Black Comedy DINNER AT HOME BETWEEN DEATHS to Play Odyssey Theatre This Spring
High finance, family dysfunction, death -- and laughs. The world premiere of DINNER AT HOME BETWEEN DEATHS, a pitch-black comedy by Andrea Lepcio (Looking for the Pony), directed by Stuart Ross (Forever Plaid) and presented by Indie Chi Productions, opens as a guest production at the Odyssey Theatre on April 2.
Inspired by the Bernie Madoff scandal and other Ponzi schemes before and since, Lepcio's comic thriller examines the American dream and American identity in the face of eroding ethics. The Indie Chi production stars, in alphabetical order, Amielynn Abellera (title role in Se Llama Cristina at Theatre @ Boston Court), Diane Cary (NBC mini-series V), Andrea Evans (three decades on One Life to Live as Tina Lord) and Todd Waring (ABC Family series Chasing Life).
"Most people don't think they have the knowledge to manage their own money, so they find someone to take care of it for them," says Lepcio, who has worked as an analyst for Solomon Brothers and Chase Manhattan Bank. "But how do we know who we can trust? Whether as grand an offense as a Ponzi scheme or a more middling mismanagement of funds, far too often the people we put our faith in turn out to be crooks. What fascinates me about Madoff in particular, being Jewish myself, was how he was so willing to hurt Jewish charities and the State of Israel. It was an affinity crime, which put it so completely over the top."
In Dinner at Home, Sean Lynch (Waring) is a high-powered financier who's made his a fortune on the backs of his investors - more specifically, on the back of the charity run by his sister-in-law, Kat (Evans). As the reckoning draws near, he fantasizes about running away to Ireland, but his unsuspecting wife Fiona (Cary) is not having any of that. Meanwhile Lily (Abellera), Kat's step-adopted daughter who works for Sean's firm, has gone missing.
"What distinguishes this as a crime story is that all the repercussions dramatized take place within the family," suggests Cary. "It's about how families will pull together to protect the skeletons in their closets."
DINNER AT HOME BETWEEN DEATHS received readings at the Lark Play Development Center and at Naked Angels, both in New York City, and has been in development with Indie Chi for the past year. Lepcio, who lives in Maine, will spend the month in Los Angeles to collaborate with Ross and the actors on the rehearsal process.
Set design for DINNER AT HOME BETWEEN DEATHS is by Evan Bartoletti; lighting design is by Derrick McDaniel; sound design is by Cricket S. Myers; costume design is by Michael Mullen; graphic design is by Kiff Scholl; and casting is by Michael Donovan, CSA. The production stage manager is Tiffany Thomas, associate producer is Victoria Watson, Theatre Planners; and Racquel Lehrman, Theatre Planners produces.
Andrea Lepcio is best known for Looking for the Pony, a finalist for the Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award and for the NEA Outstanding New American Play Award. It was presented in a "Rolling World Premiere" off-Broadway at Vital Theatre Company in New York and Synchronicity Performance Group in Atlanta, and subsequent productions including at Off the Wall. Her plays and musicals have been produced and developed at HERE, Lark Play Development Center, New York Music Theatre Festival, TerraNova Collective, Vital Theatre and Women's Project among others in New York, as well as regionally and internationally. She is currently working on an EST/Sloan commission for a new play about the Montreal Protocol. Additional Plays and musicals under development include Strait of Gibraltar (Geva Theatre Center), Central Avenue Breakdown (Fwd Theatre), The Gold (NYMF) and Lf&Tms (Music Theatre Factory). Andrea is a member of the Dramatists Guild where she was a fellow and the Dramatists Guild Fellows Program Director for ten years. She is a New Georges Affiliated Artist, a member of BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Librettist Workshop and an alumna of the Lark's Playwrights' Workshop and the Women's Project Playwrights' Lab. M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing, Carnegie Mellon University. B.A. Human Ecology, College of the Atlantic.
Stuart Ross is the creator, writer and director of one of the most successful off-Broadway musicals in history - Forever Plaid. In addition to directing the original New York production and productions across the U.S. and around the world, he directed the movie version that is fast becoming a perennial favorite on PBS. Stuart also created and directed the holiday sequel, Plaid Tidings and the glee club version, The Sound of Plaid. Southern California directing credits include Promises, Promises starring Jason Alexander, Jean Smart, Fred Willard and Allan Thicke; Brigadoon with Marin Mazzie, Jason Daniely, Deb Gibson and Orson Bean; and It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman (all for Reprise!); It's A Wonderful Life starring Alfred Molina, Michael Richards, Tony Shaloub, Sharon Lawrence and Orson Bean (Pasadena Playhouse); The Boswell Sisters andf Breaking Up (San Diego's Old Globe Theatre); Silk Stockings (Musical Theatre West), and, most recently, Enter Laughing - The Musical (Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts). He received the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Standing On Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays, which he co-produced with the late Joan Stein. Mr. Ross wrote the script and co-wrote the lyrics for the Public Theater production of Radiant Baby, directed by George C. Wolfe (Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Lucille Lortel award nominations for best musical). He also wrote and directed Diahann Carroll: Life and Time, which played to sell out crowds at Feinstein's in NYC and on tour. On Broadway, he co-wrote the book (with Barry Keating) for the Tony-nominated musical Starmites as well as for The Radio City Music Hall Easter Show. Off-Broadway writing credits include A Leap of Faith, The Heebie Jeebies, Not-So-New Faces, Tea with Bea and Fun with Dick and Jane: The Musical. He has worked at some of the country's most prestigious theaters, including Manhattan Theatre Club, Primary Stages, Alley Theatre, Goodspeed Opera House, Cleveland Playhouse, Cincinnati Playhouse, Alliance Theatre and the Walnut Street Theatre, just to name a few. For nine seasons, he served as director, dramaturg and/or writer at the National Music Theatre Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center.
Indie Chi Productions is an independent company focused on producing new and original material for the stage and screen. Previous theater productions in Los Angeles include the world premiere of The Snake Can, directed by Steve Robman; the world premiere of von Lutz, directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera; the West Coast premiere of Win/Lose/Draw, directed by Dorothy Lyman; and a revival of Love and Whispers directed by Anthony Caldarelli. Indie Chi has produced two festival short films, Good and Grounded, as well as the feature film Kantemir.
Performances of DINNER AT HOME BETWEEN DEATHS take place Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., April 2 through May 8. There will be two preview performances on Thursday, March 31 and Friday, April 1, both at 8 p.m. All tickets are $30 (reserved seating) except previews, which are $15. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For reservations and information, call (323) 960-4429 or go to www.plays411.com/dinner.