Sunday, November 25, 2012

Restoration Comedy: Let's Have a Sneak Peek!

I got the privilege to attend the second tech run of The Flea’s upcoming production of Restoration Comedy by Amy Freed and directed by Ed Sylvanus Iskandar. My sneak peek of the huge production began with a backstage tour and getting some insight from the artists involved that are bringing the play to life. My journey began as places were called for the pre-show with scenic designer Julia Noulin-Mérat as my guide. She took me around the three floored theater and introduced me to various parties involved to get some insight on the project. After some conversations, she took me to my seat and let me take in the pre-show. This was the first time the company had attempted the pre-show entertainment in costume. Actors were mulling around while other company members played period inspired music. The design team puts some finishing touches on their respected designs.
The pre-show reflects the restoration period atmosphere, but there was one element missing from the test-drive I was at: the booze. Audience members who attend Restoration Comedy will be greeted with some complementary libations. And you’ll be encouraged to fill up every opportunity you have. If your glass is empty, your two masters of ceremonies will encourage you to refill. The two actors who get the honor of master of ceremonies get the opportunity to practice the improvised pre-show, filled with period zingers. Before the start of the actual show, I get some more bonus trivia about the show. The cast of 30 is dressed in 180 costumes, designed by Loren Shaw, throughout the show. One of the stitchers, who’s altering a costume, fills me in that at some point during the run, someone will be doing a “butt count.” And I’m warned by others of other entertaining surprises throughout the evening. One of those being the lute inspired, Scissor Sisters infused soundtrack. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a die-hard Scissor Sisters fan, so of course I was ready to rock. For those unaware of the bands hits will certainly know them by the end of the production as they will appear all over the show. As places is called, excitement mounts from everyone in the room. Without giving away any of the fun of the show, I’ll give you some unspoilery sneak peaks. The cast is a playful, youthful, vibrant, multi-talented, young acting company. Every aspect of the show is a colorful pallet of fun. If you run out of booze during Act I, do not fret as you will refill during intermission. But don’t stray from your seat too long because you’ll get a Super Bowl Half Time show worthy intermission filled with some great song and dance. Be warned, there is some black light and lots of skin during the show. Restoration Comedy is definitely not for the faint of heart! I’m very excited to return to The Flea to see how the show has progressed during the run. If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, do so quickly before they disappear! If you liked this sneak peak, you’re in luck! I’ll be covering the show with interviews with the ENTIRE company, a behind the scenes photo diary, and maybe even a sit down with director Ed Sylvanus Iskander!

Restoration Comedy is a radical combination of two plays - Colley Cibber’s Love’s Last Shift and John Vanbrugh’s The Relapse. Cibber’s Love’s Last Shift was 1696’s biggest hit. Vanbrugh so despised the play that he wrote a sequel to undo everything he found inauthentic, creating The Relapse – which became the rival sensation of the season. The combination of these plays– itself an homage to the Restoration fad of sublimating existing sources – brings us smack into the middle of a thoroughly modern marriage debate: is it a legal union, or a stitching of souls? This production will feature The Bats: Michael Axelrod, Jaspal Binning, Naomi Bland, Brantley Brice, Emily Brown, Allison Buck, Alex Coelho, Whitney Conkling, Matthew Cox, Greg Engbrecht, Eloise Eonnet, Kelechi Ezie, James Fouhey, Justin Garascia, Rosa Gilmore, Cleo Gray, Kerry Ipema, Finn Kilgore, Chase Kinney, Alex Mandell, Anthony Martinez, Jennifer McCormick, Bonnie Milligan, Zac Moon, Seth Moore, Erik Olson, Ivano Pulito, Alexander Seife, Stephen Stout, Liz Tancredi, Jennifer Tsay, and Mari Yamamoto. The creative team features Will Taylor (Choreographer), Julia Noulin-Merat (Scenic Designer), Daniel B. Chapman (Lighting Designer), Loren Shaw (Costume Designer), Jill BC DuBoff and Jeremy S. Bloom (Sound Designers), Rowan Doyle (Props Designer), Michael Wieser (Fight Director), Greg VanHorn (Dramaturg), Ian Hersey (Vocal Coach) and David Dabbon (Musical Director and Composer of MAKE ME HAPPY). Restoration Comedy runs November 25 – December 30, 2012. The performance schedule varies. The Flea is located at 41 White Street between Church and Broadway, three blocks south of Canal, close to the A/C/E, N/R/Q, 6, J/M/Z and 1 subway lines. Tickets are $40 - $45 and can be purchased online at www.theflea.org or by calling 212-352-3101. NOTE: This production contains profanity and partial nudity.

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