November 30, 2006

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Lighthearted farce for the holidays
NH playwright and Yellow Taxi offer the Lumpkin Sisters for your holiday diversion
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

Marisa Smith’s theater career has run the gamut from New York actress to producer to drama publisher and now Hanover playwright. Her latest project takes her to the southern end of the state, where Yellow Taxi Productions commissioned her to turn her one-act holiday/wedding farce into a full-length show.

The Lumpkin Sisters’ Christmas Caper is out of the ordinary for Yellow Taxi. For one thing, the cast is big. Yellow Taxi Christmas shows are fundraisers for the professional company. Since the actors donate their time, “that allows us to choose a play that has 11 characters,” founding director Suzanne Delle said. Choosing New Hampshire playwrights is part of the Yellow Taxi mission, but when they commission work (this is their third), they insist the playwright be available to work with actors and directors on the script. That collaborative process was one reason actors volunteered time, Delle said.

“I’m amazed anybody can write a play without having acted in one,” Smith said. “It enables you to really inhabit the characters as you’re writing.”

Smith said at the first read-through she was glad to see director Tajoura Davis got the comedy.

“People describe my humor as A.R. Gurney on acid,” Smith said. Sometimes Smith presses hard to keep her lines. On the other hand, she appreciates the list of small changes she recently received from the cast. They’ve asked to change “Price Chopper” to “Market Basket” to localize it, for example.

Yellow Taxi focuses on contemporary and new plays, many of which aren’t comedy, Delle said. Santaland Diaries, the one-man show by humorist David Sedaris they presented last year, was satirical. This is Yellow Taxi’s first farce. It has the usual elements—people getting drunk, falling in love with the wrong people, sexual innuendo (still suitable for family audiences), and lots of door-slamming. It’s set in a hotel bar at a wedding reception on Christmas Eve, with two days of stress in one, where various family members try to sort out a groom with cold feet. “Your family are people who love you the most and also the people that drive you crazy,” Delle said.

Smith was commissioned last year to write the one-act for the winter Hanover arts festival in December. Constraints can help you refine material, Smith said. There was no space in the Hanover Inn for a set but there were plenty of doors to slam and a banquet room for weddings adjoined. Yellow Taxi will use the Hunt Building’s main room as the hotel bar.

Smith also wrote Kong’s Reunion for the Hanover Inn, and is finishing Queenie’s Christmas, a modern fairy tale to be performed there during the Hanover Arts Festival this December.

Smith and Kraus (Kraus being the husband) has published theater books for 16 years and is based in New Hampshire. Smith spent five years acting off-Broadway, regionally and in film before moving into producing. She wrote her first play, Book Group, in 2003; it was produced by semi-professional Signal & Noise Production in northern New Hampshire. Her play Devine Comedy will be produced for the second time in March at Central Massachusetts Repertory Theater.

Erica Newhall, Eric Skoglund, Leah Belanger, Dana Angelis, Neal Blaiklock, Sally Nutt, Alan Wilbar, Doug Chilson, Andrew Hannah and Jessica Scalese appear in Lumpkin Sisters.


11/23/2006 Curtain Calls

11/16/2006 Good theater
11/9/2006 Preview roundup
11/2/2006 Access to the ancients
10/26/2006 Aida on a Nashua stage
10/19/2006 Children of a Lesser God brilliantly played
10/12/2006 A true love triangle
10/05/2006 Curtain Calls
09/28/2006 Bringing people back to life
09/21/2006 Getting judged
09/14/2006 Long strange journey
09/07/2006 Curtain Calls
08/31/2006 Curtain Calls
08/24/2006 Putting kids in charge
08/17/2006 Curtain Calls
08/10/2006 All theater, all summer
08/03/2006 A Jesus musical, reworked
07/27/2006 A match made in Maine
07/20/2006 Variations on a theme
07/13/2006 I Hate Hamlet
07/06/2006 Serious theater
06/29/2006 L.A. in Peterborough
06/22/2006 Da Vinci to Rube Goldberg
06/15/2006 Peter Bridges remembered
06/08/2006 From Hairspray to monkeys
06/01/2006 Special Theatrics
05/25/2006 Live Brit-com
05/18/2006 Evil stepsisters earn the yuks
05/11/2006 A message to mom
05/04/2006 Meet the cast
04/27/2006 'I hope i get it'
04/20/2006 Find yourself in Yonkers
04/13/2006 Nashua rocks The Wiz
04/06/2006 Nashua rocks The Wiz
03/30/2006 Cabaret is Mnchester bound
03/23/2006 A 42nd Street detour
03/16/2006 Actor-director wants your ideas
02/23/2006 Yellow Taxi's Theater Festival opens March 1
02/16/2006 Herding CATS
02/09/2006 An actors' studio
02/02/2006 A thing about love
01/26/2006 Spring theater season warming up
01/19/2006 Gearing up for the big night
01/12/2006 This Phantom is not a menace
01/05/2006 Jim Kelly, sci-fi writer and alternate historian
10th anniversary at Capitol Center
10 Ways To Survive The Audition
A Chorus Line
A Figaro Worth Cheering
A 'Living Newspaper' on stage
A tale of two wives
A Tribute To Music
Actorsingers Deliver On Superstar
Beauty and the Beast
Bedford Off-Broadway Gets Spooky
Being The Beatles, 1964 The Tribute
Bringing NYC to Wilton
Creating the venue from antiques
Crimes Of The Heart
Curtain to rise on Dana Center
Dana Center Takes Center Stage
Ensemble elevates Palace’s Godspell
From stage to the silver screen
Great play, too bad it’s over
Greater Tuna
Humble Boy
It’s cabaret, hear it sing, joke, tease
It's Child's Play
Jesus Christ Superstar
Kids Tackle Edgar Allan Poe
Local boy hits the big time, doesn’t lose his head
Lowell theater opens with a winner of a satire
Madco welcomes Boston actor-director
Meet John Sefel, Director
Meet Suzanne Delle, Yellow Taxi’s driver
Music Man to run three weekends
New Thalian Players
Palace announces 2005-06 season
Peterborough Players’ Solidarity is solid gold
Plaid
Plaid (II)
Playing with man’s best friend
Proud of the Peacock
Racy, crazy blast at the Palace
Reviving His Passion
Robert Dionne, The man behind the Majestic
Rosemary Dann
Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know
Short-Attention Span Theater
Side Show
Sideshow slips sideways
Spending The Summer On Stage
Stages of learning
Steel Magnolias
Suessical: The Musical
Theater Of The Imagination
Theater Kids Without A School
Theater in the park draws big
The Drawer Boy
The Festival
The Five best shows of 2005
The Prisoner Of Second Avenue
The Russian/American Kids Circus
The Senator Wore Pantyhose
The Tony Awards, they're grrrrreat
The Warmth Of The Cold
Three nights, three shows at the Palace
Tosca

Under the Caribbean with the little mermaid

Wake up to ‘night Mother