamoring for power, security and right to live resounds tremendously from that era. Far from a Shakespeare purist, I am intrigued when theatre companies such as TheMASSIVE transpose his plays to resonate with modern audiences, and I look forward to seeing more bold choices from this innovative company.

-Elizabeth Schmeski

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Why You Should Vote For Mitt Romney

I know what you’re thinking just from the title:

Why would these guys vote for Mitt Romney? Why would they try to convince others to do the same?

Well, it’s a pretty simple reason, actually. Over these past couple years, we have been so over exposed to this man, to this American Leader, to continuously hear what he stands for and what he lies about, it has become extremely challenging to not have an opinion of his supporters.

So, unless you are a multimillionaire, why would you vote for Mitt Romney? There are 2 reasons.

#1 is because you haven’t taken the time to learn anything about the candidates, and he has a relaxing and confident demeanor. Mitt has used rhetoric that is nice to hear and promises to “bring manufacturing jobs” back to America!

#2 is because you are a horrible racist.

You might say, “Well maybe I will vote for Mitt because I am a fiscal conservative, I think we are spending too freely and we should leave much of these issues up to the individual states!”

You might say that. In 1988, you might say that.

But let us propose a NEW reason for your vote for Mitt Romney!

If you are reading this blog, you are undoubtedly under 60 years old, and will survive (God willing) for another 4 years without any major health scares.

So if Mitt wins, what will happen to your family?

Well, you will probably incur some health care bills, and your taxes and gasoline will probably slightly rise with inflation. You will probably be just fine. Nothing will go too crazy for you or your way of life.

BUT, for the elderly people who vote for him? The people who have voted against their own well being because they simply cannot stand the site of a Black Muslim as the POTUS?
They will not be well. They will be denied coverage for their throat cancer. They will pay $40,000 a year for their diabetes medicine. Their houses will be taken from them by the same states they wanted to give power to, and will be denied a stay in the last-resort-state-run nursing home, because it has simply become too expensive for them and their families.

The manufacturing jobs these people have been waiting for will never return, leaving these poor uneducated white people without prospects or any life skills to help them obtain a steady income or any avenue to a more hopeful future. They will say how they have been “lied to” and that they thought the millionaire country singers had their best interests at heart.

While they have been denied any access to the medicine they now need to counter the growing throat tumor that has slowly started closing their esophagus, they will wander the streets in their diabetic blindness, looking for a handout from a compassionate person. They will duck in to the last remaining Mom and Pop pharmacy or small business grocery store, asking for help of any kind.

“Anything you can do for me, friend, will be greatly appreciated.”  

But they will not have any friends and it would have been greatly appreciated, but helping others is finished in America. They will need to steal some leaves or tire rubber from the City Garbage Fire to try to keep themselves warm from the night and to hide out from the drifting Rape Gangs that are looking for a nubile young woman to impregnate. (Now that abortion has been outlawed in all cases, Rape Gangs have become the only affordable health care providers for women under 40. But they still like to rape old ladies, too.)

As our elderly Romney fan hides out from these Rape Gangs for the night, sleeping in the gutter that their Grandparents built with taxpayer dollars, their breathing will start to slow down and soon, they will die alone in the cold cold air, surrounded by no one. Stubborn in the fact that they made the right decision because the nice men on FoxNews, the ones who have their best interest at heart and $2000 suits, have told them so.

They will die in the gutter, and with the new privatized waste system, their body will decay until they are unidentifiable. The only clue for one of our last 4 publicly paid detectives will be the EpiPen from 2 years ago, and a Romney/Ryan 2012 bumper sticker that could have gone on the car they couldn’t afford.

So if you are like me, and you have dealt with images of these Tea Partiers chanting in the streets about Communism and Freedom and Liberty and Supporting Our Troops, then you are probably ready to watch these poor old pieces of trash die extremely painful deaths as well.

So go out there and vote for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan so the people that have been voting against their own interests will finally get what they deserve:

To die alone in the privatized streets like the worthless mindless hillbillies they are!

-Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I appreciate theatre experiences in unexpected spaces. Especially those that allow me to drink to my heart’s content. And that feature ferocious talent, audience participation and glowsticks. All of these - and more - were satisfied at Underscore Theatre’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Under the brazen direction of Alex Higgins-Houser, Rocky Horror explodes from the catwalk of O’Malley’s Liquor Kitchen, and although there will remain only one performance by the time this review posts - Underscore Theatre’s live incarnation of the cult classic is not to be missed, and ought to be around for Chicago Halloween’s to come.

This cast puts out. Not only are they grinding - occasionally half-naked - up on a raised platform in the middle of a Wrigleyville bar, surrounded by spider web and demonic clown Halloween decor - but they perform the hell out of Richard O’Brien’s sexy, sci-fi, monster musical. Mere moments into “Science Fiction/Double Feature,” the three saucy Usherettes (Miki Byrne, Jillian Mayer, and Brittany Shock) led by the electric Magenta (Leah Isabel Tirado) entice us like cyberpunk Sirens into the world of Rocky Horror, welcoming shoutbacks and singing along. Now, The Rocky Horror Pictures Show has had a following of fishnet stockings-wearing, toast-throwing, rubber glove-snapping fans since midnight screenings started in New York City some thirty-six years ago - and their descendents are certainly present in the crowd at O’Malley’s. But for those of us with a lipstick letter “V” on our foreheads, Underscore Theatre provides a Virgin’s Guide to shoutbacks in their program, and offers $5 Prop Bags to encourage audience participation and “enhance pleasure.” In short, whether you’re a Rocky Horror virgin or seasoned deviant - all are welcome “Over at the Frankenstein Place.”

And new to the bizarre abode of Dr. Frank-N-Furter arrives the recently engaged, Brad Majors (Joe Zordan) and Janet Weiss (Sarah Hoch), who radiate the campy, virginal charm we expect and enjoy from the two characters around which this mad, dark world unfolds. Much credit is due to Zordan and Hoch, and not only for their stellar singing voices and comedic timing - but for their willingness to take off their clothes. Perhaps I’m overly self-conscious and cannot help but project myself into what it’s like having my fellow cast members strip me to my skivvys...but something about it puts anxiety in my imagination. And yet, I keep an appreciation laced with envy for the uninhibited joy of performing each and every Rocky Horror actor brings to this production. And it is a pleasure to behold.

As narrated by the eerily omniscient Criminologist (Harrison Gibbons), Janet and Brad are introduced to the Transylvanians, who wait with heaving breaths and maniacal smiles as the two approach, eager to corrupt them with their rambunctious revelry. As one might expect, “The Time Warp” becomes a jubilant dance party for all, led by the lovably crazed Riff Raff (Chad Michael Innis) and featuring a delightful tap dance from the bubbly, vivacious Columbia (Lianne Rodriguez). Riff Raff and his sister Magenta’s (Tirado) chemistry throughout the show pulses with such mischief and curious sexuality that I wished there existed a B-story of their relationship. But the true knave of the show is in Dr. Frank-N-Furter, who enters through the audience, stirring cat-calls and applause. And justly so. Anthony D’Amato demands the room in his “I Heart Chik-Fil-a” shirt, lace-up knee-highs, and dangling back-pocket hanky - crooning and shrieking and positively alluring.

To be frank, most of the story was lost on me, having only seen the film once. But I didn’t really care. Only vaguely recalling what Dr. Frank-N-Furter was doing with his creation, Rocky Horror (Jonas Davidow), I was a bit confused, but thoroughly enjoyed Davidow’s audacious dancing and upper body strength. Both Eddie (Aaron Stephenson) and Dr. Everett Scott’s (Dustin Rothbart) stories are mysteries to me, but damn could those fellas sing. Though at times the chatter in the bar made it hard to hear the actors, the cast held up, invested and vibrant, every one of them. And when it comes down to it, that’s what you come to The Rocky Horror Picture Show for - wild, raunchy, unabashed fun.

