by Michael Slade
featuring Corbin Bleu, Colleen Zenk and Randy Brooks
directed by Kevin Moore
January 22 – February 8, 2015
Charming family patriarch Sam Baker lies in a hospital bed, recovering from an apparent heart attack, but his wife, Marsha, won’t stop making the crisis all about her—much to the dismay of their son, Aaron. The young photographer wonders why his parents even stay together while he and his husband, Malcolm, deal with their own issues as newlyweds. Intimate, yet universal, Michael Slade’s latest play is a wildly funny and touching comedy about marriage—its joys, challenges and responsibilities—and what’s worth fighting for.
PNC Bank | Richard and Marni Flagel | Larry S. Glickler — Glickler Funeral Home | Mrs. Wallace E. Johnson | Heidelberg Distributing Company | Maureen Lynch and Richard Lapedes | Miami Valley Fair Housing Center and The City of Dayton Human Relations Council
Playwright Michael Slade talks Family Shots and The Human Race
It feels particularly fitting to have my new play, Family Shots, premiere at The Human Race Theatre, because it is ultimately a piece about family and love, two words that describe the relationship The Race and I have developed over the years. Though I live in New York City, and though my work is done by theatres all over the country (actually, all over the world), I think of The Race as my artistic home. It is the place where I feel unconditionally supported and nurtured as a playwright, and to which I always look forward to returning. Extra exciting this time is to be working with Kevin Moore as director. His input and insight as Producing Artistic Director on the premieres of Change and Under a Red Moon as well as the workshops/readings of The Black Crook Project (now And the Curtain Rises) and Gingerbread Children have been invaluable. The opportunity to have him hands-on as director this time around is a great gift.
Family Shots is a play about marriage. It’s funny, complicated, heart-breaking and—I hope in the end—thought- and conversation-provoking. In my business, there’s something called “an elevator pitch.” It’s how you would describe (or more to the point, sell) your play/movie/television idea to a producer in one or two sentences… in the time you unexpectedly have together in an elevator before the doors open. Well, here’s my Family Shots elevator pitch: In this era of marriage equality, when there’s so much conversation about the right to get married, what does it really mean to make the commitment to be married?
I began thinking about what was to become the play when I looked around at several couples I know, each of whom have been married a long time, each of whom seem to bicker endlessly, and about each of whom I have found myself asking on more than a few occasions, “Why have they stayed married all these years?!” As that set my writer imagination in motion, I found myself thinking about my own relationship (which was at the time in its 11th year) and realized that there were things about it that made perfect sense to us, but to someone outside might seem incomprehensible. So maybe I was judging these other people too harshly. Marriage is complicated… just as are people and families and love. And for me, as a writer or audience (and I’m guessing this is true for most of us) nothing is more interesting or intriguing than complicated people and situations. So I constructed a family with parents who’ve been married for about 40 years, an (unseen) son who’s been married for about 18 and a younger gay son who’s been married for about one. I threw in some secrets aching to be revealed, and a family medical emergency (because nothing gets emotions going better than a crisis) and the result is Family Shots. For those Dayton audience members who saw the very dark Under a Red Moon and/or Gingerbread Children, Family Shots will be very different experience.
I couldn’t be more excited about the cast we’ve assembled for this premiere. It’s the kind of company one usually only dreams about, and one which brings to the play and to Dayton some amazing, high-profile actors. These are people whose work I so admire, and who audiences all over the country would recognize from their performances on Broadway, in movies and on television. And some of them are actors who don’t often choose to go to small regional theatres. But in each case they fell in love with the play and decided they wanted to be a part of this production. I feel so blessed to have them on board, and so honored by their love for and belief in Family Shots.
As I said, The Human Race Theatre has become my artistic home, and by extension, Dayton has become a home-away-from-home. The friendships I’ve developed (and continue to develop) with Kevin and the extraordinary staff of the theatre, with many of the resident artists and board members, as well as with Dayton residents whom I’ve had the pleasure to meet, all enrich my entire life. It’s great to come home and to bring Family Shots to Dayton.
