Trustus Theatre Presents THE HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVES, Now thru 5/24
John Guare's dark comedy The House of Blue Leaves comes to Trustus Theatre this spring. Winner of the 1971 Obie Award and Critics Award for Best Play, this script remains relevant for modern audiences as it examines the American obsession with celebrity and our constant effort to realize dreams. The Trustus production will open tonight, May 9th at 8:00pm on the Thigpen Main Stage, and will run through May 24th, 2014. Tickets may be purchased at www.trustus.org.
The House of Blue Leaves introduces audiences to Artie Shaughnessy, a songwriter with visions of glory. Toiling by day as a zoo-keeper, he suffers in seedy lounges by night, plying his wares at piano bars in Queens, New York where he resides with his wife, Bananas, who lives up to her name. Artie's mistress, Bunny Flingus, lives downstairs. She will sleep with him anytime but refuses to cook for him until they are married. On the day the Pope is making his first visit to the city, Artie's son Ronny goes AWOL from Fort Dix. Billy, an old chum who now works in the movie business, pays a visit to Artie and Bananas. Will Billy hold the key to Artie's dreams of getting out of Queens and away from the life he so despises? But like many dreams, this promise of glory teeters amid the chaos of ordinary lives.
Director Robin Gottlieb has had a dream that she's pursued for over twenty years: directing The House of Blue Leaves. "I have probably read this script over seventy times since I first read it when I was 23," said Gottlieb. "The combination of humor and pathos in this show has always spoken to me. I find the characters relatable although they are extreme people in tremendous situations. There's great humanity with these characters. I've grown up with these people so they feel authentic to me."
Undoubtedly, casting this show would be a tall order for Gottlieb since she's lived with these characters for so long. Luckily she was able to construct a talented ensemble to bring these characters from page to stage. Returning to the main stage, after playing Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol, is Scott Herr who will be portraying our dreaming protagonist Artie. Company member Sumner McLain Bender returns to play Bunny Flingus, Artie's exuberant mistress from downstairs. Artie's son Ronnie is played by Philip Perkinson, and Bernie Lee makes his Trustus debut as Billy Einhorn, Artie's old chum who now works in the motion picture industry. A full ensemble of familiar faces from Columbia stages round out the cast as the zany characters that make their way in and out of Artie's apartment: Becky Hunter, Rachel Kuhnle, Erin Huiett, Kayla Cahill, Robert Michalski (of Dracula fame), and a stage debut by Billy Guess (local arts enthusiast).
Past Trustus Company member Monica Wyche returns to Columbia from New York City to play Bananas, Artie's mentally afflicted wife. Wyche was a featured role in an episode of Law and OrderL: SVU earlier this year, and has been performing on various stages in New York including Theatre 54, The Flea Theatre, TerraNOVA, and Aquila. Trustus is happy to welcome her home for The House of Blue Leaves.
The script uses distinctive characters and stylized storytelling to explore the quest to achieve dreams. "All of these characters have ambitious dreams," said Gottlieb. "However, they don't have the means or the self-esteem to obtain them on their own. Many of them are waiting for someone else to make their dreams come true, ultimately risking the chance of their dreams humiliating them in the end." Trustus' production promises to be a humorous yet contemplative exploration of the pursuit of dreams and the unforeseen consequences which may occur.
Trustus Theatre's The House of Blue Leaves opens on the Trustus Main Stage on Friday, May 9th at 8:00pm and runs through May 24th, 2014. Thigpen Main Stage shows start at 8:00pm Thursdays through Saturdays, and Sunday matinees are at 3:00pm. Tickets are $22.00 for adults, $20.00 for military and seniors, and $15.00 for students. Half-price Student Rush-Tickets are available 15 minutes prior to curtain.
Trustus Theatre is located at 520 Lady Street, behind the Gervais St. Publix. Parking is available on Lady St. and on Pulaski St. The Main Stage entrance is located on the Publix side of the building.
Photo by Jonathan Sharpe