On one autumn evening in the rehearsal area for Hope Theater, hectic looks like this for a rehearsal of the world premiere of Larry, the Big-Time Broadway Producer: The director and his assistants set up furniture and props; actors arrive early, chattering and reviewing dialogue; and there’s a baby.
Wait — a baby at a play rehearsal? More on that later. Back to the rehearsal.
Gathering his actors together before they begin working through the play’s first act, director Matt Moore goes over some basics for the evening: “We want to get through act one, off-book, and attempt to do it without stopping.” The term off-book means when actors conduct their rehearsal without holding their scripts, which can be scary for actors of any level of experience. Moore receives nods and smiles, and the company seems ready for the challenge.
Moore, with many credits on his director’s résumé, is not only leading this new play; this is the first of a new venture: Triune Entertainment LLC. Triune includes an improv troupe that has been together for more than 20 years, a role-playing game about to be marketed widely, and the new theater company — hence the three parts.
As the managing partner in Triune, Moore wants to create a new model for theatrical productions. “It is an opportunity for artists to work together toward a larger goal,” Moore explained. “It’s like a collective, where everyone has a stake in it. A non-Equity, professional theater.”
Finding a title for Triune’s first production was serendipitous. Moore was working with someone who knew critic and writer Peter Filichia and thought they might hit it off.
Filichia has written numerous books about Broadway musicals and served as a theater critic for many years. His columns and reviews appeared in newspapers, Playbill, TheatreMania, (the now defunct) TheaterWeek magazine, and DC Theater Arts. Filichia has written numerous full-length and one-act plays, as well. God Shows Up, Our Dead Classmate, and The Whole World are among titles produced from off-Broadway to the West Coast in recent years.
Moore described his first, eventful conversation with Filichia: “We talked over the phone, at length, and Peter asked me a ton of questions about my experience and outlook. Then he offered me the chance to direct Larry.”
Larry the Big-Time Broadway Producer is a comedy in which a young English teacher from Boston dreams of making it as a — spoiler alert — Broadway producer. Set in the mid-1960s in the era of Hello, Dolly! and Funny Girl, Larry has roots in Filichia’s own life.
As the playwright stated in a promotional video, “While I’m not named Larry, and I was never a big-time Broadway producer, I did invest in Broadway shows when I was young. I’ve taken some of those experiences and certainly made them far more dramatic than — thank God! — I ever endured.”
During the recent rehearsal of the play’s first act, the characters and premise are introduced. Larry — played by Jack Tessier — is supported by his long-suffering mother, played by Carole Tessier, and his baseball-loving father, Jacob, played by Scott Pierce. Larry works at a Boston hotel with Hannah — played by Cate Murray — and the sassy hotel housekeeper, Agnes, is played by Dawn Gaynor. Beyond the hotel job, Larry has dreams of success on the Great White Way. He meets and has dealings with Adriana — played by Arianna Parenti — and a mysterious and intimidating gentleman known as Mr. Smith, played by Michael Pryor. Smith is one reason Larry gets into hot water during his pursuit to become a Broadway player.
Rounding out the cast for Larry, the Big-Time Broadway Producer are Anthony Smitha, as the announcer and various voices, and Hilary Pierce, who will play the roles of Mildred and Agnes at different times during the two-week run.
A highlight of the two-act comedy is an actor’s tour de force for Jack Tessier: a nine-page monologue for Larry in which the character barely stops talking while changing locations multiple times while Mr. Smith comes along for the ride. The subject of the super-monologue is the power and life of a Broadway show, a subject Filichia knows only too well.
Actor Scott Pierce, who plays Larry’s father, summed up the play succinctly: “Hilarious comes to mind. Also heart-warming and ultimately inspiring,” said Pierce. “It’s about pursuing a dream in the face of adversity. Just when you think it’s to the point of no return, it all comes out okay.”
Moore revels in the snappy dialogue and getting his actors to pick up the pace. But the warmer moments are also impactful for the director: “The second act really takes a turn in the story, and there is a beautiful moment in the father and son relationship between Jacob and Larry.”
Another actor excited to be part of this premiere is Arianna Parenti, who plays Adriana. Parenti equates the play to a coming-of-age story. “Even if you’re a grown person, you can rise to the challenge,” she said.
“A lot of people will be able to relate to Larry’s drive, once you know your singular focus. At the end of the day, Larry is a good guy and the audience is going to root for him.”
As the rehearsal continues, the smallest member of the company gets taken out of the room. Remember the baby? The little one is the director’s granddaughter. Due to last-minute issues with a babysitter, the tyke had to come along to rehearsal. But with multiple Tessiers, Pierces, and Moores on hand, this production is something of a family affair.
The babysitter will be all set come opening night.
Larry, the Big-Time Broadway Producer plays October 20 through 29, 2023 (7 p.m., Friday and Saturday; 2:30 p.m., Sunday) presented by Triune Entertainment LLC performing at Hope Theater, 4175 Bludau Drive, Warrenton, VA. Tickets are $22 ($18 for students) and can be purchased at the door or online.
The cast and creative credits are here.
Larry, the Big-Time Broadway Producer
A world premiere play by Peter Filichia
Director: Matt Moore; Producer: Mary Beth Balint; Stage Manager: Dave Morgan; Assistant Director: Gabrielle Tessier; Technical Director: Dan Martin; Set Designer: Marty Kelly; Costume Designer: Heidi Santschi; Production Assistants: Ryan Balint, Sam Wong
Cast: Dawn Gaynor, Cate Murray, Arianna Parenti, Hilary Pierce, Scot Pierce, Michael Pryor, Anthony Smitha, Carole Tessier, and Jack Tessier
New comedy ‘Larry, the Big-Time Broadway Producer’ to open in Warrenton (news story, August 29, 2023)