April 17, 2008

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‘Balance’ in Bedford
Mass. playwright premieres new drama
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

Seth Leary was discussing Russian politics with a friend when the legend of Rasputin came up. The visionary was linked to the fall of the Romanov dynasty almost a century ago. “It seemed like he was using the czarina’s desperation,” Leary said. That became a hook for a script.

The 28-year-old from Worcester, Mass., is also directing his play, The Balance, which premieres, presented by the community company Bedford Off Broadway, on Friday, April 25.

The Balance concerns a prime minister and his wife in an unnamed country. Their ill child is going to die and they’ve tried every possible option to save the child. “In desperation, they turn to faith healer Reverend Mills,” Leary said. Mills, played by Al Sprague of Amherst, gains political influence, and the plot gets complicated from there.

The title comes from the undercurrent of characters’ trying to balance emotions, stress and desires throughout the story, Leary said.

“It was a wedding present to my sister and I get to give it to her three and a half years late ... I think my family thought I was cheaping out,” Leary said.

“I’ve seen the script in many different stages. This is by far the best version. He really put everything he has into it,” said John Vannase, 28, of Worcester. Vannase plays Dr. Curtis Mellon, the doctor of the prime minister’s son.

Leary also acts, but usually only in performances of Shakespeare’s work. “It’s just the most rewarding for an actor, I think,” he said. Asked if so much time with the Bard influences his own plays, Leary said, “I’ve memorized 12 [Shakespeare] scripts, so that obviously informs my style ... if I gotta rip somebody off, I feel he’s the guy to rip off.” He feels The Balance, which involves power plays and the equivalent of court intrigue, might be the kind of project Shakespeare would have been attracted to.

Leary has written about six scripts, including Bob for God, a political satire about an election on Mount Olympus, which was produced at Gateway Players Theatre in Southbridge, Mass. His next project is Betty’s, a musical about strippers and drugs. Brian Sampson, who acts in The Balance, is writing the music.

Leary is also a co-founder of guerilla comedy group The Prose Brothers.

Also in the cast of The Balance are Regina Dixon of Bedford, Rick Nantel of New Ipswich, Chris Ebacher of Dudley, Mass., and Mike McKinnon of Goffstown.

BOB board member Tom Lianza explained that although Bedford Off Broadway is presenting The Balance, they aren’t producing it. “We maintain that theater. We try to give a voice to anyone who needs a space to have that voice,” Lianza said. BOB provides some support, but no artistic oversight for other nonprofits to use the Bedford Town Hall stage or, as in the case of Leary, to show new work.


The where and when
What: The Balance, written and directed by Seth Leary, presented by Bedford Off Broadway
Where: Bedford Town Hall, 70 Bedford Center Road, Bedford
When: Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., April 25-May 3
Tickets: $15
More info: Call (774) 239-6269, e-mail Seth@Molehillproductions.net or see www.bedfordoffbroadway.com.

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