REASONS TO BE PRETTY Plays The Phoenix Theatre of Indianapolis 7/8-8/1
The Phoenix Theatre of Indianapolis announces the Midwest Premiere of Neil LaBute's bristling comedy Reasons to be Pretty. The play starts Thursday, July 8 and runs through August 1, 2010 on the Mainstage at The Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis. The production is sponsored by Indianapolis Power & Light Company.
For anyone familiar with the works of LaBute, Reasons to be Pretty reflects a writing style that takes no prisoners and addresses the taboos and unspoken truths of contemporary American life. Reasons to Be Pretty concludes LaBute's trilogy exploring America's obsession with physical beauty, a trilogy he began with The Shape of Things and Fat Pig, which was produced at the Phoenix during the 2007-08 season.
In this wonderfully dark comedy, LaBute, sometimes called the bad boy of American theatre, takes us on a wild ride through the national obsession with what it means to be pretty. Greg, a working-class everyman, adores his girlfriend Steph. From the moment the play opens, we see that Greg's tight-knit social circle has been thrown into turmoil as a result of an offhanded remark he made about a female coworker's pretty face (and his girlfriend's lack thereof) that has gotten back to Steph.
Reasons to be Pretty has been described as a hopelessly romantic play about the hopelessness of romance. Relationships can certainly be wonderful. When the right person comes into your life, it is wonderful. That person can give you goose bumps and you can hardly breathe until you see them again. But, relationships are also fragile and can easily be broken, even when we try so hard to treat them gently. LaBute writes a tremendous amount of compassion into his lead character Greg, who sees himself as a harmless, somewhat victimized ne'er-do-well and begins the play as what seems to be a passive participant in his own life. Things happen to him, but he doesn't seem to instigate any of them. As more things occur that are out of his control, and the need/desire for change becomes stronger, Greg grows up and takes a more active role in his life.
Ryan Artzberger plays Greg, whose unfortunate choice of words tears his world apart. Artzberger has just ended a twice-extended run in Reasons to be Pretty at The Studio Theatre in Washington DC. Receiving rave reviews for his portrayal of Greg in that production, The Washington Post said the appeal of the Studio Theatre production was in large part due to the "splendid anchoring performance of Ryan Artzberger. It's an indication of Artzberger's charming hold on us that we identify with Greg even when he feels compelled to corroborate the lies of a truly reprehensible buddy." Live DC stated that "Artzberger is completely convincing and perfect for the role."
As an outstanding popular regional actor, Artzberger has appeared in the title role in Shakespeare Santa Cruz's Hamlet, and Bassanio in Heartland Actors' Repertory Theatre's The Merchant of Venice. Recently, he starred in Mary Zimmerman's acclaimed The Arabian Nights at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Artzberger is making his Phoenix Theatre debut in Reasons to be Pretty, although he has been a frequent performer at the Indiana Repertory Theatre.
Angela Plank plays Greg's fiery girlfriend Steph, who was last seen on the Phoenix Mainstage in Sunlight. Angela's Phoenix Theatre debut was in LaBute's Fat Pig in 2006. Last seen on the Phoenix Mainstage in Yankee Tavern, Shane Chuvalas plays Kent, Greg's best friend and fellow warehouse worker. Rounding out the cast is Mariana Fernandez who makes her Phoenix debut as Kent's wife Carly.
Reasons to be Pretty is directed by Phoenix Producing Director Bryan Fonseca, who looks forward to bringing LaBute's words to life on the Phoenix Mainstage. "LaBute speaks uncomfortable truths. Reasons to be Pretty is a very funny, hard-hitting examination of relationships and how men and women relate to one another. It is an insightful look at how the outside world pressures us to all have the same opinion about what is considered pretty." The production crew for the play includes set designer James Gross, lighting designer Laura Glover and costumer Karen Witting.