It's one thing to throw three Tennessee Williams plays -- Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire -- into a pot and mix them up for some serious vamping. But Krewe Des Sept is taking the wackiness to another level with this set-up. Part of the reason has been good news: the suddenly growing film industry work available to actors and crew in New Orleans.
"It creates a challenge for the theater community, but it's been fantastic as long as they keep casting here and not New York or L.A.," says Grice, who scored a bit part in last year's Runaway Jury. "It'll be a nice little boom, and there are more projects coming up during the year. It's been a problem but a good problem."
There's no knocking the talent on display here; many of the Krewe Des Sept company are refugees from Baton Rouge's Swine Palace Productions, including Grice, Leighton, Frankle Molina and Tony Molina. And if anyone can handle the musical chairs of casting, it's director Carl Walker, who's been sitting on the script for The Glass Mendacity, written by Maureen Morley and Tom Willmorth, for years.
At a time when Tennessee Williams spoofs are starting to feel a dime a dozen, Walker believes this one is particularly hilarious. "That language is so poetic and overwrought the characters have certainly become archetypes, if not stereotypes," says Walker, who's taken a swing at a few of Williams' works with the notable exception of Streetcar ("I'm no fool," he says).
"How many catch phrases have come from Tennessee Williams plays?" he continues. "What the writers have done [with The Glass Mendacity] is arranged it so that different characters from different plays converge. Big Daddy and Big Amanda and all of their children. Brick is a child married to Maggie. Blanche is a daughter married to Stanley. Laura collects, but can't collect glass because she'll cut herself, so they give her ice cubes and party molds to make ice figurines that are forever melting. And there's a combination character of Tom and Mitch, who calls on Laura but falls in love with Blanche, and is the narrator."
The result is a potentially hilarious story.
"Every single time we read it, we're cracking each other up," Grice says.
This is a scaled-down version of the play (no set, scripts in hand), which the Krewe hopes to mount as a full production sometime in the future. Right now, they're trying to raise money for the troupe. They launched a fundraiser in the fall with a presentation of Fat Girl Follies but actually lost money on the show. (Portions of the Glass Mendacity production proceeds will also benefit Belle Reve AIDS Assisted Living Facility.)
"We were inspired during Batboy last year," says Grice, who co-starred with fellow Swine Palace alumni Andre Du Broc in that Southern Rep production. "I felt that theatrically in my age and time, I peaked. So I thought, what's next? We want to choose our own work.
"We want to keep our artists in town," says Grice, who won two Big Easy Entertainment Awards last year and is up for another this year. "I'm not going anywhere. I've got work in New York and L.A., but made peace that this is my home and this is where I'll make my career. We're just trying to create some better theater and hopefully expand the audience base."
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