The final performance of Underscore Theatre’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show is next Wednesday, October 31st. Tickets are $29 and includes a drink package from 8-11PM. Attend this rousing holiday treat, and if not - better hope Underscore’s production becomes a Chicago Halloween staple for years to come.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Woman In White (Lifeline Theatre Company)

Let me preface this review with a little warning:
If you like to look at women’s legs, this is probably not the play for you.

Personally, I can do without legs for 3 hours, so this show was a great fit for me.

Lifeline Theater has a long history of turning long books into long plays and this time they really hit it out of the park!

Let’s start with a long synopsis of the classic “The Woman In White”. The Woman In White is the first modern mystery ever written. It was very popular in 1859 and was written by the legendary Wilkie Collins. The story centers on this girl named Laura and her art teacher, Walter. And her sister?

Well, Laura falls in love with Walter ( a valiant and artistic Nicholas Bailey), but since Walter is poor, she has to marry this guy played by the Acting Robot and Eldritch God of Dialect Robert Kauzlaric. I forgot his character’s name, but he is the bad guy, I think. Then there is this other guy from either Scotland or Italy and all these rats in birdcages on a stick was there, too. That guy was played with great gayness by Christopher Walsh.

Now before you get all uppity about the word “gayness”, let me explain what I mean. If you are on the Jeff Committee, and you are watching an old timey play, the gayer the dudes act, the better the play is. So if you are playing a guy who wears a cape and rings and you have huge monologues that go nowhere, than you better put a little bit of wiggle in those big manly hips of yours. Christopher Walsh shakes those hips with the confidence of a 19 year old twink.

Our woman in white in this production is played with great attractiveness by Maggie Scrantom. This kid has it all. At first you think she is someone else because she is acting like somebody sewed her hands on backwards, but then you are like, “Oh, thank God her hands are on right. She was just doing that Brad Pitt crazy person hands thing.”

A note for actors: All crazy people have no control over their hands.

There is a goofy Frenchman named Louis (played with rawkus hilarity by Greg Wenz), there is a bossy sister (the deliberate and handsome Lucy Carapetyan) and a few different old guys (the always incredible and never bending Don Bender).

BUT, let me tell you where the real acting is in this show. There are 2 women who play 30 characters combined. They are the maids, the housekeepers, the church clerks, the mothers, the wives, and they might have even played the mice in the birdcages! Loretta Rezos and Anita Deely have a super hard job in this show, and they do an incredible job.

When you do plays like this, most theatre goers spend all their time trying to bang the leads, but we actors, we know where the honey is. It’s with the actors who play all the roles that need to be played. You can’t just trust those to anyone, and in my opinion, you save those roles for the most talented actors you can find. Anybody can play a screaming lady or a guy with a mustache, but not everyone can make each of their 6 characters diverse and believable and unrecognizable from the last.

If you are an actor, The Woman In White is a good play to see because it is a Master’s Class in this sort of stuff.

I learned a lot about England and I also had some cookies in their beautiful lobby!

Don’t miss this great show that will keep you thinking about what is happening and who the real killer is!!


-Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Eric & Andy's DEBATE SHOW

Did you watch the debates at home alone last night?

Did you just watch Home Alone?

Well why don’t you quit being a ding-a-ling, get off your buns, and join Eric and Andy for their first ever Eric and Andy’s DEBATE SHOW!!

Life is made to be lived, and what better way to live then with America’s new favorite Political Pundits!!?

More like America’s new favorite Political FUNdits!

We are ready to host the 2nd Presidential Debate at Strawdog Theater on Tuesday October 16th!!

The doors will open at 7pm. At 7:30pm, we will discuss the rules of various games we will be playing during live coverage of the debate.

Immediately following the debate, stick around for our own town hall meeting to discuss the direction of our country and what Medicare is.


