Burning Coal Theatre Company will stage 41-year-old Boston, MA-born dramatist and lyricist David Lindsey-Abaire’s wild-and-crazy 2000 comedy Wonder of the World, directed by J. Chachula and presented in collaboration with The Delta Boys, on Aug. 4, 5, 7, and 11-14 as part of its 2011-12 “Wait Til You See This!” second-stage series.
“[Producer] Kevin Ferguson and Kathryn LeTrent contacted me about directing a show for them,” recalls J. Chachula, “and when they decided against that particular script, the three of us scrambled to find another. Kevin is a big fan of the script and actually uses Wonder of the World in his acting classes at Cardinal Gibbons, and Kathryn really liked it as well. When I read it, I felt the same way and thought it was a good fit for the three of us.”
Chachula adds, “I’ve always liked directing comedies, and [Wonder of the World] is quite funny. I’m a fan of Christopher Durang’s early work, and [Wonder of the World playwright David] Lindsey-Abaire has a similar style. Durang was a mentor of his, actually.
“I wanted to direct [Wonder of the World], because it was an opportunity to explore some issues I’m interested in, such as marriage,” Chachula confesses. “The play’s take on marriage is funny, and at the same time quite true, I think. I’ve also enjoyed digging into the concept of Fate and Destiny.
“I think many of us — maybe even most human beings — have a deep need for that particular sense of security, whether you’re religious or not,” says J. Chachula.
When the curtain rises on Wonder of the World, J. Chachula says, “Cass (Kathryn LeTrent) has just discovered something disturbing about her husband, Kip (Wyatt Geist), something that makes her question every choice she’s made since meeting him. She leaves him, and sets off with nothing more than a suitcase, an odd lunch, and a passionate need to reclaim the life she was meant to have.
“[Cass] meets Lois (Olivia Griego), an acerbic alcoholic, on a bus headed for Niagara Falls, and the two strike up an unlikely friendship,” Chachula explains. “At the Falls, the two meet Glen (Al Singer) and Karla (Jan Doub Morgan), friendly tourists who are not quite what they seem.
“Determined to fill her life with new experiences, Cass attempts to seduce a boat captain named Mike (Kevin Ferguson), sparking a relationship that quickly grows complicated. As Kip reenters the picture, enlisting the aid of unorthodox therapist Janie (Amy Bossi-Nasiatka), culminating in a twisted counseling session that has unintended — and totally unexpected – consequences,” according to J. Chachula.
In addition to director J. Chachula and producer Kevin Ferguson, the joint Burning Coal/Delta Boys’ creative team for Wonder of the World includes set designer Ken Hubbel, lighting designer Megan Thrift, costume designer Lexie Nichols, properties manager Jaclyn Amanna, sound designer Todd Buker, and stage manager Kylie McCormick.
Director J Chachula says, the show’s set represents “Various locations, including a Brooklyn apartment and multiple settings within Niagara Falls, NY. Some are realistic and some [are] not.”
He says the production’s lighting is “basically realistic ” and its costumes are “realistic.”
J. Chachula notes, “The play is loaded with challenges. [One challenge is that the play is set in] Multiple locations that have to shift quickly, combined with limited backstage storage. That’s a big one.
“Another significant challenge,” says Chachula, “is directing in a thrust [stage]. It seems particularly challenging to direct a comedy with the audience on three sides, but I’m not sure. This is my first time working in this configuration, which seems strange. How did I manage that?”
Burning Coal Theatre Company, in collaboration with The Delta Boys, presents WONDER OF THE WORLD at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 4 and 5, 2 p.m. Aug. 7, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 11-13, and 2 p.m. Aug. 14 in Burning Coal Theatre at the Murphey School, 224 Polk St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27604.
TICKETS: $10-$15 (plus handling fees).
BOX OFFICE: 919/834-4001 or http://www.etix.com/ticket/online/eventSearch.jsp?event_id=9940.
The Play: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wonder_of_the_World_(play) (Wikipedia).
The Playwright: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Lindsay-Abaire (Wikipedia).
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