Michael Slade (Playwright) is a NYC-based writer. He is thrilled to have an ongoing relationship with The Human Race Theatre which began in 2008 with a summer workshop of his musical, The Black Crook Project (music by Joseph Thalken, lyrics by Mark Campbell), and which ultimately premiered as And the Curtain Rises at Signature Theatre (Arlington, VA) under the direction of Tony Award-nominated director Kristin Hanggi, with sets by 2014 Tony Award winner Beowolf Boritt. The Race subsequently commissioned the play Change, which was presented through its Theatre in Context program. Under a Red Moon (directed by Margarett Perry) had its world premiere at The Race in the fall of 2012 in a co-production with The Carnegie Center in Covington, KY. A reading at Roundabout Theatre in NYC starred Billy Crudup and Kate Burton. Mr. Slade is proud that The Race chose Gingerbread Children to inaugurate the Marsha Hanna New Play Workshops Program in the spring of 2013. Among his other plays, And a Child Shall Lead (presented by The Zoot Theatre Company in 2013) is regularly produced by theatres around the world. It was called “Awe-inspiring theatre” by the Chicago Sun-Times, and “One of the most deeply moving dramas of the season” by Centerstage Chicago. His musical, Bye, Bye Big Guy (music by David Evans, lyrics by Faye Greenberg) was called “a rowdy, rascally, raunchy, rip-roaring romp” by The Edge when it premiered at the Lucille Lortel Theatre as part of the NYC International Fringe Festival. Mr. Slade has written extensively for young people. Theatreworks/USA commissioned and produced ten musicals including Superfudge (starring Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Barrett Foa) and Where’s Waldo? (starring Daphne Rubin-Vega). Pokemon Live! (starring Andrew Rannells) premiered at Radio City Music Hall before touring the U.S., Europe, South America and Dubai. His children’s novel, The Horses of Central Park, was awarded the ISAR Award for Children’s Literature. Mr. Slade was nominated for an EmmyAward for One Life to Live and a Writer’s Guild Award for Another World. He has also written for Passions and Days of Our Lives. Current projects include a recently optioned screenplay, The Critic, as well as several new plays (one being co-written with 2014 Tony winner Robert L. Freedman), and a television series he is developing with four-time Emmy Award winner Judy Tate. www.michaelsladewriter.com
Kevin Moore (Director) is the Producing Artistic Director, Founding Executive Director and Resident Artist of The Human Race Theatre Company. He has directed numerous Human Race productions including premieres of Wild Blue, Green Gables, Harold and Maude, Ordinary Days, Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical, Play It by Heart, and now Family Shots. Other favorites include Children of Eden, Convenience, Shenandoah, Bat Boy, Fiddler on the Roof, and most recently Mame. Through Kevin’s leadership, The Human Race has become a nationally recognized center for the development of new musicals and plays. Kevin has been a panelist for the NEA and Ohio Arts Council, and has served on the Board of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre where he co-chaired their Festival of New Musicals. In 2003, Kevin was inducted into the Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame and in April 2010, he and Marsha Hanna received the Governor’s Award for Arts Administration. Kevin is proud of The Human Race’s six-year association with the very talented playwright (and friend) Michael Slade.
Scott J. Kimmins (Scenic Designer) This is Scott’s 18th season as the Technical Director for The Human Race Theatre Company where he has built over 100 productions for The Loft stage as well as the Victoria Theatre. His 16 designs for the Loft include Torch Song Trilogy, Under a Red Moon, Band Geeks!, Ordinary Days, Brother Wolf, The Wonder Bread Years, Children of Eden, Forever Plaid and Copenhagen, which received a DayTony Award for Excellence in Set Design. Scott also designed The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, Bent and A Man Haunted at Wright State University where he attended school for 5 years in the Design/Production Program. Other design credits include Tuesdays with Morrie at the Victoria Theatre, The Infernal Machine for Sinclair College, Yellowman for Dream Keepers and Bunk Bed Brothers for Sweetwood Productions, also on the Victoria Theatre stage in 2005.
