"Playing the Bill" is an original musical by Steve Saari. The book, music, and lyrics were written by Saari and he directed the cast. The premiere performances were held on Thursday, August 25 through Monday, August 29, 2011 at the Historic Chief Theater in downtown Bemidji, MN to rave reviews!
"Playing the Bill" is a musical about the waning years of vaudeville. It is a tale of troupers, shadow-painted survivors, and lost souls swept up in the immediate aftermath of the Crash of 1929 and the recent advent of "All Talking, All Singing, All Dancing" motion pictures.
CHARACTERS & ORIGINAL CAST MEMBERS:
Red (Chuck Deeter) is the steadfast and determined Stage Manager of the Orpheus Theater where the action of the play takes place. He does not believe in impassioned hope or sentimental wish fulfillment, yet he, of all the characters, harbors the grandest dream: re-opening the Orpheus with a cast of vaudevillians "playing the bill" in a spectacular show.
Jonathan "Johnny" Cabot Allwyn (DeeJay Arens) is a young man about town from a wealthy family who finds himself invested in the Orpheus Theater in more ways than one.
Addie (Vicki Stenerson) is the cleaning woman at the theater who has quietly lost touch with reality since losing her only son, a former actor, in World War I.
Felicity Fairchild (Vicki Wangberg) is a former silent film star ravaged by addictions and psychoses who is reduced to performing in vaudeville after the glory days of her Hollywood stardom vanished.
Happy Harry (Kevin Cease) is the manic, low-brow comic without whom no vaudeville troupe would be complete.
Percival Cowlfinger (Joel Ward) is an effete, self-aggrandizing tragedian and monologist who views himself as a classicist of the highest order.
Fen (Krista Grover) is a ballerina who was born deaf and mute. Performing to music only she experiences in her internal world, she both haunts and enlivens the theater as she dances in its shadows.
Sarah Bernhardt (Jackie Davis) is the legendary French actress who finds herself unexpectedly summoned to the Orpheus Theater. She wonders if it is a command performance or a reunion of some sort? All the more baffling as the Divine "Madame Sarah" died in 1923.
The show is interwoven with "set pieces" of vaudeville: songs, dance, chorus girls, comedy, tragedy, and an appearance by a celebrated "headliner." All the heartbreak and backstage intrigue inherent in the lives of those fated to trod the boards and those who strive to create and sustain theatrical illusion are captured in this depiction of theatrical days of yore.
ORIGINAL PRODUCTION CREW:
Director Steve Saari
Vocal Director Karen Bradley
Accompanist Steve Saari
Production Assistant/Lights Betty Arens
Make-up/Costumes Julie Quanrud
Costume Assistant Darleen Quanrud
Props Cheryl Winnett
For information on obtaining a perusal script and/or performance rights, please contact Steve Saari at 218-556-1777 or firstname.lastname@example.org.