Backstage: Two D.C. troupes take their shows on the road

June 25, 2013

It’s that time of year again: Everybody wants to get out of town.

Urban dwellers are ready to swap the sweltering city for the seashore. Rusty the Red Panda broke out of his cage; Edward Snowden busted out of the country. Just about everyone on “Mad Men” wants to move to California. There’s no place like home, except in the summer, when there’s no place like anywhere else.

Get-out-of-town fever has hit Washington theater, too: Dizzy Miss Lizzie’s Roadside Revue and Dog & Pony DC are taking their shows on tour.

A Killing Game,” Dog & Pony DC’s interactive, absurdist
party-game/performance, went to the Cincinnati Fringe Festival (known as Cincy Fringe) this month. “The Brontes,” Dizzy Miss Lizzie’s rock-and-roll take on literary sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne and their brother Branwell, is headed to the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF, pronounced like “nymph”) at the beginning of next month.

Dog & Pony DC’s show premiered at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop in December and will be part of the Capital Fringe Festival next month. Colin K. Bills, the director of “A Killing Game,” described the process of putting together a Dog & Pony DC show: It takes at least 18 months and, more likely, two years, for the team to put together a complete production.

“When you have a process that’s that long, you kind of want to live with it a little longer,” said Bills. “You want to present it as many times as you can.” Bills, along with Dog & Pony DC co-founder Rachel Grossman, has been working on a touring model for the company so its shows can go “to fringe festivals, smaller theater festivals, larger theaters’ second spaces . . . and the Cincy Fringe was really our first foray into that.”

Cincy Fringe is a juried festival, unlike the come-one, come-all model of Capital Fringe here in the District, “so it has a little more cachet,” Bills said. And there are prizes! Dog & Pony DC was awarded the Dr. Robert J. Thierauf Producers’ Pick of the Fringe.

With only 30 shows and a track record of sending shows from relative obscurity to Broadway — “Next to Normal” and the one-act musical called “[title of show]” both got their start at the festival — NYMF is the most visible platform Dizzy Miss Lizzie’s has enjoyed to date.

The cost of bringing “The Brontes” to New York is about $25,000 for production fees, renting the space (the play will be performed at the Signature Theatre on 42nd Street), travel, hiring a publicist for the run, paying the actors and crew, and lodging, said Steve McWilliams, the play’s co-author. Dizzy Miss Lizzie’s raised just over $7,000 on Kickstarter and is funding the rest “through the generosity of our friends, family and fans,” co-author Debra Buonaccorsi said.

“I’m a huge Bronte fan and I have been for much of my life, and I think there’s something really appealing about this story,” Buonaccorsi said. “Which is funny because a lot of people thought, ‘The Brontes? That’s a terrible idea. That’s the most boring thing I’ve ever heard.’ But it’s these four misfit siblings, and all they have in the world is each other. It’s this family story.”

McWilliams stressed that every­one involved in the production is District-based, including the actors, technicians and designers. “In D.C., they tout that we’re the second-largest theater city in the country, [but other theater companies] are all bringing in talent from New York,” he said. “We have so much quality talent right here. We don’t need to bring people in.”

To be invited to NYMF, he said, is a big boon for Washington. “You’re actually asking a totally Washington, D.C., company to come up and do a show in New York. I think that’s a real boost in D.C.”

“A Killing Game” runs July 11 to July 28 at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company’s Melton Rehearsal Hall, 641 D St. NW. Tickets at www.capitalfringe.org.

“The Brontes” runs July 9 to July 16 at Signature Theatre 480 W. 42nd St., New York. Tickets at www.nymf.org.

GALA’s 38th season

GALA Hispanic Theatre’s 38th season features all the elements you’ll recognize as GALA staples: a lot of dance, a lot of music and plenty of Spanish-language productions. (Half of the season will be performed in Spanish with English surtitles.) Hugo Medrano, co-founder and producing artistic director, talked Backstage through the four shows that make up GALA’s 2013-14 season:

‘Cabaret Barroco: Interludes of Spain’s Golden Age’

By Calderón de la Barca, Francisco de Quevedo and Bernardo de Quirós, adapted by Mar Zubieta and Paco Rojas.

Directed by José Luis Arellano García.

Sept. 12 to Oct. 6.

“It’s a bunch of small pieces from the Spanish Golden Age,” Medrano said. “The music and songs of the time with a touch of contemporary flavor.” “Cabaret Barroco” is produced in collaboration with Acción Sur.

‘La Señorita de Tacna/The Young Lady from Tacna’

By Mario Vargas Llosa.

Directed by José Carrasquillo.

Feb. 6 to March 9, 2014.

“It’s a very tender play,” said Medrano, “about the passion of the playwright [and] creating a story: how that story is created and what the elements are.” “Young Lady from Tacna” will be presented in Spanish with English surtitles.

‘Living Out’

By Lisa Loomer.

Directed by Abel López.

April 24 to May 18, 2014.

A Salvadoran nanny cares for the children of Nancy, a lawyer in America, while trying to support her own children back home. “It’s a very interesting play because it has the themes of human relations from different perspectives,” Medrano said. The play — first presented in 2008 — will be performed in English with Spanish surtitles.

‘Puro Tango II’

Conceived and directed by Hugo Medrano.

Musical direction by Alvaro Hagopián.

June 5 to June 22, 2014.

This musical revue about the creators of tango, featuring dancers from Argentina and Uruguay, is “going to focus a little bit more on the role of the woman in tango,” said Medrano. “That is an important talent that is still being kind of put aside: the [female] tango singer. There is always a tendency to hear the tango sang by men, not necessarily by a woman.” “Puro Tango II” will be in Spanish with English surtitles.

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