Janet G. Powell (Costume Designer) is excited to be costuming this new play. She just finished costuming Soldier’s Christmas, a new work by Phil Paradis. Costuming credits for The Human Race Theatre Company include two In-School Tours: A Dickens of a Time and Belch, Bottom and the Boys, and main stage productions of Other Desert Cities, Torch Song Trilogy, Avenue Q, Band Geeks!, 8 Track, Permanent Collection and The 39 Steps. She costumed Boeing, Boeing and Parade, both joint productions of CCM and The Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center. She is a retired Norwood City Schools artistic director/teacher where she directed, designed, and costumed over 150 shows. She is thankful to her husband and children for putting up with many years of theatrical insanity.
John Rensel (Lighting Designer) is the long-term Resident Lighting Designer for The Human Race Theatre Company, Muse Machine, the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra Pops series and Dayton Opera Association. He also serves as the long-time Technical Director for the Fraze Pavilion and has provided technical advance production coordination, lighting designs, automation programming and performance operation services for many artists and productions that have visited that venue. John also has a diverse dance lighting background, having provided lighting designs and technical production services for many years to The Dayton Ballet and Dayton Contemporary Dance Co. John’s national credits included a lighting design package for a National Touring Production of the Elton John/Tim Rice collaboration, Aida. Most recent local credits include all the designs for the 2013-14 Human Race Theatre Company’s season at The Loft Theatre; Muse Machine’s Summer Concert In Your Eyes, at the Victoria Theatre and the Dayton Opera Association’s 2013-14 season at the Schuster Center.
Nathan D. Dean (Sound Designer)attended Sinclair Community College’s Department of Theatre. He has worked for several theatres including Indiana Repertory Theatre, SEED Theatre Project, Encore Theatre, Free Shakespeare Vandalia Youth Theater and, of course, The Human Race Theatre Company. Design credits include Steel Magnolias, Footfalls, a series of Beckett plays for which he received a DayTony Award, The Merchant of Venice, Syringa Tree, [title of show], Next Thing You Know, Urinetown, Cinderella and Winnie the Pooh as well as Becky’s New Car; Under a Red Moon; Caroline, or Change; Lend Me a Tenor; Man of La Mancha; The Vertical Hour; Rounding Third; The Drowsy Chaperone; 8 Track: The Sounds of the 70’s; The 39 Steps; Ordinary Days; right next to me; Other Desert Cities and Mame for The Human Race where he also serves as House Sound Engineer.
Sean Michael Flowers (Incidental Music Composer) Sean’s composition credits include the musicals Guarding Gold Street with Human Race Resident Artist Marya Spring Cordes, featured this summer in The Puzzle, New Works Festival in NYC and at The Race (MTW 2013), The Trimble Wars (NAMT 2009 development grant recipient), Prometheus Dreams and Kaine with Patrick Vaughn (MTW 2009 and 2001; The Puzzle, 2011), scores for the plays The Retreat from Moscow (HRTC) and Spring Awakening (College of the Holy Cross), Prism (New Works Dance Project, Las Vegas), and the long running NY cabaret entitled (2002 MAC award). He is published with Walton Music, a member of ASCAP and a proud Resident Artist here at The Race. During the day, Sean teaches voice in the Musical Theatre Program at WSU.
Kay Carver (Production Stage Manager) graduated from Wright State University’s Department of Theatre, Dance and Motion Pictures with a degree in Design/Technology and Stage Management. Her professional credits include Production Stage Manager for Mame, Miracle on South Division Street, HRTC’s 2013-2014 Loft season, the 2013 Festival of New Musicals, HRTC’s 2012-2013 Loft season and MTW Dani Girl, Assistant Stage Manager for The Drowsy Chaperone and Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical and Production Assistant for Twelfth Night, The 39 Steps and Ordinary Days, all with The Human Race Theatre Company. She also served as the Production Stage Manager for the Wright State University/Dayton Philharmonic collaborative production of Bernstein’s Mass at the Schuster Center.