A $5 suggested donation at the door will get you $3 PBR TALLBOYS and some of Strawdog’s famous craft beer menu items!

Why sit at home and weep into your hot dog soup? Come and join your heroes and weep into your BEER SOUP.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Dirty (The Gift Theatre Company)

 Life can be overwhelming sometimes.
Especially in the Fall. As theatre people, Fall is usually our busiest time and we are all finishing planning our seasons and trying to book our final Spring shows. So, it has taken me a while to write about this play I saw a couple weeks ago called “Dirty” out at The Gift.

Not because I didn’t like it. I, in fact, REALLY liked it. The acting is great. 

But here's the thing:
This kid Michael Patrick Thornton has it all going on for him. He is a handsome TV star, so he doesn’t care what I think about it. Tom Hickey is in it, and he is always awesome, so HE doesn’t care what I think. The great Jon Berry directed, and the now hugely popular Andrew Hinderaker wrote it, so they could care less about my opinion, so it makes it harder for me to even get into it, because these 4 dudes are at the fucking TOP OF THE GAME.      

You all know it, too. You KNOW this play is good. It is an act too long. The story gets a little too complicated…whatever. It’s awesome and you all know it already without even seeing it.

The play is about making porno movies. See, the main couple likes to watch porno movies. The dude (Thornton) is unhappy with his life as a stock broker or something and his wife (the robust and comely Hillary Clemens) is a struggling…I wanna say…Not-For-Profit…Women’s shelter worker? Something like that. So the guy decides he hates his job and wants to start a porno movie company. The wife says she will help, but they have to have rules about the movies they make. No schoolgirl fantasies, nobody under 25, basically she doesn’t want these movies to have anything in them that makes you want to watch a porno.

If it was up to ladies, all of our porno movies would be middle aged women getting butt massages from Adrian Brody in a cake factory.

So this broad tries to get Mike Thornton to get down with this idea and of course he says yes because if your wife is letting you make porn, you have to agree to her rules, no matter how stupid they may be.

So then this lady (the Guatemalan and electrifying Mouzam Makkar) shows up who wants to be in the porno movies and she is only 20 years old.

Then it gets super complicated.

All the actors are awesome, of course. You know it and I know it. They are all probably better than you are.

Michael Patrick Thornton. Do you know about this guy? Of course you do. He’s great. His best quality though, is that he acts like he doesn’t care if anyone is there watching or not. Super relaxed, very casual. That is a cool trait to have in this city of stupid improvisers who cry if you don’t laugh at them because something went terribly wrong in their home life.

Anyway, you already want to see it, so go already. It is a very, very good play.


-Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Interview with Louisville Legends Scott Davis and Joey Arena (Alley Theater of Louisville)

About a year ago, Eric and I had a chance to go down to my old Kentucky home and meet with the men who made my life choice of being an actor seem reasonable.
In high school, I became involved in the now REfunct Alley Theater Company.
The stars of the theatre are not only incredible artists, but they also became my mentors and truthfully, are still my heroes to this day.
Scott Davis and Joey Arena were invaluable in my teenage years. Teaching me how to make plays and smoke Marlboros, the importance of coffee and Caryl Churchill.
Today, the new Alley Theater won a couple awards from Leo Magazine, a popular Liberal rag down in Louisville.
Here is our interview for your perusal and enjoyment!

*Please remember the shows they are plugging are from a year ago, but feel free to check out the Alley website here.
Louisville Theatre Forever!  

Hi guys! Thanks for having us down here to Louisville for a visit to your new theater!

Scott Davis-Thanks for coming. So, what do you want?

Is there some sort of vending machine in your theater?  I could use a Grape Nehi.

Joey Arena: I’ll send the Stage Manager out for one.

That would be grape! So, tell me dudes, I haven’t seen you for almost 15 years. What is this new Alley Theater about?

SD-Well, a lot has changed since you were here.  We actually try to hire actors instead of teenagers who can’t get into drama club productions

JA: Ouch!  We also aren’t building sets out of cardboard anymore.  Well, not very often anyhow.

