Azuka Theatre Presents Philadelphia Premiere Of BOB: A LIFE IN FIVE ACTS
Azuka Theatre presents the return of the Virginia & Harvey Kimmel New Professionals Production with the Philadelphia Premiere of BOB: A Life in Five Acts by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb. BOB chronicles the highly unusual life of Bob and his lifelong quest to become a "Great Man." The play is a comedic exploration of American mythology and values, the treacherous pursuit of happiness, and discovering what it means to be truly "great." This everyman tale is directed by Michael Osinski, who previously directed Azuka's Moth. This new professional's production features the rising talent of Paul Harrold, Sabriaya Shipley, Frank Jimenez, Claris Park and Dan D'Albis. BOB runs from February 27 to March 17, with opening night set for Saturday, March 2, 2019 at 7:00pm. Azuka continues its pay-what-you-decide model for this show where audiences are invited to experience the art on stage and pay what they think it is worth after. For reservations, visit azukatheatre.org. BOB runs 120 minutes, included one intermission, and is recommended for audiences 15+. Azukathanks production sponsor Harmelin Media.
"BOB: A Life in Five Acts is full of wide-eyed characters that is a perfect fit for a season about outcasts and underdogs - and that also explores the idea of masculinity," said Osinski. "The story is part Forrest Gump and part Candide. The main character is abandoned at birth in a White Castle. As he grows up he travels the country to find out how to be a great man - and how to get his name on a plaque and be 'truly' remembered. There is something light and entertaining about the show, but also sentimental too. While I will hope audiences decide for themselves if the show and ending are optimistic, I think there is an optimistic message that runs throughout the story."
BOB: A Life in Five Acts is a grand tale that spans birth to death, from America to Mexico, with dozens of true American characters along the way - all played by Philadelphia's up-and-coming theatre stars.
Born and abandoned in the bathroom of a fast food restaurant, Bob energetically embarks on an epic journey across America and encounters inspiring generosity, crushing hardships, blissful happiness, stunning coincidences, wrong turns, lucky breaks, true love and heartbreaking loss. Along the way, Bob meets a myriad of fellow countrymen all struggling to find their own place in the hullaballoo of it all. Will Bob's real life ever be able to live up to his dream? Audiences are invited to find out.
BOB is part of Azuka's season that focuses on people on the sidelines and the also-rans - but specially characters that feel alienated, motivated and warped by their concept of masculinity - along with its perils and pitfalls.
"We are focusing the season on this idea of what does it mean to be a man in today's world," said Azuka Producing Artistic Director Kevin Glaccum. "The plays this year look at the ideas of masculinity - toxic and other wise - and what qualities add up to being a good man. Bob's entire journey is based on this idea that he wants to be a 'great man', and yet he has no idea what that even means."
For BOB, Azuka teamed up again with Osinski - who directed Moth in 2016. In fact, BOB found its way to Azuka by way of Osinski, as he had directed a previous student production of the play. The story and characters were a fit for Azuka and what was shaping up for the season.
Glaccum said, "I've admired Michael Osinski's work since he ran Flashpoint Theater and since he directed Moth for us," added Glaccum. "He did a beautiful job, so it was a no brainer to bring him back again. Both Mothand BOB are New Professional shows and Michael has a special affinity for working with young artists that makes him the ideal choice for this show."
BOB represents Azuka's 8th New Professionals Production - shows that spotlight the talents of rising theatre stars in Philadelphia. Paul Harrold will play Bob, and the chorus of dozens of other characters will be played by Sabriaya Shipley, Frank Jimenez, Claris Park and Dan D'Albis.
When asked why this play was a great fit for New Professionals, Osinski said, "The play is definitely a challenge for these young actors as they play nearly a half dozen characters each. It is a great match for a New Professionals production as it lets them dive in and really show what they can do. There's tons of rich material to work with."
BOB was written by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb with the support of the Playwrights Foundation, San Francisco. The play received its World Premiere in March 2011 at The Humana Festival for New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville. The play won the 2010 Barrie and Bernice Stavis Award from the National Theatre Conference.
"Peter's script fits in with what we say about many Azuka shows - they are funny until they aren't, "added Glaccum. "The first thing that draws me to a play are the characters - and BOB has some of the funniest, quirkiest characters I've encountered in a long time."
The production team for BOB will serve up one tall (tale) order - and bring audiences on a cross-country journey that makes stops across America and into Mexico. The set features a large map of the United States. Actors will use found objects and magically pull props from areas on set the audience didn't know existed. Osinski said, "It will resemble a live action illustrated story book for adults."
Bob's production team includes regional familiar names and Azuka alums, as well as new team members, including Dustin L. Pettegrew (Scenic Design), Nate Hart (Lighting Design), Gina Colacci (Costume Design), Damien Figueras (Sound Design), Alexandra Curth (Properties), Bianca Canosa (Stage Manager), Michael Cosenza (Fight Choreography), Megan Schumacher (Assistant Director), Matthew Hultgren (Voice & Movement Coach), Lauren Tracy (Production Manager), Joe Daniels (Technical Director), Flannel & Hammer (Scenic Construction).
Azuka continues its commitment to the community by extending the innovative pay-what-you-decide box office initiative for the 2018-2019 season. Audience members for BOB: A Life in Five Acts will make a reservation for a show, see the production first and then pay what they decide based on the value of the experience.
No money is exchanged before the show. Tickets will be available to reserve in advance as usual, but there is no obligation to pay until after the show. Patrons can then decide on a price which they think is suitable based on their experience. Ticket payment can be made after the performance by cash, check or credit card. All money collected helps to pay Azuka artists and further support future productions.
As part of this production, Azuka will present pre-show happy hours sponsored by Two Roads Brewing Company on March 8 and 15, 2019, from 7:00pm to 8:00pm.
Azuka will end the 2018-2019 season with an exciting world premiere by a Philadelphia Playwright. Boycott Esther by Emily Acker, and directed by Maura Krause, will run from May 1-19, 2019, at the Proscenium Theatre at The Drake.
For show, special event and reservation information, please visit azukatheatre.org or call (215) 563-1100.