For the past few months, I've been working on Our Town by Thornton Wilder. You know, that play that every high school does at some time or other, the one with the scene in the soda shop that every young actor or actress has to do in acting class at some point. The one without any scenery. A lot of people think the play is sentimental, or boring, or too old. But then again, a lot of people are morons. This is a funny, dark, sharp edged play that goes for the jugular. It is funky, groovy, and whatever other adjective you'd like to use to mean fantastic.  I think the only possible way you can not find it to be a brilliant, exciting play is to not have seen or read it, and judge the book by it's cover.

Until now, my favorite version of this play was the one that was shown on PBS in the eighties, starring Spalding Gray as the Stage Manager, Eric Stoltz as George, and Penelope Ann Miller as Emily. It was really funny, and sad, and magic. I remember watching it with my mom, long ago and far away in the land of my youth. Mom cried and cried at the end, when Emily bade farewell the world. I, being young and immortal, made fun of Mom for being such a cry-baby. I was fifteen, and such things were part and parcel of my existence back then. Even so, I loved the production- it was dark, and intelligent, and passionate- and made me a life-long fan of the play.

Not surprisingly, when I wrote the screenplay for Ghostlight, a paranormal thriller about a high school theatrical production that gets haunted by angry spirits, I chose Our Town to be the play-within-the-movie. Hopefully, you will all get a chance to see that little opus on a screen near you in the near future. (that all depends on how Strong Tea gets received when it makes the film festival rounds this coming year. And if you are curious about stuff I wrote, go HERE)

So, when Steve Wilson, Artistic Director of the Wolf Theatre Academy at the JCC in Denver asked me what show I wanted to direct for the spring slot, it seemed like the time had come to direct my own version of the show.

And it has been fantastic. First off, I have the greatest cast a director could ask for- smart, funny, and willing to do whatever it takes to kick it in the ass. We tweaked some of the Stage Manager monologues, dividing them up between the whole cast at some points, and between the Stage Manager and three Assistant Stage Managers (characters we created just for this production) in others. Instead of having recorded sound effects, we are using live gadgets, like they did on old radio shows- which is really fun. We also went with a back drop- against tradition with this show, but really sweet. I told my scenic artist to make a backdrop that looked like an Edward Hopper painting, and he came through in spades. clubs, hearts and diamonds.

So here's the thing. If you are anywhere near Denver between now and Sunday night, get your self to the JCC to see something special, unique, and magic. I promise, you will thank me.


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