Sunday, May 31, 2009

On stage | ®

On stage ®

Don't Talk' extended with 3 more shows
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona Published: 05.29.2009

Invisible Theatre's very silly, very fun 'Don't Talk to the Actors' has been extended — shows have been added for 8 p.m. June 5-6 and 3 p.m. June 7.

So there are no excuses not to go — and if you like to laugh, you want to go.
Tickets are $22-$25. Invisible Theatre is at 1400 N. First Ave., 882-9721.

Kathleen Allen"

Friday, May 29, 2009

Outfront Laughs and Backstage Truths at IT

Outfront Laughs and Backstage Truths at IT
by Chuck Graham
May 28, 2009

There is still time to catch 'Don't Talk To The Actors,' getting big laughs for one more weekend at Invisible Theatre, 1400 N. First Ave. This energetic comedy by Tom Dudzick, directed by Susan Claassen, takes us deep into the creative process percolating backstage as a young, new playwright gets his first crack at having on a show on Broadway.

Arlene (Dallas Thomas) and Jerry (Eric Schumacher) enjoy a happy moment in 'Don't Talk To The Actors.'

A long time ago I had a tee-shirt that read (in French) "Art is a dirty business, but somebody's got to do it." Dudzick is committed to that idea, and has a great deal of fun showing us why.

Jerry Przpezniak (Eric Schumacher) is the young writer, just arrived in New York's theater district from the untrammeled upstate hinterland of Buffalo. In tow is his girlfriend Arlene (Dallas Thomas), heart all aflutter because one of her favorite actors from girlhood has been cast in a leading role. Impressed that her boyfriend could write such a play, Arlene is even more impressed that she will actually get to meet this now-faded star.

That would be Curt Logan (Douglas Mitichell), a middle-aged blowhard whose best acting was years ago -- which is about the time Arlene as a young girl would have seen him.

The I.T. production does belong to Mitchell, whose performance gets the humor in what makes baseless arrogance so pitiful -- and consequently, so funny.

Arlene, of course, doesn't see any of the down side to her middle-aged hero. She is flattered by all the smarmy attention he slathers on her. A good subtitle to this play would be "And Don’t Let Your Girlfriend Meet Them."

Adding to our suspicions that some popular celebrities are actually snarky people is Liz McMahon as Beatrice Pomeroy. Once one of the bright lights on Broadway, Beatirce has aged into a potty mouthed woman whose naughty jokes now seem disgusting rather than shocking.

David Johnston shows wonderful restraint as Mike Policzek, the director of Jerry's play. Any time an actor gets cast as a director, there is the temptation to fill the director's personality with every unpleasant characteristic imaginable. Johnston's director has his idiosyncrasies, but we appreciate how he is basically a good guy who's been given one of those dirty jobs as an artist.

Adding delightfully droll comedy is Carrie Hill, using a British accent to play the stage manager Lucinda Shaw. Her sense of backstage propriety is intense, clearly believing these Americans simply don’t give the theater its proper respect.

"Don't Talk To The Actors" takes place on the first day of rehearsal, in a cluttered room just off Times Square. The two actors, the director and the playweright gather around a table with copies of the script. Off to the side are Arlene and Lucinda.

At first everyone is polite to everyone else. As the rehearsal process goes on, all of them are always playing the personality angles, probing for weak spots, asserting strengths, wanting to keep the upper hand in this delicate midwifing of a new play.

It is a potent dance, which Dudzick gives the feeling of authenticity. Between laughs, thoughtful audience members will catch some serious tones, as well.

Is the actor's first responsibility to tell the story or to give a career enhancing performance? Is the director's first responsibliity to the script, or to juice up the producion so it sells more tickets? Also stirred into the mix are observations on the subjectivity of art.

As food for thought, "Don't Talk To The Actors" is a balanced meal.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hilarious Catastrophe | Review | Tucson Weekly

Hilarious Catastrophe Review Tucson Weekly

Hilarious Catastrophe
Invisible Theatre nails this playabout an onstage production run amok
by James Reel

Backstage comedies—the epitome of the genre being Michael Frayn's Noises Off—usually document the self-destruction of a show during a performance. Tom Dudzick's Don't Talk to the Actors hilariously chronicles a collapse way before the curtain rises. The show in question is so doomed that it begins to fall apart the minute the actors show up for their first table read.

Dudzick's play itself, in contrast, is tightly constructed, fitting six well-developed characters together so precisely that it's hard to imagine this show falling apart, especially in the confident, buoyant production it's enjoying at Invisible Theatre.

Dallas Thomas and Eric Schumacher in Don't Talk to the Actors.

