BWW INTERVIEWS: A Chat With BCP's Cast of SORDID LIVES
There is a tender moment in the Bergen County Player's current production of SORDID LIVES in which the gay character, Ty, reminisces with the audience about his childhood. Looking out into the crowd, he confides that as a young boy, he was quite heavy and the object of much ridicule by his classmates. He was so chubby in fact that he always had to buy husky-sized pants. Adding insult to injury, his over-sized pants displayed a bold label on the back proclaiming to the world that they were "HUSKY". In a loving attempt to spare her son further mockery, Ty's mother goes to the local Goodwill store, purchases a pair of jeans with a "SLIM" label on the back and proceeds to transfer the more flattering tag onto the rear end of her son's trousers. Thinking back on the incident, Ty wonders aloud what life would be like if people could change the labels that have been assigned to them with the same amount of ease. He speculates that if this were the case, his mother would probably jump at the chance to alter his label from "gay" to "straight". As Ty exits the stage, the audience is left wondering if Ty himself wishes he could make the same effortless transformation.
Del Shores' SORDID LIVES is a modern day comedy filled with hilarious slapstick humor and heart-warming moments. It tells a convoluted tale of a wacky Texas family who must learn to accept each other for who they are, even if it means sacrificing long held beliefs and values. "The themes of the play are love and acceptance," offers talented actress Sharon Podsada, who plays the role of vampy psychiatrist Dr. Eve. "Not only having the people in your life accepting you, but learning how to accept yourself as well."
Director Carol Fisher strongly agrees. "Del Shores describes the character of Ty as ‘a beautiful young man on a journey', and he really is," she explains. "Ty is what roots the play in reality. He has these really honest moments while all this craziness is happening around him. His honesty is how we start to view the other characters - through his feelings and his emotions. But at the same time, we hopefully take the other characters who are rooted in the craziness of the show and bring some reality to them as well."
Fisher contends that the characters in the play, as outlandish and ridiculous as they may seem, are based on genuine personalities. "I've met them. I went to school with them. I see them on the news at night. They are "the real Americans," she jokes.
Playing the role of Wardell required actor Jonathan Deck to be deft in both dramatic acting and physical comedy and he has come to respect his wacky alter ego. "The author writes in the play that these are real people, " he affirms. "He does not want them to be played as cartoon characters." Deck believes it is the promise of redemption and salvation which rings true to the audience. "With my character, just admitting what happened and coming to terms with it is just a freeing type of experience. I've done that throughout my life. I've made mistakes and when you can correct them you feel good about yourself. You really become that character who wants to do the right thing."
Meg Renton portrays her character, LaVonda with both humor and flair and believes that the play's storyline has true relevance to everyday life. "I have a sister that I don't get a long with sometimes. I've had to bury parents and witness the things that come up when you're planning a funeral. There's a lot of tension, a lot of fighting. There's things that you can't believe come up. So this play is very real to me."
Cast member Helen Boyadjian imbues her role of scorned wife Noleta, with a sense of power and intensity. She believes the audience can relate to the transformation her character undergoes over the course of the play. "Noleta is all messed up and really upset in the very beginning but then gets a real feeling of empowerment. She goes in there with guns loaded saying ‘you know what, I'm in charge now!' To me that sudden feeling of empowerment really has an effect on the women in the audience. "
By the time the final scene comes to a close, the audience is left feeling confident that this eccentric, dysfunctional family will be just fine. "In the end," Fisher concludes, "it's all about embracing your dirty laundry, embracing every skeleton in your family closet and just saying, ‘whatever'. It's learning to say to yourself, "it's all going to be ok."
The Bergen County Players current production of SORDID LIVES is now playing through June 5th, 2011 (no performances Memorial Day weekend) Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm.,
Tickets can be purchased online at www.bcplayers.org or by calling 201-261-4200 or at the box office.
For more information, please visit: www.bcplayers.org