Saturday, July 12, 2014





[Title] tells its own story


February 19. 2013 11:50PM
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Susan is onstage, offering advice to herself and her companions, maybe to all of us.


Oh, baby, you must escape and grab it by the nape of its neck, by the trachea, she sings. Break it, go on drive a stake in.


Providing musical backup at a Gaslight Theatre rehearsal, Susan's friends Hunter, Jeff and Heidi join her in a stern admonition. Die, vampire, die!


But, catchy as the number is, don't think [title of play] is a Dracula spoof.


The oddly named show – yes, the title that remains to be filled in does serve as its moniker – is a musical that tells the story of its own evolution from idea to theater-festival entry to Broadway.


Guiding it along the way are writers Hunter Bell and Jeff Bowen (portrayed by Lukas Tomasacci of Shickshinny and Nick Klem of South Williamsport) with help from actress friends Susan Blackwell (played by Meaghan Fadden) and Heidi Blickenstaff (played by Wendy Popeck of Forty Fort) and music director Larry Pressgrove (represented by Aimee Radics of Wyoming).


All of the characters are thespians at heart, but Susan keeps one foot in the corporate world, with a 9-to-5 day job she describes as killing me softly.


For a character who was once starry-eyed confident enough to enter Rice-Krispies Treats in a baking contest, the theater project is sanity salvation.


This is her creative outlet, said Mary Rose Luksha from Larksville, a Gaslight Theatre understudy who portrayed Susan during a recent rehearsal.


Now, who are these vampires who must be slain?


As Susan explains, a vampire is a person or thing or feeling that stands between you and your creative self expression.


Maybe it was your fourth-grade teacher who said you couldn't draw. Maybe it's a present-day producer who declares your song repetitive. Maybe, the Die Vampire Die scene suggests cheekily, it's an air-freshener vampire, a censor who wants you to remove from a script anything a little old lady at a matinee might find offensive.


She wants you to clean it up and clean it out, which will leave your work toothless, gutless and crotchless. But, you'll be left with two tight paragraphs, all kittens that your grandma would be so proud of.


[title of show] appears to have made it past the language censor, but in one scene, perhaps plagued by the vampire of self-doubt, Hunter wonders if the script should be toned down.


He's just counted the use of (one bad word) six times and (another bad word) 11 times. Oops. Just by mentioning them, the count increased to seven and 12.


The play isn't for children, but director Christina Reynolds believes adults will enjoy the music that first attracted her attention, as well as the unusual plot – which shows the characters arguing, exulting, juggling the fledgling musical with other jobs such as Heidi's part in The Little Mermaid, and wondering what to rewrite in a change-it-don't-change-it sequence.


Especially for anyone who has worked intensely on a theater project, Reynolds said, the musical will hit the mark.


It happens again and again, she said. Even if you start out working with people you don't know, you become a family.


Doing shows you love is usually fun. Doing shows you love with people you love is even better. Growing to love people you hardly knew at the beginning makes it super special, Reynolds wrote in her blog on the Gaslight Theatre website.


The parallels that can be drawn between the characters being played and the characters I work with are multiplying every night. We have all bonded over getting this show to an awesome place.


If you go

What: [title of show]


Who: Presented by Gaslight Theatre


When: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 4 and 5, 2 p.m. Jan. 6


Where: Mellow Theater, 501 Vine St., Scranton.


Info: 955-1455





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