A new production of the unique and off-center staging [title of show] will debut at Nederhouser Community Hall on March 12, courtesy of Toledo’s theatrical risk takers Cutting Edge Theatre Company. The show, written by a pair of New York artists, went on to a successful Off-Broadway and Broadway run, garnering Obie and Tony award nominations.
The concept is a bit unusual. Invented by NYC-based writers Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell, the duo wrote a show about the process of themselves writing a play for the 2004 New York Musical Theatre Festival.
New and unique
Dennehy, also the co-founder and artistic director of Cutting Edge, first heard of [title of show] through friends in the theatre community, and it seemed to fit her theatrical tastes— and the production capabilities of a small company like Cutting Edge— like a glove. Everyone knows West Side Story, Oklahoma, Fiddler on the Roof. But how many have heard of the quirky, unique and meta shows like [title of show]? “Those are the kinds of musicals that I would like Cutting Edge to take on,” Dennehy said.
[title of show]’s cast, only four characters, is based on the two playwrights and their two friends, all of whom played themselves in the original stage productions. Since the Toledo cast— Jon Wray, Bradley King, Sarah Pettee and Katelyn Lesle— does not have the benefit of being quite as intimately familiar with their characters, Dennehy said the actors are making the characters their own.
“When I cast someone, [I look for] characteristics within that person that are similar to the character in the script,” she said. “So I’m not going to cast someone who is very definitely an ingenue for a role that’s hardcore, mouthy lady. Because that’s not who she is, in essence. And it’s the same thing with these characters.”
A piano and four chairs
For Dennehy, the goal of putting on a piece as unique as [title of show] lies in building trust with Cutting Edge’s audience. She hopes that eventually, the company’s name will be enough to convince attendees to see new shows they haven’t seen a dozen times already.
“Yes, we’ve done some things that have a name, like Little Shop of Horrors. But then we’re gonna also do things that maybe they’ve never heard of. And we’d like them to take a chance, that maybe it’ll be something really cool that they’ll be exposed to that they’ve never heard of before.”
As Cutting Edge celebrates its fifth anniversary, the company aims to find a more permanent home. Currently, they have to build their set right before a show and tear it all down again right after. But if [title of show] proves anything, it’s that a big idea can succeed even with a tiny budget.
“There’s a line in the show that says, ‘We went to Broadway with a piano and four chairs,’” Dennehy said. “Who does that? In Broadway nowadays, tens of thousands of dollars are on the line. And this show did well with a piano and four chairs. So there’s gotta be something to that, right?”
$20 | 8pm, March 12-14 | 2:30pm, March 15
Olander Park, 6930 Sylvania Ave., Sylvania
734-717-8776 | cuttingedgetheatre.org