Ring (Father) in a wheelchair
WRITES ABOUT THE CHANGES FOR 2002: The new production should
be much more immediate for the audience. We have revised the script and
the directors and designers working together have created some great new
The changes start with a
largely revised script, but hardly end there. Jeff and Ed and I looked
at the areas in the script where the daughter or the father narrated memories
and developed dialogue and action to show, instead of tell, the memories.
In addition, the set, designed by Jan Chambers, uses sheer black curtains
to illustrate events in memory. The music is now provided by Greg Bell,
James Leva, Julie Oliver, and Joe Newberry, under the direction of Joe
Newberry. Although Julie and Greg did not know and work with Dad, they
have worked with so many others who have, they feel that they knew him.
Julie is a talented and versatile musician who worked in Bah Humbug
among many other productions. Greg is a terrific musician who has done
a lot of work with Mike Craver and plays piano with the same loving articulation
I am used hearing from Mike. James and Joe both know and have worked directly
with my Dad. All of these musicians are extremely accomplished folks who
have tremendous experience in musical theater. The music is a more
integral part of the show, weaving in and out of scenes. One of the most
salient changes is the addition of a scene to show Tommy at the height
of his career. This scene is a musical song and dance number, the result
of collaboration between Jeff Storer, Barbara Dickinson, and Joe Newberry.
Audiences who remember Tommy's career should get a little taste from this
scene of Mama Fantastic (from Diamond Studs), Merchants Lunch,
and Tommy's one man show, John Proffit. All of the musicians play
small roles in the play as well. Two other changes I want to mention are
the addition of a scene which takes place in the original Hollow Rock Store,
and the use of slides in the conclusion of the show, to illustrate very
real memories. Visually and dramatically it has come alive: it is exciting,
funny, and tragic.
As Jeff put it, "Theater
is a collaboration between the playwrights, the designers, the actors,
and the director." It is no longer just my story, but (we hope) a universal
story of growing up. I am honored that Jeff Storer and Ed Hunt liked my
work and wanted to help develop it. I'm honored that Manbites Dog Theater
is producing it, and honored that the show has received the gift of attention
from fine, fine people and artists like Marcia Edmundson and David Ring,
Joe Newberry, Julie Oliver, Greg Bell, James Leva, Jan Chambers, Rachel
Zielenski, Barbara Dickinson, Jesse Belsky, Kay Webb, and Michael Brocki.
I am honored that it is being supported by people in this community who
believe in it, and who believe in Manbites Dog Theater, and I am grateful
for the tremendous personal and professional education I have received
through this process.
When I watch rehearsals I
am filled with happy anticipation. I think we have a great show here.