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BWW Interview: of AN ACT OF GOD at Theatre Baton Rouge

Show opens November 13th

BWW Interview:  of AN ACT OF GOD at Theatre Baton Rouge

Theatre Baton Rouge presents its second live production during its current 75th season with AN ACT OF GOD written by David Javerbaum. The show runs November 13th-22nd. This hilarious comedy takes place during a question and answer session with God himself.

When life is anything but Heaven on Earth, God, assisted by his two devoted archangels, will have to face some deep questions that have plagued humanity since their creation. sat down with show director Clay Donaldson and actor Ren Price (God) about this "one-God show" and what kind of laugh out loud humor audiences can expect. What attracted you to direct this play?

Donaldson: When this show opened on Broadway, everyone talked about how hilarious it was and how perfect Jim Parsons (and later Sean Hayes) were as God. When Jenny Ballard-Mayfield asked me if I had interest in directing the show at TBR, I read the script and realized, 'Wow, this actually IS hilarious.' AN ACT OF GOD is exciting because it does not exclude anyone group of people from God's judgment - as God says in the script, "...all are equally suitable in my eyes."

BWW: What are some of the themes involved?

Donaldson: God's ability to admit that He is imperfect and that he is still learning from the human race is one of the overarching themes of the show. As humans, we like to think we become wise and truly see and understand how the world works, but if a being as high as God can admit that He has more to learn, it really puts things into perspective for us - we are just a small speck in the universe. God's realizations about His shortcomings even surprise his archangels Gabriel, played by Jonathan Thomas, and Michael, played by Dalton Major.

BWW: What is your vision for the show?

Donaldson: I wanted God and the archangels to appear as human as possible - they've come down to Earth for one night so let's have them leave their wings back home. My biggest goal was to get down to the heart of this comedy - we all love to laugh, but I think it will be refreshing for someone who loves God to see Him have some very human moments.

BWW: What are your thoughts on the script?

Price: Just upon reading it, David Javerbaum's script is laugh-out-loud funny. It's so smart. Even as I'm saying some of the lines, I find myself laughing. I discover new things every time I read!

BWW: I've heard the show is described as a "one-God show." Can you elaborate on that?

Donaldson: Yes, the "one-God show" line gets me every time! God, played by the talented Ren Price, has come down from Heaven for one night only and uses local actor Ren's body as a vessel to get His word to the people of Earth. God is here to clarify (and even re-word) the Ten Commandments in hopes that mankind's sometimes questionable interpretation of His word can be reversed.

BWW: Why did you audition for the show, Ren? Did you specifically audition for the role of God?

Price: I auditioned for the show mainly because I needed theatre back in my life. Plus, I have been wanting to do a comedy for a long time now. Well, be careful what you wish for!

BWW: How have you prepared for this role?

Price: Line memorization. Research. Line memorization. Research. Line memorization. Research. It seems funny, but when I auditioned, I don't think I clearly understood what I was getting myself into. Keeping an audience captivated for an hour is hard work! But with the help of the cast and crew, I feel more than prepared to take on Our Heavenly Father.

BWW: Does the show have audience interaction?

Donaldson: Yes, but with a few changes. Due to COVID-19 and Theatre Baton Rouge's safety measures put in place to ensure the safety of our volunteers and patrons, no actors are entering the audience as instructed in the script. However, the audience members may not be completely safe from God's laughter at their expense. You'll have to come to the show and try your luck!

BWW: What are some questions you expect God to receive? What are some of the things God has to say to the audience?

Donaldson: When you really dive into the character of Michael, it becomes apparent that the "audience questions" he fields are not the audience's at all, but Michael's own. It's fun to watch Michael come up with creative ways to ask God the tough questions about humanity that plague his own mind while blaming the audience at the same time. There are no improv responses necessary, but God tends to get a little sidetracked on some of the questions, so there's always the possibility!

Price: God tells us that we are beautifully and wonderfully made - but there are some things that he wants to change about us!

BWW: How do the archangels assist you?

Price: Gabriel (Jonathan Thomas) is my right-hand man who keeps our show on track. I like to think that we do almost everything together. He totes the Gutenberg around, but it's not like he needs to! He knows it by heart!

Michael (Dalton Majors) is a very passionate angel. Passionate about humanity. And it shows. So much so that he interrupts me from time to time with questions from the audience, asking questions that (seemingly) everyone wants to know the answers to!

BWW: What do you want audiences to take away from watching the show?

Donaldson: My biggest hope for audiences who will see this show is entertainment. Since the beginning of the pandemic, it's been abundantly clear that we all crave escapism. When we've watched live or streamed theatrical performances, Netflix specials, and socially distanced award shows (to name a few), we've longed to feel something for a short period of time that makes us forget about our current circumstances. AN ACT OF GOD is a very light, comedic play, but I hope the audience has their hearts touched by this talented cast and leave feeling a bit more hopeful than they did when they walked in.

Price: I want our audiences to take away acceptance, an open mind, a full heart, and some Theatre Baton Rouge Merchandise!

BWW: Anything else you'd like to add?

Donaldson: This show has been a joy to bring to life with our talented cast, my assistant director Rebecca Smith and stage manager Emily Muller. Get your tickets now and plan to laugh for about an hour and a half!

Price: Theatre is vital in our world, and actors and designers and crew members are struggling to find their way around this roadblock. PLEASE SUPPORT THE ARTS IN ANY WAY YOU CAN!

Seating is limited to 40 patrons per performance, to allow for social distancing. This play is rated R.

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From This Author Tara Bennett