Monday, May 30, 2011

The Interlopers by Gary Lennon. A World Premiere.

So I'm in the misdst of rehearsals for this new play called 'The Interlopers' by Gary Lennon at Bootleg Theatre in Los Angeles. We open it on June 17 and run it through July in a limited engagement. There are a number of fascinating aspects to this new play, not the least of which is the gender-bending plot and theme of the piece. But the thing that has me excited about it at the moment is that it is such a clear and shining example of Mike Nichol's sometimes disputed claim that directing is 90% casting. I simply cannot imagine a play more perfectly cast and, frankly, it's been quite awhile since I've been involved in one that IS so perfectly cast.

So often in this business, whether it be New York, Chicago or Small Town, USA, the casting process is something one finally 'settles' for, rather than achieves. I have always agreed vehemently with Mr. Nichols regarding casting. Now, sometimes, to be sure, the casting process sort of falls together almost by accident. And when that happens the chances for a stellar piece of theatre is almost insured. But what happens more often is that directors and producers end up with the least objectionable actor in the role or roles. Now this is certainly no one's fault, I mean everyone wants a show to be perfect, but it's the price of doing business in show-biz. Sometimes the actors, in the final analysis, just don't fit.

But the difference between the right person for the role and the 'almost right' person for the role is palpable. It was one of the things that struck me in rehearsal the other day. In addition, our director, Jim Fall, is enormously collaborative. That may seem a small thing, but indeed it is not. Jim, too, seems to realize he's cast it spot on and consequently appears to delight in letting the actors run full out. It's a far cry from a director I was working with this time last year who liked to actually give actors words on which to 'gesture.' Good Lord. The difference, of course, is a confident director and a director trying to appear confident.

In any event, it's terribly exciting and I look forward to seeing it all come together. My involvement up to now has been somewhat piece-meal.

In other news, my two writing projects are chugging along nicely. One, what I call my 'German Film,' is waiting for one of the producers to fly into LA in a couple of weeks so that we might meet face to face and start nipping and tucking at the script and the other, the 'secret project,' is finally starting to resemble a play. Still a ton of work to do on both, I'm sure, but neither is towering over me anymore. They both seem to be within human grasp.

But back to this 'perfect casting' theory. It happens fairly seldom, oddly enough. In fact, the last time I can remember it happening to me was the second time I did 'A Few Good Men.' I was doing 'Jessop,' the Nicholson role in the film, and either by accident or through precise choices, we ended up with a cast so perfectly suited for their individual roles, it bordered on the eerie. This was a large regional theatre (what's known as LORT A in the business) and there was a goodly amount of money riding on the project. In this day and age of economic woes, a cast the size of 'A Few Good Men' is somewhat rare. That being the case, we had very little room for error. The sad truth is, regional theatres really can't afford to produce noble failures anymore. Every show has to be a hit. Especially a show with some 15 or 20 roles in it like 'A Few Good Men.' It's simply too expensive to fuck up.

So on this windy Memorial day, I couldn't be more optimistic about things. If, Gentle Reader, you find yourself in or near LA in June and July, I recommend seeing this new play...The Interlopers, by Gary Lennon, Directed by Jim Fall, The Bootleg Theatre, through July 23.

See you tomorrow.

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