Friday, January 22, 2010

[title of show], SpeakEasy Stage Company

That's what it's called... [title of show].  Don't worry, I was confused too.  It's the latest production from the SpeakEasy Stage Company here in Boston at the Calderwood Pavillion in the South End.  I saw a performance this past Wednesday night at the Roger's Theater within the Calderwood, a cozy little black box type perfect for the production.  It played to a full house on a Wednesday night at the "Pay What You Can" night.  It cost me nothing due to the kindness of a stranger with an extra ticket - thanks Hal, wherever you are!

[title of show] is a ninety minute one act musical written by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell.  It was first performed in 2006 off Broadway and eventually made it to Broadway with its last performance in 2008.  The latest incarnation stars Jordan Ahnquist, Amy Barker, Joe Lanza, Will McGarrahan, Val Sullivan although the original starred the writer and composer as themselves.  The small cast pulled it together to create a high energy performance full of laughs from start to finish.  The set is minimal using only four rolling chairs and a few lighting tricks with music provided by a single onstage keyboardist who also has a few lines of dialogue to deliver.  One of the things I liked best about the production was the minimalist feel. It brought me closer to the characters and their struggle to make their dreams a reality in the competitive New York theater environment.

The play was written in a little under a month initially for entry into a New York theater competition and since has been expanded with each new run.  The script evolves as the experiences of the writers do with the play - it's a play about writing a play essentially. As I understand it, with each new run, the most current events surrounding the evolution of the show are incorporated into the script.  For example, the latest version that I saw here in Boston incorporates their Tony Award nomination as well as their winning several Obie Awards.  It's a fascinating concept that has yielded some entertaining results - a theater version of a reality TV show.  You can follow their trials and tribulations on their blog with video entries by the show's originators.

It's worth seeing if you love Broadway.  There are tons of obscure theater references and lots of inside jokes that make the performers giggle a little too.  I laughed out loud many times over the course of the evening and I even felt a little inspired to pursue my dreams as the writers of [title of show] did, essentially creating something out of nothing.  The run here in Boston ends on February 13 of this year before moving onto a couple of other US cities.

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