The Blog Resumes (Reflections on Closing Andy as Locally Grown Continues…)

Hard to believe it is 4 full weeks since the close of ANDY AND THE SHADOWS and not a peep from the blog here. No weepy goodbyes to the most personal of shows; no exhilarated announcements of pressing forward with the next workshop presentation or reports from an equally intense rehearsal process from Locally Grown anchor production #2, THE HAMPTON YEARS.

How to explain the blog-o-silence? Well, one of our primary bloggers is rehearsing THE HAMPTON YEARS — that would be Shirley Serotsky, who’s now got a gorgeous production to present to the world as final previews wrap up tonight in advance of tomorrow night’s final Opening Night of the season. Here are a few pix from Jacqueline Lawton’s world premiere production:

Crashonda Edwards and Julian Elijah Martinez are Samella Lewis and John Biggers in The Hampton Years - all photos by C. Stanley Photography

Crashonda Edwards and Julian Elijah Martinez are Samella Lewis and John Biggers in The Hampton Years – all photos by C. Stanley Photography

Lolita Marie (background) and Crashonda Edwards

Lolita Marie (background) and Crashonda Edwards

Crashonda Edwards and Sasha Olinick

Crashonda Edwards and Sasha Olinick

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The production has allowed for a spirited involvement of the playwright Jacqueline Lawton and her production dramaturg, Otis Ramsey-Zoe and the rewrites have been coming in all month long — assiduous cuts and clarifications, refinements and structural dynamic punch-ups, and in one case, the birth of a dance, thrilling, illuminating and utterly surprising to all of us who learned about its inclusion into the play some two weeks into the rehearsal process!

And so while we find ourselves hip deep in all matters Hampton, we’re now decompressing from the active month that saw us cast, in full, complete casts for our 6 new productions this season.  From the confirming of Rick Foucheux to close out our season as Dr. Sigmund Frued in Mark St. Germain’s FREUD’S LAST SESSION, to the selection of the wonderful Baltimore based actress Susan_Rome_SmallSusan Rome as this season’s Associate Artist in residence (appearing back-to-back in our first two productions of the season, Amy Herzog’s AFTER THE REVOLUTION and Alezandra Gersten Vassilaros’s THE ARGUMENT), the season features amazing artists battling it out in one of our theater’s most pointed, dynamic, thematically probing seasons in our history.  Over 350 actors seen over the 5 weeks and 23 days of auditions — enough to make the eye glaze over? Not a chance! The actors are simply too talented; the plays too good; the stakes too high. Enough to make the butt and back ache?  Well, that’s a different story.  That’s why we bought exercise balls for home and office, and a first bicycle in 20 years!  Because that much audition monitoring will play havoc with one’s physical comportment (not to mention the frequency of one’s blogging).

And speaking of wonderful artists, we have 7 new spectacular illustrations to share with you, each promoting a different show for the season, each brought to vivid and dramatic life by our returning graphic artist, Greg Ferrand.  See the full line-up of shows here.

Two other reasons to account for our radio silence:

* The wonderful line-up of Locally Grown: Community Supported Art workshop readings  that have been happening both in our theater, our library and our Ann Loeb Bronfman Gallery over the past 6 weeks.  We’ve had terrific, and terrifically attended readings of Ally Currin’s THE RETURN TO LATIN, Ernie Joselovitz’s BACKSTAGE, Liz Maestri’s HOUSE BEAUTIFUL, Randy Baker’s THE MONASTARY, with two more readings still to come. Each event has been preceded by workshop rehearsals, pre-rehearsal table readings, and plenty of advance discussion between the writers, their directors and dramaturgs and our artistic staff, pointing to the game-changing investment and impact that Locally Grown is having on our theater.

To read more about Locally Grown and how it’s changing the face of new play development in this city, check out last weekend’s Washington Post feature by Nelson Pressley.

* And speaking of readings, what an extraordinary season highlight we all savored on May 13, the night of our annual Theater J benefit when we presented an all-star reading of Nora and Delia Ephron’s LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT I WORE directed by Eleanor Holdridge and featuring the most amazing ensemble of women assemble-able in this town (see below)!
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The benefit was a total delight, a total financial success, and worthy of its own multi-volume scrapbook in order to pay homage to everyone who made such a success possible. Our flicker page gives a sense of the gorgeous set up, the delectable dinner and desert lavishly prepared and presented by Provisions Catering courtesy of founder and new Council member, Bunny Dwin, as it also shows all the merriment experienced by our overflow audience of supporters. So check out all the photos from the event here.

All this by way of saying, it was hard for us to find the time to reflect back on the close of ANDY… I’m still doing final embellishments on the script (after some weeks away from it) which I’m soon to send back out into the world. Suffice to say, it was the best collaborative experience I’ve had as a playwright at Theater J, which is saying a lot, but then so did the play!

Perhaps our stage manager, Roy Gross, put it all into perspective with this rather exclamatory video he put together for the show’s closing. It’s the unpoignant way of going out with a bang!

First, click on this video to appreciate the set that went up and how wonderfully it came together.

Then click here to see how traumatically it all came to a close!