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Lab’s 24-Hour Playwriting theme paid tribute to burlesque this year


Although Aricka Shuck’s A Night in Shangri-Ooh-La-La took Critic’s Choice and Audience Favorite honors at this year’s Lab Theater 24-Hour Playwriting Project, every playwright who entered the competition was truly a winner.

Besides Shuck, the event’s other three playwrights each produced fun and interesting 17-20 minute comedies that embraced this year’s overarching theme: burlesque.

Candice Sanzari wrote Bare All, which featured a Ukranian spy pretending to be a corn-fed, middle west, apple-pie wholesome, All-American girl who’s actually infiltrating a struggling theater that’s performing burlesque without the proper certifications. Directed by Kendra Weaver, the show’s highlights included a booty-licious dance by Caitlynn Crawford and a scene in which Lilli Orr’s miniature toy poodle attacks mean ole Kristen Wilson, who’s decked out in purple robe and hair net.

This is Sanzari’s second year in a row at the 24-Hour contest. Last year, Sanzari won the Critics’ Choice Award for her one-act play Thanksgiving is for Nutters, which featured a caustic, condescending landlady, a prickly pill-popping pixie and a cross-dresser prone to whole body paroxysms each time he heard a grammatical mistake such as “irregardless” or “these ones.”

Go here for more on Candice Sanzari.

Nutter’s prickly pill-popping pixie was Kayleigh O’Connell, who made the leap from actor to playwright this year. Between 9:00 p.m. on Friday night and the 7:00 a.m. table read on Saturday morning, she produced a piece called Bagelesque. Directed by Misha Ritter Polomsky, Bagelesque featured Liz Mora, Kinley Gomez and Dave Rode, whose character suffered from a twitch triggered by laughter. Among Bagelesque’s many highlights was a slow-motion fight between Rode and Gomez’s characters.

While this was O’Connell’s first time pulling the 24-Hour Playwriting all-nighter, a glutton for punishment, Kayleigh vows to return next year.

Go here for more on Kayleigh O’Connell.

Speaking of returning, Darlyne Franklin came back again this year to write A Night at the Elks, a piece that revolved around Smack Daddy Donald Drump, a character who was required by her handicap to sound like the reality TV host in vocal tone and syntax. Directed by Casey Davis, A Night at the Elks featured Charlie Greer, Sue Schaffel as the Donald’s wife, and Abe De La Rosa. In creating her central character, who does a memorable burlesque for the Elks, Franklin not only captured Donald Trump’s tone and syntax, but much of his self-aggrandizing oratory filled with fractured, unfinished sentences that listeners to finish for him and time-tested speech mechanisms that salesmen traditionally use (like “many people are saying,” “believe me” and “I can tell you that”). That Franklin was able to incorporate so many mannerisms into Donald Drump Smack Daddy suggests that she is either an astute psychoanalyst or spends entirely too much time watching Fox News, CNN and/or MSNBC.

Last year, Franklin wrote a dark comedy that revolved around a young woman so disenchanted with her male roommate that she’d taken to slipping antifreeze into his beverage of choice. Franklin is known by many as the woman who wrote the popular and highly-produced interactive play Joey & Maria’s Comedy Italian Wedding.

For more on Darlyne, go here.

As if it wasn’t tough enough to write something compelling in just ten or so hours that included handicaps, each playwright had to incorporate three sound cues and three lines of dialogue into their plays.

The former consisted of the trills and churrs of a distant lark, the sound of screeching tires heard outside of the venue and several bars of David Rose’s famous burlesque standard “The Stripper” (it was the obvious choice, although “Whatever Lola Wants,” “Susie-Q” or “Lady Marmalade” would have worked equally well).

The three lines of dialogue included “Stop eating that, it’s not food;” “You new here?” and “I’ll bet $20 that they’ll lick it.”

It’s a testament to the creative elan shared by this year’s participants that they were able to do so much in such a short amount of time. Come to think of it, only Santa Claus does more in a single evening.

November 26, 2019.



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