If you build sets out of cardboard in Chicago, they call you a genius and give you a job at the Court Theater!

JA: We were just ahead of our time, not poor, right?

SD-Actually, since we’re older now we’re hoping to be more on the curve than ahead of it.

                                                                               Scott Davis on a Wednesday

Scott, when you started the Alley, how old were you, and what made you decide to set up in Louisville?

SD- Honestly, I had work back in LA, but I’d married an Australian girl who made a lot of enemies in LA and didn’t want to go back.  So, I was kinda stuck here and no one was doing the kind of shows I wanted to do and another internship with ATL just didn’t appeal.  I was 25.

Had you and Joey been friends for a long time before that?

JA: We had both been hearing for years (while in high school mind you) “You remind me of Scott Davis”.. “You should meet Joey Arena, you guys are so much alike”.. and then back in 1985 we finally ran into each other at the premiere of David Lynch’s ‘Dune’ at the Showcase Theater.  And we’d been friends ever since.  So when the Alley came along, Scott came back from LA, and we happened to run into each other again, I climbed aboard.

That’s great.  You know, a lot of really wonderful partnerships came out of people bonding over
the terribleness of David Lynch’s DUNE.  I think that’s how Seals and Crofts got together.

JA: Let’s not forget Shields and Yarnell.

SD-I want to do Lidsville the musical!

When I first came around, you were auditioning for 2 kids to play Siamese twins in Joey Arena’s play “Prometheus J. Dunn’s Jubilee Circus Sideshow”.

JAL Oh god.  That show was terrible.  I actually haven’t written another play since out of shame. Weren’t you like 15 or 16 Andy?

That play might have been terrible to you, but it opened my eyes to a new way of making theatre. When you are in high school, you think all plays are like A Christmas Carol, and that everyone is jerks and that all directors are old guys with beards and berets. But when I came to audition, I was 14 years old and you guys were smoking cigarettes in an old storefront warehouse.

SD- Nah, we just did it to get a 14 year old boy in a dress for gay pride week

JA: Well, that’s awesome!  It was, I suppose, a leap from productions with money and rules.. we did what we wanted (well, at that time, mostly what Scott wanted.. he was the one with the vision of the theater) and however we could and thought was best.  We still sort of do that here.. but now we try to actually make enough to pay the actors and support ourselves.  Our choice of material is still “a little off center”.. in fact we revamped (pardon the pun) “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom” about a year and a half ago.

SD-Did you see Point Break Live up there?

Well, with paying your actors and supporting yourselves, you guys are ahead of about 98% of Chicago storefront theatre in general.  How would you describe Andy’s acting style?

SD-It’s been a while, but his style fit in with what we were doing at the time.  Depending on who was heading a show Andy could take direction.  Or, if he was working with someone like me, was comfortable being told to trust himself and make it up as he goes along.--And never forget to speak over the actors that suck and if another actor goes up on his lines to look them dead in the face and say “and...?”  Seriously though, the base for the work was happening at the same time as a lot of the Twyla Tharp theater adapting (Anne Bogart’s Viewpoints) where the work really came from the actors.  He was comfortable playing and fun to work with.

JA: As I recall, he took direction well, but needed LOTS of it!  Very enthusiastic, and mildly spastic.  A comedic director’s dream really.  He was VERY funny.

                                                                  Joey Arena after his first marriage

One time, we were doing  Caryl Churchill’s Cloud 9 and I had what turned out to be pneumonia. I was a pretty heavy smoker when I was 15, so the coughing was miserable. One night, I was on stage (I played Joshua and Cathy) and I talked to Scott backstage and asked him what I should do. He told me to not believe that I had to cough. Well, it worked, and ever since then, whenever anything bad happens in my life...including paying bills or dealing with my employers, I have chosen to not believe it.

SD- Wow, I give terrible advice.  Sucker!

JA: Scott is a bit less Kung-Fu zen these days.

SD- I have kids.

