Next Stop, Nightmare at ABC No Rio

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Every night there are a seemingly infinite number of things to do in NYC. Of course, most of those events are hard to discover, or evaluate in advance.

Lois and I go to Broadway shows on occasion (always with friends), but we don’t typically seek out plays. We spend most of our free time (whatever that means) attending musical events. One of the completely unexpected benefits of attending so many shows was meeting a group of like-minded music-lovers that we now count as friends!

Two of those people are Jason Black and Shannon Black (yes, they’re married). We met them at a Livestrong fundraiser, and I wrote a post about that night. In addition to having a day job, Jason is also a playwright. At a musical show in July, Jason told me that one of his plays would be presented on August 12th and 13th. I told him that we’d be there!

The evening was billed as An Hour of Theatre and was presented at ABC No Rio. Two plays were presented with a 10-minute intermission between them, all fitting into one hour, start-to-finish. It’s a nice concept!

JoshMedskerJasonBlack

Jason’s was the second of the evening, called Next Stop, Nightmare. I’ll start with that one because it’s the reason we went. Jason wrote and directed.

The title gives away the entire plot, but I won’t. 😉

In roughly 20 minutes, Jason and his five actors (Shannon was the lead actor!) take us on a trip. It’s mostly a comedy, but dotted with reasonably dramatic moments. Many clever lines (delivered well and with good timing) that had nearly every person in the audience laughing pretty hard.

When it ended, I was sure it was the end, but no one in the audience (including me) clapped. That’s because even though the ending was satisfying, everyone was absorbed in the story, and it could have continued seamlessly and I believe everyone was waiting (and perhaps hoping a bit) to see if it would!

Jason had to announce from the back corner: “It’s over folks, that’s it!”. At that point a very long round of applause began, and didn’t end until all five actors had left the room.

I already knew that Jason was smart and funny, but now I know that he can translate that innate ability to the written page, as well as direct others to ensure that his vision is delivered to the audience. Bravo!

Shannon Lyne Black as Mandi (Shannon was excellent, but now I won’t be able to trust anything she says, since I know she can act) 😉

Jimmy Juste as Driver

Annie Briggs as Candi

Christopher Wharton as Passenger

Rory A. McEvoy as Rusty

All of the above were very good!

ShannonBlackRoryAMcEvoyJimmyJusteChristopherWhartonAnnieBriggs

The first play was written and directed by Josh Medsker, called Spenard. It’s a one-person show (in this case a female actor) playing six separate roles.

I am not a fan of multi-role one-person plays. One of Lois’ favorite shows on Broadway was Patrick Stewart doing all 35 roles in A Christmas Carol. It was torture for me, and I love Patrick Stewart and love A Christmas Carol as well. Unfortunately, Spenard didn’t change my opinion of the genre.

It’s a gritty look at six different characters who share Alaska as their common thread. Each has their own problems and each has their own ambitions. Each is talking to an imaginary character to tell us their story in dialogue form.

I think that the actor, Betsy Bell did as good a job as one could expect, but like I said, it’s not really my cup of tea. Still, I was exposed to something new, and it lasted 25 minutes, so it wasn’t hard to get through.

ABC No Rio may have a number of different rooms, but we were in a relatively small one with no physical stage. There were roughly 35 folding chairs out and all of them filled up in a few minutes. Jason had to bring out more and stick them in front of the first row and along the wall, so that the last few people in were practically sharing the stage with the cast.

They couldn’t have asked for a better turnout or a more enthusiastic audience.

I know it’s late to be saying this, but they’re doing it again tonight (August 13th, 2010), so if you are reading this seconds after I post it, you still have time to get there (assuming you live near NYC that is…). 😉