BWW Review: 10-MINUTE COMEDY PLAY FESTIVAL at RITZ THEATRE COMPANY Proves Comedy is the Best Medicine
It is often said that us artsy folk are perhaps not as quick at math as our non-theatrical brethren, but I have a simple equation: 14 plays divided by 2 performances minus elaborate production elements plus 3 judges equals an exciting weekend of theatre!
This weekend, Ritz Theatre Company in Haddon Township, NJ hosted its first ever 10-Minute Comedy Play Festival as a part of the theatre's annual June Black Box series.
The Ritz' June Black Box Festival, also fondly referred to as the "Little Ritz", is a more intimate theatrical setting for Ritz' performers as well as audience members. The theatre builds out the stage to extend over the first few rows of seats in the theatre. The audience is then seated on the stage and the actors perform "in the round".
The 10-Minute Comedy Play Festival was the first production in this year's June Black Box series which will also feature new play readings, workshops of original shows, and even a full production of the musical "The Apple Tree".
Ritz 10-Minute Comedy Play Festival was an evening full of hearty laughs. Earlier this year, Ritz Theatre solicited scripts, and after having received 87 submission, the theatre chose 14 plays to produce as a part of this two day comedic collation. Over the course of two days, the top 14 plays were performed with half of the shows performing on Friday May 31st in the evening and the second half performing Saturday June 1st in the afternoon. After Saturday's matinee, the judges, (Kumar Dari, Randy Peterson, and Alex Wilkie) chose the top seven to perform again on Saturday night.
The top seven plays were: "Little Deaths" by Kevin O'Brian and directed by Sara Rabatin, "Meeting Heaven" by Heidi Mae and directed by Amber Kusching, "The Last Shirt Off His Back" by Jim Moss and directed by Amber Kusching, "What Friends Are For" by Ken Teutsch and directed by Mike Grubb, "I, Phone" by Tom Moran and directed by Bruce A. Curless, "What You Wish For" by Scott Gibson and directed by Ryan Strack, and "Snickerdoodle" by Eric Rupp and directed by Melissa Harnois.
Of these seven plays, three plays were chosen as winners with the playwrights winning monetary prizes. Winning third place was Kevin O'Brian's silly script "Little Deaths" taking humor in the subject of mortality (performed by Julianne McIntosh and Beatrice Alonna, directed by Sara Rabatin). Second place was awarded to Eric Rupp's farce on a "coming out" story where a girl comes out to her parents as wanting to be a clown (performed by Alex Phillips, Jay Burton, and Beatrice Alonna, directed by Melissa Harnois). And first place winner was Ken Teutsch's "What Friends Are For" about a man contemplating suicide and instead of his friend talking him out of it, he offers to murder him (performed by Mike Grubb and Kyle Jacobus, directed by Mike Grubb).
All of the authors, directors and actors who were a part of the final round on Saturday evening will receive complementary tickets to The Ghosts of Ravenswood manor by Kumar Dari.
All of the short comedies in the 10-Minute Comedy Play Festival were produced with minimalistic production elements and featured very simple set design, costumes and props. The festival highlighted the strong writing, incredible acting and creative directing. Producing the plays "in the round" made the festival intimate, engaging and exciting, especially since several plays directly included the audience in their productions by making eye contact, talking with them and "breaking the fourth wall", and even handing them props.
The 10-Minute Comedy Play Festival was an amazing compilation of the work of local theatre artists to stage original short plays in a fun festival. And not only was the play fun and exciting, it was extremely funny, having me belly-laughing more than a few times. After Saturday evening's performance, Producing Artistic Director, and 10 Minute Comedy Play Fest's emcee, Bruce A. Curless, announced that the one act festival will return next June! So mark your calendars now.
Next on The Ritz' stage is "The Apple Tree" opening June 7th and next on The Ritz' mainstage is "The Music Man" opening July 11th. For more information about Ritz Theatre Company and to purchase tickets for upcoming productions, please visit www.ritztheatreco.org.