Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The Deadly Penguins: Stage One
A couple of positive reviews, one from the local daily and one in The Synthesis, a local entertainment weekly (no link available). Unfortunately, the first two weekends were lightly attended, but the audiences were more than up to the challenge to make the actors feel validated.
And so with that and (hopefully) good word-of-mouth, tomorrow we go into the final weekend of the stage version of The Deadly Penguins, and it's been an interesting experience.
Interesting as in exhilarating and traumatic in equal measures. With a three week rehearsal process leading up 'til opening night, the first two weeks were smooth sailing.
As I've noted in earlier posts, I have an very intuitive cast... but that's underselling them. These folks are stellar. I prefer writing for and working with ensemble casts, and this one is the best one it's been my pleasure to work with.
Loki Miller and Erika Soerensen play Gordo the Canadian and Sister Virginia, the ostensible romantic leads. Ostensible because the play is a ensemble piece and isn't very romantic. And I forgot to write a scene where they kiss onstage. There is a moment where they can be heard bumpin' uglies offstage, but it's a brief moment. Very brief, to Sister Virginia's chagrin.
I love the above photo (courtesy of Wayne Pease). It evokes the old school publicity photos from back in the day, and nails the atmosphere of the genre itself. You can almost hear the sad, no-hope-left music playing in the background as they realize that... well, there's no fuckin' hope left.
Making his stage debut in The Deadly Penguins is local musician Mark Simmons as Laveau. Mark has been a spectacular find, and a pleasure to work with.
In the foreground is the steel drum that serves up the contents of the ever-popular inciting incident. Gordo and Laveau have been dispatched to arctic boonies to get rid of the inconvenient drum of biohazard. Unfortunately, they don't utilize a very eco-friendly way of disposing of the toxic waste: thermite.
A nasty green cloud unleashed from the explosion drifts across the icepack...
... and settles over a colony of cute li'l penguins. Even more unfortunately, the cloud contains Trioxin 245 (ahem) and a foul, foul rain falls on the fowls.
Cue the Scary Fanfare.
Meanwhile, back at the station...
Colin Brewer (l.) is on hand as the research station's military presence, Scottish Captain Folbrook. His primary function here is to try to destroy the penguins before they even seemingly pose a threat.
And with the phasing out of dog teams in the Antarctic, the station's handler/veterinarian Linux (Bill Saporito) has been promoted to bass doctor. Linux's function is to serve as the voice of reason, and to try to communicate with the birds.
We've all seen how this traditionally plays out for both of them.
Filling out the roster is Ollie, the ever-put upon Norwegian (Don Eggert) and Murdock, the god-damned annoying Texan (the character, not actor Winston Colgan). That's the great part of being a writer... you can bag on anyone and everyone and call it comedy.
There's also Sabrina Schloss, who drops by the remote station in various roles... but I don't have an image of her.
But here's one of me trying to figure out how to do an emergency rewrite and reblock the Second Act of the show, four days before opening...
I think I'm trying to channel Ernie Kovacs... but getting a busy signal.