Jerry, a budding playwright, has brought his girlfriend, Arlene, to New York as he's about to get his first big Broadway break. They're both na├»ve and a bit star-struck; Arlene has tagged along to meet her idol, Curt Logan, a long-in-the-tooth TV actor who has been cast in Jerry's play, along with his bawdy former co-star, Beatrice Pomeroy, sort of a bargain-basement Fanny Brice. It is immediately apparent that Beatrice is all wrong for her role in Jerry's quiet little play; meanwhile, the smarmy Curt, while professing love for his part, tries to persuade Jerry to give it more "texture"—that is, make the character less milquetoast and more of a geriatric Stanley Kowalski.

Much trouble ensues when Jerry and Arlene break the one rule imposed by the show's avuncular director, Mike: Don't talk to the actors. Mike's implication is that conversation would only bother the actors, but the truth is that nothing good happens when the actors start talking back.

All of this is presided over from a corner by the obsessive-compulsive stage manager, Lucinda. She's the first character onstage, and Carrie Hill plays her with just the right degree of insufferable English primness, not to mention anal-retentive tension. Costumer Shana Nunez has decked her out in odd, mismatched black-and-white getups that gently mock the more coordinated real-life attire of the play's director, Susan Claassen. Not only does Claassen have a better eye for fashion than Lucinda; she has a fine sense of just how far she can push these characters without stripping them of their humanity. They don't engage in silly TV-sitcom double-takes; their gestures and inflections are based in the real world, which makes their fragile connection to that real world even funnier.

Naturally, actors who play hammy actors inevitably steal scenes, and nobody steals scenes with more gusto here than Liz McMahon as the brassy Beatrice. She enters late in the first act, but once she arrives, she takes the show hostage until intermission. McMahon's crass Beatrice, singing fragments of naughty songs and telling jokes that predate Cro-Magnon culture, is initially almost too much to bear, but later, she's allowed to develop some depth and nuance, and does so with great sensitivity.

Douglas Mitchell's Curt is suave and obviously insincere yet irresistibly charming, and it's wonderful to watch him attempt to seduce, in different ways, both Jerry and Arlene. Mitchell helps Curt get away with his naughty behavior, because he's not excessively flamboyant, even while managing to be just a bit bigger than life.

As Jerry and Arlene, the bumpkins from Buffalo, Eric Schumacher and Dallas Thomas are sweet, sincere, malleable and overwhelmed, all at once. Schumacher and Thomas neither let their characters run away from them nor blend in with the wallpaper, and through their control, they manage to hold their own among the flamboyant figures around them.

David Johnston plays Mike, the sensible director, as if he were an affable Midwestern hardware-store proprietor, with his actions daring to suggest that not quite everyone in theater is insane, while never, ever being boring—quite an achievement in these surroundings.

While Don't Talk to the Actors is well-stocked with funny lines and frantic moments, it's not the sort of comedy that lurches from joke to joke across the gaps where characters ought to be. The people on this stage are worth caring about, as written and as played.

Friday, May 15, 2009

We have to say IT's 'Don't Talk' is funny theater | ®

We have to say IT's 'Don't Talk' is funny theater ®

We have to say IT's 'Don't Talk' is funny theater
By Kathleen Allen
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona Published: 05.15.2009

Theater ain't always pretty.

It can be full of playwrights who think every word is golden, directors who are little Hitlers and actors with egos so large and judgment so off that they are walking disasters.

Oh, my, do we love it.

Especially as laid out in Tom Dudzick's backstage comedy "Don't Talk to the Actors," which Invisible Theatre opened on Wednesday.

Dudzick has crafted delicious, over-the-top characters, director Susan Claassen has boosted the hilarity with her attention to detail and fine-honed sense of over-the-topness, and the cast has delivered an evening full of ridiculous, and quite funny, theater.

It's a fine way to end a season.

Jerry (Eric Schumacher) is a green-behind-the-ears playwright whose first Broadway production is about to start rehearsal. On the first day, he brings with him his fiance, Arlene (Dallas Thomas), who is more green behind the ears than Jerry and has long had a crush on Curt (Douglas Mitchell), the aging television star who is starring in the play. Curt's co-star is the bawdy Beatrice (Liz McMahon), another aging TV star.
The director, Mike (David Johnston), likes Jerry's play, and warns the playwright not to talk to the actors — he knows those actors will do everything they can to make the play about them.

And then there is the fastidious stage manager, Lucinda (Carrie Hill), who is all business and completely focused on doing the director's bidding.

My, my. These people know how to ruin a good thing.

Mitchell's portrayal of the suave, kinda-creepy Curt is too priceless. Curt is intent on getting Jerry to change his character from a nice guy to one with edge. "Texture," he calls it. And he's not above seducing Arlene so that she can convince Jerry of just that.

McMahon matches Mitchell for outrageousness and laughs. Her character, too, wants Jerry to change the script, only she wants to sing a song or two and tell a couple of off-color jokes.

The energy level soared when McMahon and Mitchell took the stage. It got so the audience couldn't wait for Arlene to drop a one-liner, or for Mitchell to raise a brow and leer.

