ALL ABOARD THE MARRIAGE HEARSE Returns To TNC 4/23-5/16
To share one of its most popular shows of last season with a larger audience, Theater for the New City will present a return engagement of "All Aboard the Marriage Hearse," a romantic seriocomedy written and directed by Matt Morillo, from April 23 to May 16, 2009.
"All Aboard the Marriage Hearse" was presented by TNC January 3 to 27, 2008 and was subsequently extended through February 9, 2008. It was the second play written and directed by Matt Morillo, who had achieved widespread notice in 2006 and 2007 for his debut work, "Angry Young Women in Low Rise Jeans with High Class Issues." Both plays have since been issued by Samuel French Inc., making Morillo one of very few playwrights who've had their first two plays immediately published. In January, 2009 TNC presented "Stay Over" by Morillo and Maria Micheles, directed by Morillo, a comedy of what can happen to you when trying to make up after an infidelity.
Morillo is a canny observer of the mating dances of the post-Clinton era and in "All Aboard the Marriage Hearse" he comments on the institution of marriage, or at least the dread of it. Sean, a smart, handsome and fashionable magazine humorist, struggles to retain his bachelorhood in the comedy. Sean's not against commitment, but he's dogmatically against the sacred institution, which he considers archaic and unnecessary. His assumptions will be severely tested by his to-die-for, live-in girlfriend, Amy. She has just caught the bouquet at her friend's wedding and is determined to throw one at her own, and soon. The couple grapples to an uneasy compromise in this two-act standoff, which deals cleverly and drolly with the dread of nuptials, the dread of intermarriage, the dread of being trapped, and just about everything else you struggle with before you finally give in.
"Angry Young Women in Low Rise Jeans with High Class Issues" was a statement about the angst of smart, foxy, single women. If Morillo was a male Eve Ensler with that play, in "All Aboard the Marriage Hearse" he was more of a gentile Woody Allen. Its hero is a handsome, stylish, intelligent, slightly anxious man who no longer embraces the Catholic religion. As luck would have it (some would say, it's good luck), he's utterly in love with a lovely, vivacious, strong-willed, dynamic Jewish girl. Author Matt Morillo grew up in a Catholic family in Hicksville, LI, and asserts that all his women characters are smart Jewish women because they're the kind of girls he knows and dates.
The phrase "marriage hearse" is a quote from William Blake that Sean has carelessly used in his New Yorker column, in which he inveighs against the sacred institution. The couple are delicious and attractive; their commitment is unmistakable. If love were all, they should be able to work out any difficulty. Morillo keeps them locked in a delightful battle of male stubbornness and feminine wiles. The play ends in an uneasy resolution, as lovers' arguments often do.
Matt Morillo is originally a filmmaker. He was born and raised in Hicksville (Long Island). After graduating film school, he made an auspicious debut at age 23 with his first feature, "The Pretenders (2000)," an award-winning romantic comedy. His subsequent short films, most notably "Maid of Honor (2003)," attracted numerous awards. He has subsequently found the legitimate stage a very congenial venue for his writing, both short-form and long-form. "Angry Young Women..." was a collection of skits. "All Aboard the Marriage Hearse" and "Stay Over" both display an aptitude for the full length play that should keep Morillo's scripts in actors' hands for years to come. The TV-enriched, college-educated urban singles of Generation Y, with all their sexual brazenness, are given a New York stamp and a sly, often outrageous wit. All three plays teem with verbal and situational humor, develop at a high velocity are almost completely without the extra "fat" of exposition, making them extremely actor-friendly. Theater for the New City has been Morillo's creative home since 2006, when Morillo and the cast of "Angry Young Women..." presented an excerpt from it there as part of the Lower East Side Festival of the Arts.
Nick Coleman and Jessica Moreno will return in their original roles. Both are members of the KADM Players, a company formed around Matt Morillo's film and theater productions. Set design is by Mark Marcante. Lighting design is by Amith A. Chandrashaker.
Meanwhile, "Angry Young Women..." has now played to sell-out crowds and enthusiastic reviews in three different cities. It premiered at the Duo Theater, NY in 2006 and subsequently played at TNC and the Players Theater in 2007 and in Sydney, Australia in 2007. This fall, it was presented for eight weeks at the Hudson Mainstage in L.A., where the reception was, shall we say, nothing to get mad about. Variety (Terry Morgan) called it a "cheerfully raunchy show" that "showcases a fearless cast in a sharp production." L.A. Splash (Robert Petrarca) called the show "very successful in its appeal to the full house audience that surrounded me" and related, "an excited woman behind me averred 'That was simply the best, the absolute best show I've seen' as we huddled out the door. There seemed no lack of laughter through each vignette."