Midtown International Theatre Festival
Exec. Producer: John Chatterton
Assoc. Producer: Theater Resources Unlimited
Managing Director: Emileena Pedigo
Marketing Director: Bob Ost
Press: Judd Hollander/Cynthia Leathers
Festival Lighting Designer: Gustavo Araoz
Venue Manager, Where Eagles Dare: Sarah Bellin
Venue Manager, WorkShop Theatre: Jonathan Jackson
Venue Manager, WorkShop Theatre: Stephanie Ward
Box Office Managers: Jenny Greeman, Colleen Jasinski
July 16, 2007-August 5, 2007
Two Plays by Luigi Jannuzzi
(Luigi Jannuzzi Website)
All the King’s Women
Produced and Written By Luigi Jannuzzi
Co-Produced and Directed by Branan Whitehead
Stage Manager: Lloyd Fass
Featuring: Jessica Asch, Rebecca Bateman,
Alisha Campbell, Craig Clary
Exhibit This! The Museum Comedies
By Luigi Jannuzzi
Directed by Elizabeth Rothan
Featuring: Emily Beatty, Joseph Franchini, Dawn E. McGee,
Jasmin Singer, Charles F. Wagner IV, Bruce Barton,
Dustin C. Burrell, Billy Lane, Perryn Pomatto, Peter Stoll
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 6, 2007
Luigi Jannuzzi is an inspiring, warm, and energized playwright, one who greets his audience as if they were guests in his home. He is eager to relate, both on a personal and professional level. His plays unfold in such an intimate and genuine way. Mr. Jannuzzi is an educator and producer, and he elevates thoughts to aesthetic realms in fresh and fascinating ways. He writes about Elvis Presley fans and Met Museum art with educated and unconventional twists.
All the King’s Women is divided into eight vignettes. In each vignette, characters, mostly women, recall or discuss encounters with The King, in chronological order, from 1946 to the present day. Jannuzzi uses a static old radio as a prop to deliver timely news bulletins of the day between vignettes. Where Eagles Dare is a small, first floor theatre, and the up-front ambiance was well suited to the play’s dynamics. In the first vignette, Jessica Asch is a folksy saleswoman in a country store who sold Elvis his first guitar. (The actors’ Southern accents are well perfected). In “The Censor & The King”, Rebecca Bateman, Alisha Campbell, and Ms. Asch plan Elvis’ behavior and language, in view of an imminent appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. Another vignette related to Elvis’ meeting with Nixon, as three switchboard operators gush and gawk at the renowned guest’s arrival.
In “Pink Cadillacs & God”, a car dealer (Craig Clary) and two saleswomen argue about who will or will not sell Elvis one more Cadillac. They debate the pros and cons of taking charge, in view of a potential loss or a successful sale. “Leaving Graceland” brings all four actors together for a humorous take on the crass commercialization of the Graceland trinkets, all well catalogued and packaged for eager tourists. The irony of this vignette is that Jannuzzi was prevented from using Elvis Presley’s likeness or music at any point in this well-conceived production, because of the excusive rights of Elvis’ estate. The lack of Elvis’ iconic music was a true disappointment, as I was an original Elvis fan and had been eager for a show about this star. The music would have added zest and personality to the imagery of the unseen singer. There was no Elvis character. However, Jannuzzi worked with his biographical and dramatic material with smooth transitions and captivating creativity.
Alisha Campbell, Jessica Asch, Rebecca Bateman in ALL THE KING'S WOMEN
Photo courtesy of Luigi Jannuzzi
Exhibit This! The Museum Comedies is a clever series of vignettes, much like All the King’s Women, only, in this case, Jannuzzi apparently had the Met Museum’s permission to use slides or likenesses of 26 paintings, sculptures, or mummies. But, where the Presley play had eight vignettes, the Met play had six plays and six monologues, a lot for one sitting. Yet, the art works were presented and personified with such knowledge and humor that it was thoroughly delightful to experience this production. There were portrait paintings (1877 and 1919) that fought and flirted with each other and their artists, mummies embalmed and mummies of bones of 2350 BC that feared storage and cats, characters in Seurat’s 1885 “A Sunday of La Grande Jatte” who literally escaped, and an 18th century Watteau musician who was dynamic and devilish.
Centuries disappeared between vignettes, much as decades disappeared between vignettes in All the King’s Women. African sculptures dance in contemporary rhythms, and Socrates has a cell phone. The tour guide, Jasmin Singer, is on the mark, witty and faux esoteric. The actors personify these visual characters from the art world with nuance and texture. Luigi Jannuzzi is a playwright to watch.
Bruce Barton in EXHIBIT THIS! - THE MUSEUM COMEDIES
Photo courtesy of Luigi Jannuzzi
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