THE TRIP BACK DOWN to Open 2/21 at Whitefire Theatre
Groupies, trophies and fast, beautiful cars. Is winning all there is? Terri Hanauer directs a rare revival of the celebrated Broadway drama that kick-started playwright/screenwriter John Bishop's career. Nick Stabile (Bride of Chucky, Dennis Wilson in ABC's award-winning The Beach Boys) heads the cast as once-great NASCAR racer Bobby Horvath in The Trip Back Down, opening Feb. 21 at the Whitefire Theatre.
After a near-miss crash-and-burn race on the circuit, Bobby Horvath returns home to the Midwestern factory town he left to pursue racing. Over the course of numerous flashbacks, past and present collide - with unexpected results.
"Bobby needed courage to leave Mansfield to pursue a racing career, and now he needs to find the courage to come back - to face the friends and family he abandoned, to face living, to face himself," explains Hanauer. "It's as if he's racing for his life. His memories rush at him like cars racing by. Everything that happens is either 'fuel' or a 'pit stop.' He needs to get his life in focus, to get to the finish line."
The Trip Back Down teems with 26 characters and takes place over a span of two decades. Populated with rich characters including family members, colorful race car drivers, groupies, union leaders and factory workers, the cast also includes Chelsea Belmont (MFA from The Actors Studio Drama School in NYC), Kevin Brief (Company for Crown City Theatre, New York Animals for Rogue Machine), LovLee Carroll (RENT at the Westchester Broadway Theatre in NYC; Xanadu and Nine for L.A.'s DOMA Theatre Co.), Eve Danzeisen (world premiere of The Body Politic at 59E59 in NYC; A Winter's Tale and Macbeth at The Old Globe in San Diego), Karl Ebergen (recent graduate, UCLA's School of TFT), Eric Erickson (Los Angeles based multimedia artist and performer), Gregory G. Giles (The Accomplices and Opus at the Fountain, Tales from Hollywood at the Odyssey), Larrs Jackson (Night of January 16th at the Odyssey), Mike Mahaffey (Romeo and Juliet at the Odyssey Theatre, Warriors for the History Channel), Lily Nicksay (ABC's Boy Meets World, Ovation nomination for The Wild Duck at A Noise Within), Scott Roe (Transformers: Dark of the Moon), Terasa Sciortino (Locked and Loaded at the Santa Monica Playhouse) and Meredith Thomas (The Bellflower Sessions at the Whitefire).
"Not many people in L.A. know about this play because it hasn't been done here since 1998," says Stabile. "It's a classic, a great piece."
John Bishop was writing about a world he knew well; the playwright grew up in Mansfield, Ohio, the son of a foreman for Westinghouse. The Trip Back Down opened at the Longacre Theatre on Broadway on January 4, 1977 where it ran for 70 performances with John Cullum starring as Bobby Horvath. When Marshall W. Mason, founder of the acclaimed Circle Repertory Company, saw a performance, he invited Bishop to become a member. Circle Rep would become Bishop's artistic home for nearly 20 years, producing many of his plays including Borderlines, The Great Grandson of Jedediah Kohler, Winter Signs and The Harvesting. Bishop also directed Circle Rep productions of The Beaver Coat, El Salvador, Florida Crackers and several of his own plays, including Empty Hearts, which received a Kennedy Center grant. Bishop eventually moved to Los Angeles, where he wrote The Package, a 1989 crime-drama starring Gene Hackman and Tommy Lee Jones, and co-wrote Drop Zone, a 1994 action-thriller starring Wesley Snipes. In 1993, after doing rewrites on several Paramount Pictures films including Sliver and Beverly Hills Cops III, Bishop signed an exclusive two-year deal with the studio and did rewrites on Clear and Present Danger and other films. Bishop's other plays include The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940, a send-up of vintage murder mystery comedies that he directed on Broadway in 1987, and the book for the musical Elmer Gantry, which was produced at Ford's Theatre in Washington in 1988 and again in 1995, and had its West Coast premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse in 1991.
Terri Hanauer directed La Ronde de Lunch for the Katselas Theatre Company, which was Ovation Recommended and received six Stage Scene LA Awards, including Best Direction. She directed Mitch Hara's Mutant Olive at the Beverly Hills Playhouse, NY Solo Festival and Whitefire Theatre Solo Festival ("Best Solo Show" award). At the Odyssey Theatre, she directed world premieres of Peter Lefcourt's outrageous comedies Mutually Assured Destruction and The Assassination of Leon Trotsky: A Comedy, and Donald Margulies' Collected Stories, which was invited to the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She also directed staged readings of Larry Mollin's The Screenwriter's Daughter at the Blank Theatre and Bradley Rand Smith's Nocturne at the Skylight Theatre. Her first feature film, Sweet Talk, has just been released and is available on Video on Demand and iTunes.
Nick Stabile's television credits include series regular roles on Sunset Beach for Aaron Spelling; Neurotic Tendencies, directed and produced by Kelsey Grammer; and the television novella Saints and Sinners. He has also recurred on Half and Half, Popular, Undressed, Passions and Days of Our Lives, and guest starred on shows like CSI Miami, Saving Grace, Without A Trace, Dawson's Creek, Step by Step and City Lights, to name a few. Nick's favorite television experience is still his portrayal of Dennis Wilson in the ABC mini-series Beach Boys: An American Family. Nick can be seen in the cult film classic Bride of Chucky with Jennifer Tilly and Katherine Heigl, Telling of the Shoes, Descendant and Sheltered. Recent theater credits include Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive, Charles Fuller's A Soldier's Play and Slow Dance in Midtown by Elizabeth Sarnoff.
Set design for The Trip Back Down is by Tom Buderwitz; lighting design is by Jeremy Pivnick; sound design is by Dino Herrmann; projection design is by Corwin Evans; costume design is by Shannon Kennedy; fight choreography is by Mike Mahaffey; casting is by Michael Donovan; production stage manager is Penelope Lowder; and Racquel Lehrman, Theatre Planners produces.