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Dreams of Friendly Aliens at the Abingdon Theatre Company

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Dreams of Friendly Aliens
Abingdon Theatre Company
Dorothy Strelsin Theatre

Dreams of Friendly Aliens
By Daniel Damiano
At the
Abingdon Theatre Company
312 West 36th Street

Featuring: Lenore Loveman as Fretta Nutella, Jamie C. Ward as Jesse Chavarra, Gene Gallerano as Max Chavarra, Maureen Griffin as Mrs. Ricotta,
Brandon Jones as Officer Velazquez, and Max Arnaud as Officer Bryant

Directed by Kim T. Sharp
Scenic Design: Charlie Corcoran
Lighting Design: Matthew McCarthy
Costume Designer: Isabel Rubio
Sound Design: Graham Johnson
Production Manager: Pete Fry
Production Stage Manager: Genevieve Ortiz
Casting: William Schill
Associate Artistic Director: Kim T. Sharp
Press: Shirley Herz Associates
Director of Marketing: Michael Page

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 20, 2007

In the face of disaster, in fear of mortality, and in front of each other, family members cope in their own ways to personal loss, endless mystery, dwindling hope, and impending reality. This is the state of being for a family of three, a father, a son, a mother-in-law, and an offstage, missing mother, the source of grief. Each mourning member of this traumatized family dreams in his/her own way, a dream of explanation and resolution. One day Maria Chavarra went to the grocery store. She never returned. The car was found with the groceries in the trunk, but no sighting of Maria, and this is three months ago. Fretta Nutella, Maria’s mother, sits stiffly and dispassionately in a wheelchair, throughout this production, repetitively reciting small grocery lists and inane kitchen questions, plus the telling, “Where is Maria? When is she coming home?” It is not clear if Fretta has always been this detached from meaningful communication, but there she sits, waiting interminably for the human order that once was. Her dreams are subconscious.

Jesse Chavarra, Maria’s husband, an out-of-work security guard, roams the house in a bathrobe over his overly casual attire, not trusting his answer machine to do its job at the expected, pivotal moment, when Maria’s voice or whereabouts are called in. He is psychically frozen, as well, but sees himself as rational. His personal dream is one of alien abduction of Maria, a short spin about the universe, and then a happy return home. Max Chavarra, Maria’s teenage son, writes about the aliens and recites his own repetitive rap, just as annoying and incoherent as Fretta’s shopping list, while he implodes with repressed anger and boiling confusion.

To the rescue, or not, is Mrs. Ricotta, Max’ high school guidance counselor, seemingly compassionate, very articulate, poised and professional, supportive, and, yes, dreaming too, dreaming of Max’ bright future as a writer and his immediate need for the perfect therapist and a “mental health leave”. Then two non-dreamers, both police officers, Officers Velazquez and Bryant, provide the final, real structure that defines reality. Daniel Damiano, playwright, has captured the indescribable angst of waiting for the unknown, surrounding illness, estrangement, abduction, or any of dozens of reasons for psychic frost. Whether he, as a playwright, bases this acute drama on personal or imagined experience, Mr. Damiano does so with searing insight and painful perfection. At times, the personification of pain is almost too much to bear.

Kim T. Sharp has directed Jamie C. Ward (Jesse) and Gene Gallerano (Max) to let it all out. There are typical parent vs. adolescent scenes with marijuana, money, earphone rap, bad grades, bad behavior, disrespect, disarray, and signature generational conflict. Mr. Ward plays his role with edge and explosion. Mr. Gallerano plays his role with palpable frustration and emotional hunger. Lenore Loveman (Fretta), on the other hand, is directed to fuse the absence of conscious thinking with a hint of subconscious intuition. When the reality drivers, Maureen Griffin (Mrs. Ricotta) or the two Officers (Brandon Jones and Max Arnaud), appear, the audience senses normality, but with a nervous undertone. Each of them seems foreboding of an inevitable, unspeakable outcome.

Charlie Corcoran’s scenery brings the audience at this intimate theatre into the characters’ living room, close enough to touch props and actors. Lighting, costumes, and sound are all a propos to a spartan, Northern NJ family, residing in the present, while living in their dreams. As Jesse insisted, more than once, “Dreams Don’t Lie”.

To purchase tickets to Dreams of Friendly Aliens, go to SmartTix.

Before or after attending an Abingdon Theatre Company production, visit Seven, a lively and elegant bistro, with comfortable booths and an international menu, 350 Seventh Avenue between 29th and 30th Streets, 212.967.1919. Tell them you saw them mentioned on

Photo of Gene Gallerano, Jamie C. Ward, and Lenore Loveman
Photo courtesy of Kim T. Sharp

Photo of Jamie C. Ward and Maureen Griffin
Photo courtesy of Kim T. Sharp

Photo of Lenore Loveman and Jamie C. Ward
Photo courtesy of Kim T. Sharp

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at