Corbin Bleu (Aaron Baker) is best known for his starring role in the Emmy Award-winning High School Musical and its sequel, High School Musical 2 alongside Zac Efron. Following the worldwide success of High School Musical, Bleu reprised his role as ‘Chad’ in High School Musical 3: Senior Year. Recently Bleu partnered with Karina Smirnoff on Dancing with the Stars, placing a close second. Bleu also just wrapped a campaign on the crowdsourcing site Indiegogo.com for his anti-bullying passion project, The Day I Died. This film reveals the honest and raw truth behind high school bullying, and Bleu hopes to begin filming soon. Returning to his love of the theatre, Bleu starred on Broadway as “Jesus” in the revival of the musical Godspell. This marked his second leading role on Broadway following his rave-reviewed performance in the musical In The Heights. Bleu starred in the Off-Broadway production of Tiny Tim is Dead as well as Brothers of the Knight with Debbie Allen. On the West Coast, Bleu performed as Seaweed in Hairspray at the Hollywood Bowl starring opposite Harvey Fierstein, Marisa Jaret Winokur, John Stamos and Susan Anton. Bleu’s first leading film role was in Bart Freundlich’s Catch That Kid, opposite Kristen Stewart. Other film credits include Soldier opposite Kurt Russell, Galaxy Quest opposite Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver, Mystery Men opposite Ben Stiller and Hank Azaria, Family Tree, and Free Style, which Bleu also produced. Bleu was recently seen in Nurse 3-D. He will also soon star opposite Kat Dennings in Day One. He recently appeared in Rotimi Rainwater’s Sugar. Bleu’s television credits include Disney Channel’s Jump In!, the Discovery Kids/NBC series Flight 29 Down, Hannah Montana, ER, The Amanda Show, Cover Me and Malcolm & Eddie. Bleu was born in Brooklyn, New York and currently resides in Los Angeles and New York City. In addition to being an actor, musician, and stage performer, he is the national spokesperson for the Starlight Children’s Foundation and is also involved with St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and the Make-a-Wish Foundation. www.corbinbleu.com
Colleen Zenk (Marsha Baker) is a three-time Lead Actress Emmy Nominee best known for her portrayal of fashionista-diva-evil-bitch-mother-from-hell “Barbara Ryan” on CBS’s As the World Turns, a role she continuously (and deliciously) played from 1978-2010. A Barrington, Illinois native with a background in musical theatre, she made her television debut at 5 dancing (and winning) the “Little Stars” competition show on NBC. Through high school and college she trained with internationally renowned Gus Giordano and performed with his company, Giordano Dance Chicago. In 1975, after majoring in theatre at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., Ms. Zenk moved to New York City where she still resides. Film: Libby (title role, L.A. Film Fest, Best Comedy Nominee), Annie (original, dir. John Huston), Women on the Ledge, You’d Better Watch Out. Broadway: Bring Back Birdie (opposite Chita Rivera and Donald O’Connor). Off-Broadway: Winter Rhythms, Afternoon at Bergdorf’s, Odyssey-The Epic Musical, Marrying George Clooney. Regional: Looped (as “Tallulah Bankhead”); Follies; Hello, Dolly!; Auntie Mame; Love Letters (20+ productions); Can-Can; Where’s Charley?; They’re Playing My Song and many more. Web: Thurston (Indie Series Awards, Lead Actress Nominee), Milgram and the Fasterwalkers, Tainted Dreams (Emmy Nomination, Best Ensemble). Solo Cabaret Show: Still Sassy. Upcoming films: Scout (with Ellen Burstyn), Line to the Wall. Nashville singing debut with Johnny Rodgers. Ballet corp’ with Metropolitan Opera at Kennedy Center. Performed throughout Europe for thousands of our troops. A two-time oral cancer survivor celebrating her six-year milestone, she is the national spokesperson for the Oral Cancer Foundation and has been honored with numerous humanitarian awards for her activism. Also, Board of Directors at CAP21 Theatre, Board of Governors National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, one of many producers of the Broadway revival of Godspell (starring Corbin Bleu). And_…_she is mother to a blended family of 4 girls, 2 boys, ages 33-21. Member of AEA since ‘72.
Randy Brooks (Sam Baker) was born in New York City. He is an actor, writer and director known for the films Reservoir Dogs (1992), 8 Million Ways to Die (1986), and the television soap operas Generations (1990-91), The Young and the Restless (1992-94) and Another World (1994-95). His career began on the stage with a featured role in Hair (LA cast), and he studied in Los Angeles at the Lee Strasberg Institute, under Lee Strasberg. Randy also studied under Glen Cannon at the University of Hawaii. Television appearances include: The West Wing (recurring); Judging Amy; Nash Bridges; Murder, She Wrote; Tour of Duty; Hill Street Blues and Renegades. Film roles include: Colors (1988), Forbidden Love (1982), House of Grace (2006) and Don’t Touch If You Ain’t Prayed (2005). Randy has appeared in the following stage productions: Jesus Christ Superstar, Leonard Bernstein’s Mass and By George. Randy has 6 wonderful children, and 1 grandson. He loves to write and is currently working on a variety of projects. Other interests include: music, reading, football and deep sea fishing. He is an accomplished gourmet cook as well! He currently resides on the Oregon coast. GO SEAHAWKS!
Adam Halpin (Malcolm Harrison) Broadway: Glory Days (Skip). Off-Broadway: Dogfight (Stevens). Broadway Tour: Rent (Gordon) starring Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal. Other New York: readings/workshops include Irma La Douce, Nobody Loves You, Sunset Boulevard, Fiction In Photographs, Awesomer & Awesomer; three shows with the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Recent Regional credits include: The Last 5 Years (Jamie) Long Wharf Theatre - where he received a Connecticut Critics Circle Nomination; Triangle (Brian) Lyric Theatre of OK; Little Miss Scrooge (Bob Crachit) Rubicon Theatre Co.; Bell, Book and Candle (Shep) Judson Theatre Co.; as well as North Shore Music Theatre, Pittsburgh CLO, The MUNY, and Signature Theatre. Film: Grind. He can be heard on the Original Cast Recordings of Glory Days, Dogfight, and A Little Princess, all on Ghostlight Records.
Arash Mokhtar (Dr. Geoffrey Patel) is thrilled to start 2015 in Ohio working with Michael Slade and The Human Race Theatre Company! Selected credits: THEATER (NYC): Berenger, Rhinoceros; Buckingham, Richard III; Coriolanus, Coriolanus; Truffaldino, The Servant of Two Masters; Lord Goring, An Ideal Husband; Joe Cooper, Killer Joe; Daniel Woolf, Closer; Eddie, Hurlyburly; TV: Veep (HBO), Forever (ABC), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix), Believe (NBC), Zero Hour (ABC), Elementary (CBS), Person of Interest (CBS), Political Animals (USA), NYC 2-2 (CBS). Lead and supporting roles in several independent films. All of my love and gratitude to my ever-beatific family back in Brooklyn! www.arashmokhtar.com
Annie Pesch (Joyce Anderson) is thrilled to be performing in the premiere of Family Shots after spending the past ten years focusing on new works. This is her fourth appearance on The Loft stage, where she most recently performed in Mame. NY/regional credits include Ensemble Studio Theatre, Urban Stages, Wings Theatre, American Blues Theater, Chicago Dramatists, Griffin Theatre (tour), and the Midwest premiere of The Kite Runner at Actors Theatre of Louisville and Cleveland Play House. Thanks to her family for their support and Kevin for this wonderful opportunity. www.anniepesch.com