Only in Stage II, Venice’s contemporary theatre …
Kelly Wynn Woodland to direct seldom-seen Arthur Kopit comedy, Road to Nirvana
(Venice, FL) Venice Theatre’s next Stage II production will be the caustic comedy Road to Nirvana, Arthur Kopit’s thinly disguised spoof of David Mamet’s casting of Madonna in Speed the Plow on Broadway. The esteemed playwright is also known for Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma’s Hung You in the Closet and I’m Feelin’ So Sad; Tony nominees Indians and Wings; the book for the Tony Award winning musical Nine, the book for the musical Phantom, and numerous other works. Venice Theatre’s production of Kopit’s recently updated Road to Nirvana will open on the theatre’s Pinkerton Stage Thursday, March 12 and run through Sunday, March 29, 2015. The playwright will be visiting from New York and engaging in talk-backs following the performances on Tuesday, March 17 through Friday, March 20. Shows are at 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $28 for adults, $13-$15 for students (only those in high school and college) and are on sale now at the theatre’s box office, online at www.venicestage.com or by phone at 941-488-1115. The show is not recommended for minors due to offensive language and partial nudity.
Road to Nirvana, which opened on Broadway in 1991, tells the darkly comic tale of two down-on-their-luck movie moguls who are given the chance (at great cost) to produce a potential blockbuster: an autobiographical film starring Nirvana, the hottest female rock star on the charts. In its review of the play, the New York Times said, “Mr. Kopit arouses audiences with his acerbity, hi pitch black humor and his sheer virulence.” The Louisville Courier Journal said Road to Nirvana offers up “A consistently entertaining evening.” And the Sun-Sentinel described a Miami production as “Shocking and electrifying.”
No stranger to this “shocking” material, Venice Theatre produced Road to Nirvana in 2002 as part of a late-night “On the Edge” series sponsored by Sarasota’s arts council. Years later, when the theatre hosted a discussion with Kopit, the playwright was surprised to learn this, saying with a laugh, “Most theatres close down after trying to produce that show.” Venice Theatre’s Executive/Artistic Director Murray Chase does warn that, “theatre-goers will need to leave their sensibilities at the door, but plays like Road to Nirvana are exactly what Stage II was made for. Not to mention this is one of the funniest plays I’ve ever seen. I’m excited that we’re doing it again.”
Kelly Wynn Woodland, who is known for directing many of Venice Theatre’s edgier plays and musicals including Reefer Madness, Spring Awakening, The Great American Trailer Park Musicals, A Behanding in Spokane and Random Acts Cabaret, is also at the helm of Road to Nirvana. In 2002 she performed the title role. In this incarnation, she directs Steve O’Dea and Jeremy Guerrero as the producers, Al and Jerry. Alison Prouty plays Lou, Al’s girlfriend and business partner. Vera Samuels stars as Nirvana.
Woodland says that prior to Venice Theatre presenting Road to Nirvana in 2002; the Random Acts theatre troupe performed the show in a local bar. “This is the show that started Random Acts,” she explains. “The police tried to shut us down that night. Only Venice Theatre would produce this show as part of its primetime offerings.”
Tickets for Road to Nirvana and all Venice Theatre shows through June 2015 are available at the box office at 941-488-1115 or online at www.venicestage.com. Subscriptions for 2015-2016 are also on sale. Venice Theatre is located at 140 W. Tampa Ave. on the island in Venice. Box office hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday; and one hour before all performances.
Road to Nirvana
By Arthur Kopit
Director – Kelly Wynn Woodland
Stage Manager – Allyson Robertson
Technical Director –John Andzulis
Scenic Designer – Brian Freeman
Lighting Designer – Ryan Mueller
Costume Designer – Nicholas Hartman
Sound Designer – Dorian Boyd
Al – Jeremy Guerrero
Jerry – Steve O’Dea
Lou – Alison Prouty
Nirvana – Vera Samuels
Ramon – (played by several actors in rotation) Allan Kollar, Jeremy Stone, Caitlin Ellis, Jason Ellis, Amanda Farrell, Matt McClure and Patrick Tancey.