Underscoring the personalties of the characters were the costumes by Shana Nunez, who dressed the cast, especially McMahon and Mitchell, in the perfect outfits.

What was so terrific about this production is that the whole cast was engaged all the time. While Mitchell's character overacted, Thomas-as-Arlene sat in the corner and made googoo eyes at him. Schumacher never lost his character's anxious, will-this-go-right-and-make-me-a-star persona. Johnston's director had just the touch of benevolent exasperation, and Hill's stage manager was deliciously prissy, obsessive-compulsive and very, very funny.

The actors all had keen timing, allowing the funny bone to be exercised all the more.
"Don't Talk to the Actors" is as silly as can be. And, as it turns out, a fairly accurate peek at some of the backstage dramas of theater.

As we said, not pretty. But it sure is funny.

"Don't Talk to the Actors"
• Playwright: Tom Dudzick.
• Director: Susan Claassen.
• When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 3 p.m. Sundays through May 31.
• Where: Invisible Theatre, 1400 N. First Ave.
• Tickets: $22-$25 regular performances. Half-price tickets, subject to availability, can be purchased 30 minutes before all shows.
• Reservations/information: 882-9721.
• Running time: 2 hours, with one intermission.
Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at or 573-4128

Monday, May 11, 2009

2009-2010 Season Auditions at Invisible Theatre

Invisible Theatre




The Invisible Theatre will hold auditions for their 2009-2010 Season on Tuesday,

May 19, 2009 beginning at 5:00 pm. Auditions will be held at the Invisible Theatre - 1400 N. First Ave (at Drachman).

Please call the Invisible Theatre (520) 882-9721 with your name and phone contact. You will then be assigned an audition time. All actors are paid.

Actors must bring a recent headshot and resume and will be asked to perform a 3 minute contemporary monologue.

Friday, May 8, 2009

'Don't Talk' is loud fun | ®

'Don't Talk' is loud fun ®

"Don't Talk" is loud fun
By Kathleen Allen
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona Published: 05.08.2009

Tom Dudzick knows what's funny: his life. • It's where he draws most of his inspiration for his comedies, including the 2007 play "Don't Talk to the Actors," which Invisible Theatre opens next week. • When he sits down to write a new play, said Dudzick in a phone interview from New York City, he has to get personal. • "I sit and think what is meaningful to me, what's happened to me, what am I involved in and feel strongly enough to write about," he said.

Curt (Douglas Mitchell) and Bea (Liz McMahon) try to persuade fledgling playwright Jerry (Eric Schumacher, center) that he needs to make changes to his script.

So when he sat down to write "Don't Talk," he remembered going to New York with his first play to make it to the Big Apple, "Greetings."

"Putting up 'Greetings' was fearful and awful," he recalled.

It starred Darren McGavin of "Night Stalker" fame.

"This play didn't come about because of him," said Dudzick, "but he gave me some tough moments."
While his experience wasn't funny at the time, gaining perspective sure made it so.

"Don't Talk" is about Jerry Przpezniak, a 30-something, very green behind the ears, playwright. He and his intended, Arlene Wyniarski, are in New York for rehearsals of his new play.

They can't believe it: pencils neatly lined up at the actors' places at the table, a view of the Empire State Building outside the rehearsal room, and it stars Curt Logan, a washed-up TV star who still shines bright in Arlene's eyes.

She loves, loves, loves Curt and just can't wait to meet him. The stage manager, however, warns her to stay away — the actors don't like to be spoken to.

Naturally, the two lead actors in Jerry's play have some whacked-out ideas on how to make it better. And they all involve making their scenes brighter, bigger, brassier.

"The whole thing about the naive kid, the playwright, coming to New York — it was semi-autobiographical," said Dudzick.

"Most of it is fiction, but it's based on some true elements."

Dudzick has about a half-dozen plays under his belt, but "Don't Talk" remains his favorite.
"It's so funny and so close to home," he said. "I love this play. To hear the audience's laughter is very rewarding."

And it's likely to roll easily. The script is full of many moments that ring hilariously true.
"It's honest and universal," said Susan Claassen, who is directing the play.

"The characters are all charming in their own way. And the humor — when I read it, I laughed out loud, which is rare when reading a script. It has a magic about it."

Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at or 573-4128.

• "Don't Talk to the Actors"
• Playwright: Tom Dudzick.
• Director: Susan Claassen.
• When: Preview is 7:30 p.m. Tuesday; regular performances are 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 3 p.m. Sundays through May 31.
• Where: Invisible Theatre, 1400 N. First Ave.
• Tickets: $16 preview; $22-$25 regular performances. Half-price tickets, subject to availability, can be purchased 30 minutes before all shows.
• Reservations/information: 882-9721.
• Running time: 2 hours, with one intermission.
• Cast: Dallas Thomas, Eric Schumacher, David Johnston, Douglas Mitchell, Liz McMahon, Carrie Hill.