So tell me what makes Louisville Theatre different from say, Chicago Theatre?

SD- Us..And you have Second City.

JA: I think we have more clearly defined niches for the theater groups here due to there being fewer of us.. We’re the “weird” theater, Centerstage is the “Musical” theater, Wayward is the “Theater about theater” theater... although with our current production of “Evil Dead: The Musical” we’re gunning for the Centerstage 80 year old musical theatergoer crowd :)

I love it.  I sometimes feel that there are too many companies in Chicago, and they all end up doing the same things...there will be multiple productions of the same plays all the time.  With a smaller market, it seems you guys can really stake your claim to what you want to do, rather than following some sort of trend.

SD- The niche we seem to be covering right now is doing shows that are fun and about entertaining the audience.  Most don’t even have a cleverly hidden message.  About half the shows include the line “the bar is open and the more you drink, the funnier we are”.

JA: Well, it’s not that we try to stake out an area really, so much as we do what we think needs to be done, or would be fun to do, and that sets us apart because we don’t ever decide that “Noises Off” or “Brigadoon” would be fun.

I have been thinking about the way I have theatre and it always comes back to you guys. Scott was a hard working dude, always painting and building and interested in talking about technique. Joey was a stand up comic, always with a hot chick on a motorcycle and had earrings and shit and liked to party. I have tried to balance both of those things and recreate both of you in one person. Are you guys still the Ying and Yang of each other in that respect?

SD- Pretty much.  Although in all fairness when putting a show together Joey is a lot more organized and focused on the way a show comes together than I am.  I still pretty much walk by with a hammer and yell notes out.

JA:  Yeah.. I’m the divorced partier who still rides a motorcycle and dates young girls, and Scott is a married father of 2 lovely monsters

SD- My kids think Joey is always right

JA: So in that regard not much has changed.  And our directing styles are still VASTLY different, but I think that’s why we’ve always worked well together.  I’m detail oriented and Scott is.. um... artistic.

I’d like to say that Joey puts together a mean case for divorce in that last answer.  Also, could I find out some more about Scott blowing himself?

JA: Which time?

SD- Uhm, it was blowing myself “up”.  The first time-yeah, first time-I was doing some pyro for my birthday party and someone had premixed some chemicals and put them back in  their original containers.  Very Hot explosion.  Ended up in the hospital having someone cut flesh of my arm and spent a couple of months having it trimmed and salted (tasted better that way)...
Kept most of my hair though.--Oh, it was my left arm.  I wasn’t dumb enough to light the bomb with my favored hand.

You guys sound like crazy people. So tell us what we have to look forward to at the Alley Theater this year and also, what are your favorite companies in Louisville?

SD- I am the most normal crazy person you will meet...My favorite companies in Louisville would have to be La Petomaine and Damaged Goods Improv.  As for our season.  It opens with Evil Dead, then it’s Hitchhiker’s Guide (radio shows) Star Wars in 60 or less, the Matrix-then after that we get serious and don’t do a movie for the next couple of months.  We do have an original piece called Hughesical the Musical about a bunch of GenXers who have based theire lives off of his movies.  And in March we have The InHuman: A Festival of New American Zombie Theater. Festival runs opposite Humana--My favorite theater company is out of New York-The Vampire Cowboys

JA: I’m a traditionalist.. I love Actor’s Theater and The Louisville Ballet.  We are also doing “Some Things You Need To Know Before The End Of The World (A Final Evening With The Illuminati)” at the end of this season..  And I’m touring Evil Dead as well.  (Know of a theater in Chicago that seats over 400 and doesn’t mind a few gallons of blood poured on their floor?)

I actually know a few theaters like that. We will talk about it. So guys, thanks for the visit. As we move forward in our explorations, we certainly hope to have you guys up to Chicago and I can host you in something that you have helped create. WHERE THE FUCK IS THE GRAPE SODA??

SD-We have Orange or Mogen David.

JA: I’ll fire the Stage Manager.


-Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach