Voices from the Fringe: Writer/Director Thomas Wortham

Making his Fringe debut this year is Thomas Wortham, the writer, producer and director of An American Video Store, set in one of the titular establishments that barely exist anymore.

In the midst of beginning a new job and preparing his show for the Fringe, Mr. Wortham still found the time to talk to Better Lemons.

Better Lemons: What was the inspiration behind this piece? Personal
experience?
Thomas Wortham: I don't know how it works now, but in the ‘90s kids would just hang out at various retail locations, whether it be the mall, an arcade or — in my case — a video store. I got hooked at a young age by my mom's VHS collection and it just never stopped. There was a Blockbuster up the street from my house that I practically grew up in. I also worked at a Hollywood Video Store in college, which was an awesome and terrible experience all at the same time. I always wanted to write some form of this story and the mistake I always made was trying to make the plot about the actual downfall of the video store business. Something in the vein of Empire Records, where it was all about saving the store.

I finally felt I had unlocked the idea when I realized the story had to be about the characters and allow the business aspects to simply act as a foundation for what was happening.

BL: Any parallels with Clerks - which, of course, would be a perfect connection?
TW: It is so funny you ask this. OF COURSE Clerks and Kevin Smith are a massive influence on myself and the play. In fact, just two nights ago I attended his Fatman Beyond podcast taping in Hollywood. They do a Q&A at the end and I was able to get up and ask a question wearing a shirt that had my play's logo on it.

Kevin is so generous with folks promoting their stuff, and with his connection to video stores, he immediately asked me about my shirt and insisted I plug all aspects of my play before and after me asking my question. It was incredible. He also had some nice things to say about the Fringe, which was cool.

But in terms of the mechanics of the play, it was crucial that the script had scenes that allowed the characters to wax intellectual about movies. Very similar to how Dante and Randal talk about Star Wars in Clerks, or how Brodie and T.S. talk about Superman in Mallrats. And you know just how shitty jobs  really have an impact on how our lives play out, when we are young can, whether we recognize it or not in the moment.

BL: What does (or did) the video store symbolize in American culture?
TW: I think that more than anything the video store era just represented a communal experience that sadly is the biggest thing missing when you select something through a streaming service. I'm sure the algorithms that Netflix uses are very sophisticated, but the way an organic conversation with customers and clerks could lead you down such interesting and unexpected paths was something I think is impossible to replicate.

BL: Briefly, what’s the show about? How will it resonate with audiences?
TW: Taking place over three pivotal moments in the history of the American video store, our intimate story of clerks and customers examines the rise and fall of a cultural phenomenon that defined a generation. The show is an hour long - with the goal being a funny, emotional and nostalgic trip down memory lane for anyone who has ever enjoyed the experience of going to a video store to pick out a movie.

BL: Can you tell us a bit about the cast?
TW: My girlfriend Aidan Rees is our lead and is also a producer. She is an incredibly talented actoress who is a regular at Second City. I'm always blown away by her ability to be such a versatile performer. Going from improv to sketch to everything scripted can be challenging for anyone to execute. We found our second lead, Jeff Coppage, through a self-tape. He has the uncanny ability to add flavor to dialogue that wasn't intended as a joke, and all of a sudden I'm laughing my ass off. So damn unique and funny.

Kristin Morris is a close friend of mine and an extremely accomplished actor. I saw her in West Side Story at Musical Theatre West in Long Beach and I always knew I would love to write a part that would be brought to life by her amazing talents. Antoine Dillard, Misao McGregor and Angelique Maurnaé were all actors that Aidan had worked with before. While I was not familiar with their work, they have all knocked it out of the park and made their characters jump off the page in a way I never could have imagined.

BL: Is this your first Fringe experience? Or have you attended in previous years, either as an audience member or talent?
TW: First time Fringer in every capacity. I am so excited and thankful to be exposed to this brand new weird world.

BL: What other shows intrigue you at #hff19?
TW: Lots of shows that are also at Stephanie Feury look great. I have had the chance to meet the creators of George. and Treason so I look forward to seeing those. The ladies who are putting on 2 for 1 seem to be cooking up something unique. An Excuse to Behave Badly sounds like a really smart and fun concept. I am intrigued by the ambitious premise of She Kills Monsters. I am sure there are plenty more I would love to see but honestly those are some of the folks who I have met at office hours that caught my eye.

I look forward to a Fringe year when I can be just an attendee and have more time to learn about other shows instead of focusing so much on ours.

BL: Finally, have you made the trek to the last remaining Blockbuster in Bend, Oregon?
TW: I have not. I would love to. Fortunately, there are a handful of video stores still operating in the LA area that I have gone to recently to help inspire the show. In particular, Cinefile Video in Santa Monica made me feel at home, so if any of this conversation makes you miss the experience, go check ‘em out and show them some love!


An American Video Store plays June 9-29 at the Stephanie Feury Studio
Theatre, 5636 Melrose Avenue. Specific dates, show times and ticketing
information can be found on the Fringe site.


Voices from the Fringe: Singer/Performer Victoria Gordon

Making her Fringe debut this year is singer, actor and Los Angeles native Victoria Gordon, who is bringing her cabaret show to the Complex in Hollywood. The piece, entitled Victoria Gordon — Live at the Hollywood Fringe, is a combination of musical performance and comedy.

In anticipation of her upcoming appearance, Ms. Gordon spoke with Better Lemons about her show and her all-around Fringe experience.

VICTORIA GORDON - LIVE AT THE HOLLYWOOD FRINGEBetter Lemons: You performed this show before, right? What’s different about this Fringe production?
Victoria Gordon: I did perform a version of this show before — in September 2018 at the Broad in Santa Monica. But I knew that wasn’t the finished version. As soon as I got the video of that show back, I started taking notes to figure out what I liked and what I didn’t. And I used that to refresh and expand my repertoire, which also led me to write new monologues. At the end of the day, while some of the songs are the same, almost everything around them is different.

BL: And the music… How were the pieces selected?
VG: Everything came to me differently. I love musicals and listen to cast albums all the time, so sometimes, a song just hits me and I think, “I have to sing that!” That’s how the song “Another Round,” from Bright Star, ended up in the show - I was at the Ahmanson, watching the cast perform it, and I just knew I had to do it. Others are old favorites, like “It Might As Well Be Spring,” or characters I’ve dreamed of playing, like Mabel Normand in Mack and Mabel (that’s how I wound up with “Wherever He Ain’t,” one of Mabel’s big moments). And then there are the songs I never imagined singing, but someone else suggested and I quickly realized that they were right. “I Am What I Am” is one I never saw myself performing, but my sister told me I had to give it a try, and now it’s a cornerstone of my act — thanks, Natalie!

BL: How about the band? Did they accompany you in last year’s show?
VG: Two out of three, yes! I met my Musical Director-slash-drummer, Sam Webster, through two contacts: my arranger and a studio musician I trust. They both recommended Sam, so I contacted him and we hit it off right away. He brought in both my bass player, Chelsea Stevens, and pianist, Adam Bravo. Adam is new for this show. He wasn’t available in the fall, but I’m a huge fan already!

BL: Is this your first time at the Fringe? How are you enjoying the experience?
VG: This is my first Fringe as a participant. I had no idea what to expect going in, but I’m really thrilled to be part of it! I’ve met so many incredible people and learned so much about theater and performance. This is such a great and inclusive community.

BL: What makes “Live” a good fit for the Fringe? What can audiences expect?
VG: My show is a throwback. I’ve been describing it lately as an “old-school nightclub act,” back in the day when lounge singers were off-duty Broadway performers. It’s not something that many people my age do anymore, but it’s the only music I’ve ever wanted to sing, and I think Fringe audiences are used to less-than-expected offerings.

Audiences can expect to laugh a lot — usually with me, but sometimes at me—and to hear showtunes they know and love (or maybe a few they don’t know yet!). It’s also just a fun show. I modeled it after Bernadette Peters and Jane Krakowski’s shows, and what I love about them is that they’re just enjoyable shows, filled with entertaining stories and great songs. Nothing too dramatic or depressing; it’s a lighthearted but still touching show.

BL: Tell us a bit about your background.
VG: I grew up in Los Angeles, as did both of my parents, so all of my grandparents were very active in my childhood. My mom’s family was all musical; my dad’s family worked in TV comedy. Both sides were very accomplished, so I got to see what it really takes to be successful in music or entertainment. I grew up playing the violin, but later switched to singing, and haven’t looked back since! I always wanted to be an actress and singer, and got into writing in my teens. I started producing comedic film and TV projects for Amazon while still in college, and post-college, that became my full-time job. But when the opportunity to stage a solo cabaret came up, I jumped at the chance, and Victoria Gordon Live was born. It’s been a great way to put everything I know — performance, production, and live events — into practice at once.

BL: Since the Fringe is a collaboration, what other shows intrigue you?
VG: So many! I have a folder filled with sixty-ish Fringe flyers and they all sound like great shows. I am especially excited for Bunny the Elf, because Christi Pedigo has brought so much sunshine to Fringe this year; Leaving Prince Charming, because Lara Repko’s story is so personal and moving; and Batter Up! My Brain on Baseball, because the idea of a baseball trivia show is just so Fringe.


Victoria Gordon — Live at the Hollywood Fringe plays June 6 (preview) through June 27 at the Complex Hollywood’s OMR Theatre, 6468 Santa Monica Blvd. Information and ticketing can be obtained on the Fringe site.


Voices from the Fringe: Lucy Gillespie, Writer of ‘Son of a Bitch'

Another piece making its world premiere at the Fringe is Son of a Bitch, the story of the controversial political strategist Lee Atwater. It was written by Lucy Gillespie, playwright of last year’s Keeping Up with the Prozorovs, and directed by Billy Ray Brewton, who helmed last year’s A Beast/A Burden at the Fringe.

Ms. Gillespie took some time from her busy Fringe schedule to talk to Better Lemons about the new show.

Better Lemons: What was the inspiration for Son of a Bitch?
Lucy Gillespie: Lee Atwater is an awesome character. I wanted to work with Billy Ray Brewton, and this was right up his alley. Also, it's a fun writing challenge to condense all that history/spin into plot.

BL: As a native Brit, what did you find intriguing about the story of Atwater, one of the most polarizing political figures of our time? Why tell his story now?
LG: Though I grew up in the UK, my mother is from Chicago, and she raised us to self-identify as American. This was confusing and alienating for me as a teenager living in London in the early 2000's, where the last thing you wanted to be was American.

When 9/11 happened, my friends all cut school to protest "Americanization.” They burned effigies of President Bush in the streets. I was often called upon to explain or apologize for the atrocities of my people. Looking back, I think that's a big part of what led me to leave the UK at 18. I felt unwanted, like I had to pick a side.

I first learned about Lee Atwater in 2008, when I was living in Chicago after college. Between the devastation of the financial crisis and the upswell of hope from the Obama campaign, the air was very charged. I saw a documentary about Lee, became obsessed, and read every book I could find. I think I felt like that was whom I needed to channel and become in order to survive in America. I wrote a play about him, The Atwater Campaign, which went on to become an O'Neill Finalist, effectively starting my career as a playwright.

Politics is a perennial topic — and especially now. A lot of folks are asking how we got here. The answer is, largely, Lee Atwater.

But he was a much more complex, charismatic, compelling human than the demonized bogeyman/genius the liberal and right wing media make him out to be.

BL: How do you hope audiences will react to the piece — on both sides of the political spectrum?
LG: It's interesting because you assume — or I did — that a bunch of theater people in LA will all be ultra-liberal, preaching to the choir. Between the cast and crew, we actually represent a wide political spectrum. So much so that we had to put the kibosh on talking politics after some workshop readings got heated...

Our intention is to show Lee Atwater as a man, and how his personality catalyzed a dramatic shift within the Republican party, and subsequently American politics. We have no interest in theater that's dogmatic or preachy. We want everyone, regardless of political stripe, to laugh, lean in and learn.

Left to right: Billy Ray Brewton (director), Corsica Wilson (Gladys), Chloe Dworkin (Cass), Lucy Gillespie (Playwright)

BL: Tell us a bit about your collaboration with the director, another Fringe veteran, Billy Ray Brewton. How did you work together on the piece? 
LG: I saw Billy Ray's A Beast/A Burden last year, thought it was hysterical and brilliant, and knew I wanted to work with him. Though The Atwater Campaign was an O'Neill Finalist, it had never been produced, so I'd been sort of roaming the earth looking for a home for it ever since. In August 2018, I sent that script to Billy Ray — a Southern boy like Lee — and he signed on immediately. We chatted about story/character/cast/production throughout the year, and then I rewrote the entire script for him before rehearsals started.

It's been an equally scary and thrilling ride. There were definitely moments in April where I wanted to cut and run, never to be heard from again. In theory, I love to devise and workshop; in practice you need a foundation of trust to give in to the process. My baseline is neurotic, and Billy Ray is so chill. It took me a minute to realize that's because he trusts me, and he's not worried. That helped me relax and go with the flow.

Now we're rehearsing, and I'm in awe of him and the actors. He has such a quick, brilliant mind for orchestration. It's a master class watching him zoom in to the tiny details, then zoom out to the big picture. I'm super excited to share this with the world.

Ben Hethcoat (Lee Atwater), and Luke Forbes (George "W" Bush)

BL: Is there humor in this show?
LG: For sure. I'd describe the tone as political satire.

BL: Tell us about the performers and how they came to be cast in their roles.
LG: The cast is a mixture of Prozorovs and Burdens. Ben Hethcoat, who played Chris Burden last year, is reviving his 70s hairstyle for Lee Atwater. Corsica Wilson, playing Gladys, is also a Burden alum. On the Prozorovs side, we have Chloe Dworkin — who you may recall as the pregnant, constipated Olga - playing Cass. Luke Forbes, who played the Kanye-esque Demetrion, is now a young George W Bush.

Rounding out the cast are David McElwee (writer/director of Rory and the Devil, also in Fringe), who is bffs with Ben from college, and Dennis Gersten, who saved all of our asses by signing on at the last minute as George H W Bush.

BL: What makes Son of a Bitch a good fit for the Hollywood Fringe?
LG: It's bold and funny, fast-paced and hard-hitting. We work hard, but we don't take ourselves too seriously.

BL: What brings you back to the Fringe again this year?
LG: Last year was so much fun. Between the show rehearsals, our tight and loving Chekhovian-Kardashian cast family, the wider network of Fringers, and all the great theater we saw, it was just a blast. I spend the rest of the year writing screenplays and pitches, which is lonely and somewhat more creatively constricting, so I've been counting down the days. No joke, I hit up Billy Ray about this project in August.

BL: Since the Fringe is an environment of collaboration, what other shows are you interested in seeing?
LG: Rory and the Devil (of course)
Public Domain: The Musical
Treason
The Duchess and the Stripper
If We Run
Sex with Strangers
Raised by Wolves


Son of a Bitch plays June 6 (preview) through June 29 at the Broadwater, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd. Find show times and make reservations on the Fringe site.


The Winners at the 50th Annual 'LA Drama Critics Circle' Awards Ceremony Held at the Pasadena Playhouse

The 50th Annual LA Drama Critics Circle Awards at the Pasadena Playhouse, Monday, April 8, 2019. (Photo by Better Lemons)

The LA Drama Critics Circle (LADCC) held their 50th Annual Awards ceremony at the landmark Pasadena Playhouse where Better Lemons was in attendance to live tweet the evening's festivities and entertainment, Monday, April 8, 2019.

Wenzel Jones presided over the festivities, and Christopher Raymond served as music director with musical performances by Kristin Towers Rowles, Constance Jewell Lopez, and Zachary Ford.

There were four recipients of the 2018 Production award: Cambodian Rock Band (South Coast Repertory), Come From Away (Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre), Cry It Out (Echo Theater Company), and Sell/Buy/Date (Geffen Playhouse / Los Angeles LGBT Center).

Better Lemons' Chief Operating Officer Stephen Box (Left,) Publisher Enci Box, and Playwright & Screenwriter Steven Vlasak at the 50th Annual LA Drama Critics Circle Awards at the Pasadena Playhouse, Monday, April 8, 2019.

The Antaeus Theatre Company received the most awards, with three of its productions winning a combined seven trophies. Celebration Theatre's Cabaret took home six awards, the most awards for a single production, including one for Revival. Tom Hanks received a lead actor award for his performance as Falstaff in The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles production of Henry IV in a competitive category. 17 awards were presented in other categories with 17 productions taking home the honors.

In its inaugural this year, the Theater Angel award was presented to Yvonne Bell in recognition of her "long career devoted to fostering theater in Los Angeles ... [and] successful fundraising campaigns" to help open several cultural institutions, such as The Museum of Contemporary Art and the California Science Center.

Eight previously announced special awards were presented, including the Margaret Harford Award for sustained excellence in theater to Sacred Fools Theater Company and the Ted Schmitt Award for the world premiere of an outstanding new play to Lauren Yee for Cambodian Rock Band.

The LADCC was established in 1969  “to foster and reward merit in the American Theater and encourage theater in Los Angeles,” the LADCC site quotes from an announcement in the L.A. Times of that year.

Here is the list of award recipients as announced during Better Lemons' live coverage on Twitter:

Featured photo by Enci Box - Theatre patrons in the courtyard of the Pasadena Playhouse for the 50th Annual LA Drama Critics Circle Awards, Pasadena, California, Monday, April 8, 2019. Enci Box contributed to this story and photos.


Dixie Longate Always Hawking Tupperware Hilariously

Ever-so-smartly combining her expertise in Tupperware selling and her deep-seeded need to be on a stage, Dixie Longate will be bringing her DIXIE'S TUPPERWARE PARTY to the Kirk Douglas Theatre November 28 through December 30. I had the chance to chat with Dixie on her arduous path from parole to being an awarded Tupperware Lady.

Thank you for taking time out of your Tupperware selling for this interview with me, Dixie!

How long have you been a Tupperware Lady?

I started selling Tupperware 17 years years ago as part of the conditions of my parole.

What first motivated you to become a Tupperware Lady?

My parole officer told me I needed a job in order to get my kids back. I thought to myself, "Damn it!" The law! Argh. But she suggested that I start selling Tupperware. I did my first party after she lifted the restraining order and had so much fun drinking and showing people these creative food storage solutions that I thought, "I could do this forever." Then I went to my first "Jubilee," the annual Tupperware convention. I saw all of these amazing ladies being recognized onstage for their accomplishments and I knew I wanted to be on stage getting recognized too. 17 years later, I have been on that stage at the convention many times, and all of the warmth and good wishes I get from that celebration keep me going all year long.

How closely do you have to adhere to Tupperware's corporate rules in selling their product? Is there much more leeway now in 2018 than there was when you first started?

The thing that is pretty impressive about Tupperware is that they have this great business model that is a framework. They encourage you to drape whatever kind of fantastic, fun party over that frame work and go for it. Everyone at Tupperware corporate has been overwhelmingly kind and supportive throughout the years.

How close have you ever been to being awarded a pink Cadillac?

No! That's Mary Kay.

Oops! My bad!

I have gotten plenty of awards for all of my achievements at Tupperware, but the classic Pink Cadillac is definitely a signature of Mary Kay.

Describe the light bulb moment of you first coming up with the idea of turning a Tupperware party into a one-woman stage show?

I had been doing parties for years in people's living rooms. A director friend of mine from NYC saw me at a party and was having so much fun that he said to me, "You should put this on stage. There is a real show here." I thought he was just being neighborly so that he could make out with me behind the dumpster, but it turns out, he was being serious. We worked on it and took it to New York City. The response was so friendly that it became a little hit, and then went on tour. I have now been touring for just over 10 years. It's crazy, right!?

You've sold Tupperware all around the world. Do you do your show in different languages?

I have had to battle some funny accents in my day in order to understand what people are saying. But most of the time, I have understood enough from their body language that I can order a vodka in over eight languages, just by hand gestures. Most of the places I have traveled to, I can decipher what they are saying, but every so often, I have to bring one of them "wherever the heck do you mean when you say that" phrase translation book. The main thing is that "Food Storage" seems to be a universal language. Lucky for me.

How many languages do you speak?

Counting that thing that I can do with my leg without even having to touch it? One.

What's your record take for a show?

I think my biggest party was a little over $5,000 in sales. It was a giant group of friends who all had one goal, get creative food storage solutions for their homes. The Party Host got awarded more free Tupperware than any other host I have seen in my life! But the most important thing isn't how many bowls people buy, it's how much fun they have at the party. That's my goal. I want to make sure they are having a blast!

Do you find certain Tupperware pieces sell better in specific cities?

Of course. In places like New York where people have smaller apartments and don't have space to entertain, the fun party bowls and servings sets don't really do well there, but the modular storage stuff is amazing. In a city like L.A. where people love to get together with friends, the opposite is true. In Texas, they really love a place to stick their meat for marinading. In the heartland, we got something for your butter. Wherever you are, I have something for you.

How many pieces of Tupperware do you have in your own kitchen?

My kitchen is packed with all kinds of great crap from over the years that I have been selling. Some of it I use every day, and some of it is vintage stuff that I have picked up in my travels or have been given by friends who know that I love me some classic Tupperware.

What's your oldest Tupperware piece?

My meemaw gave me a bowl that she got as a wedding present back in the 50's. It has her name scribbled on the bottom in sharpie so that when she would take her ambrosia salad to the church social, she would make sure to get it back. Those people who bought Tupperware when it first came out were hawks about keeping their bowls on a short leash. They didn't ever want to part company with them. It's one of my favorite pieces.

What do you look for in picking an audience volunteer?

One of the things I love best about doing my show is that I get to have people up onstage helping to demonstrate with me and play along. It's a party after all. I don't want people just sitting on their hands staring at me and listening to me yammer on about containers for days. I want people to get up and have fun with me. I look for people who are excited to be part of the party.

What's the most memorable audience interaction you had during one of your shows?

I have been blessed to have so many fun moments over the years. I had a woman laugh so hard she coughed her dentures into her hand. We all thought she was having a stroke, but it turns out, she was just laughing so much that she was overcome with the giggles. I had a woman make tee-tee on her seat from laughing, and then she was brave enough to tell me about it. Bless her heart! I had a woman at a show in Nashville tell me that after her momma, a lifelong Tupperware lady, had passed away; they put her ashes in her favorite container and have them on the mantle. The list is long and ridiculous. Trust me.

What's your favorite Tupperware piece to demonstrate?

Each of the pieces I show have special meaning to me because of the stories that I share about them. It's like your children. How can you pick a favorite? I mean, most people honestly can, but then they say they can't in order to not hurt the feelings of the ones who didn't turn out as well. For example, I couldn't possibly tell you that I liked one of my children better than the others, except for my son who is my favorite, but I don't want the other two to know it because then they will frown and pout. I'm real busy, so I don't have time to try to make them feel better. OK, it's the wine opener. That's my favorite.

If I have bowls and lids that don't completely close to burp, can you help me replace them?

The lifetime warranty is one of the things people love the most about Tupperware. If anything ever goes bad with your Tupperware, I can replace it free of charge. When you buy it, you buy it for life. There aren't many things in life that have a warranty. If they did, things would be so much easier. For example, have you ever tried to take an empty jug of wine back to the store and say that it was defective and it didn't come filled up? They would never put more wine in it. Not one time. And I have tried it everywhere. It's just a crying shame. More things need to come with a warranty.

I've been to a few Tupperware parties myself. Bought some pieces and always left with some little cute swag. Can Kirk Douglas audiences expect a little swag giveaway when they attend your Tupperware party?

At the end of the party, I'll be out in the lobby helping people get their Tupperware and giving hugs and meeting people. While I don't have the ability to give every single person a little gift just for coming, you can rest assured that everyone can leave with a hug from me. And after all, isn't that what life is all about, a hug from a really, really pretty lady?

So, what cities are next on your Tupperware tour?

I am putting together my whole tour schedule for next year as we speak. I'll be in places like Fayetteville, Arkansas and Chandler, Arizona. I'm possibly going back to Des Moines, Iowa and Denver, Colorado. All the places that you associate with a good time. I'm also chatting with theaters in Philly and New York. Chances are within the next year, I'm coming to a city near your friends or family.

Do you, Dixie Longate, have any other future non-Tupperware projects you can share with us?

I always have ideas floating around in my head that I'm working on. I have another show that I do when I'm not doing DIXIE'S TUPPERWARE PARTY called NEVER WEAR A TUBE TOP WHILE RIDING A MECHANICAL BULL (AND 16 OTHER THINGS I LEARNED WHILE I WAS DRINKING LAST THURSDAY. I keep touring around with that and I'm hoping to bring it to L.A. sometime very soon. I have the beginnings of another show that I have started scribbling down on the back of bar napkins. I've actually done a bit of stand-up story-telling within the last year after being pressured by some of my friends. I swear you ain't heard the last of me after you have seen my show.

Thank you again Dixie! I look forward to attending your Tupperware party at the Kirk Douglas and adding to my Tupperware collection.

For ticket availability and show schedule through December 30, 2018; go to DixiesTupperwareParty.com


Friday Features – Sweet Shows This Coming Week

Better Lemons has lots of registered shows and lot of show have Critics and Audience reviews posted. Here you can see their favorite shows and when you click on each show, you will see all the critics and audience reviews and ratings. From there you can choose what your theatre adventure this weekend will be. We wish you a fantastic weekend!

DAMAGED FURNITURE

Under Milk Wood

Fallen Saints: Dark

Three Days in the Country

THE MOTHER F**KER WITH THE HAT

Outlaw

WAITRESS

Doctor Zomba’s Ghost Show of Terror

The Crucible

I AM SOPHIE

Haiti

YELLOW FACE

Coriolanus

Arrival & Departure

Aleichem Sholom! The wit and wisdom of Sholom Aleichem

PARADISE – A Divine Bluegrass Musical Comedy

Side by Side by Sondheim


Always Flying High, Kate Linder's Ever Paying & Moving Forward

Known to The Young & The Restless aficionados for 36 years as Esther Valentine; as well as, the personable United Airlines stewardess to UAL passengers, Kate Linder takes on another role - that of Sarah in DESPERATELY SEEKING LOVE opening at the Whitefire Theatre June 29, 2018. Kate managed to find some time between flying, rehearsing and fundraising to answer a few of my queries.
Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Kate! It's been quite a while since our paths have crossed at an opening or charity event I've covered.
Between your day job (The Young & The Restless), your other day job (United Airlines flight attendant), and your various charities involvement (ALS Association and others), how do you juggle your time to be a part of Ryan Paul James' DESPERATELY SEEKING LOVE?
You know what they say, if you want something done, ask the busiest person you know!
What forces of nature brought you to this project?
I ran into some friends of mine and they told me about the project. Once I read it, I knew it was something that I had to do.
Did you happen to see the 2012 production of this at The Pierson Playhouse with Bernie Kopell and Mariette Hartley?
No, but if I had known about the production, I'm sure I would have gone to see it.
Would you describe your character in DESPERATELY SEEKING LOVE?
Sarah was married for 35 years. Her husband has passed away and now she is trying to figure out how to move forward with her life.
Does the character of Sarah hit too close to home for you? Or is that why you chose to take it on?
Sarah is definitely in the same stage of life that I am. Reading the play for the first time was an unbelievable experience. Some of the dialogue is exactly what I have said myself. It was almost as if Ryan had been inside my head.
Do you find this role cathartic in dealing with your Ron?
It's too soon to tell until the play opens, but I'm hoping that it will have a cathartic effect on me. I just know that I was instantly drawn to it because of the parallels to my own life since I lost my husband of 42 years.
What would you say was the key for your successful 42 years in marriage? That's like 294 dog years in Hollywood!
Definitely communication and mutual respect for each other. Every time I left on a trip, I always left a note on his pillow.
What would Esther Valentine say or do to console Sarah? Would Esther be the one to push her into dating again?
Esther would tell Sarah to hang in there. That things will get better.
You are a fan favorite at the Y&R conventions. What's the most outrageous fan incident that you can laugh about?
Thank you. As the police were escorting a problematic couple off the airplane, one of them turned to me and said, "Aren't you Esther on The Young & The Restless?"
Airline passengers must do double takes recognizing you as you recite the safety instructions. Do you do them as Esther Valentine? Or as Kate Linder?
I am usually the Purser and since the safety demonstration is serious, it should not be done in a humorous way.
As a former office-holder in both AFTRA and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences; what improvements in the Los Angeles theatre community have you noticed since you settled down in Los Angeles in the late 1970s?
I'm a current and longtime SAG-AFTRA board member, but I think that question would be better answered by a member of the Actor's Equity board instead.
What upcoming charity event would I have a good chance running into you?
July 15th is the 20th anniversary of the Vancouver Afternoon Tea with Kate Linder & Friends benefiting the Canucks For Kids Fund. I fly up with several of my The Young & The Restless castmates and Robin Wyss, my charity tea partner, always makes sure that the fans and the castmates have a wonderful time while raising money for a great non-profit.
Any immediate plans in the near future for Kate Linder, besides being Young and Restless and flying United?
I'm looking forward to bringing Sarah to life in DESPERATELY SEEKING LOVE and helping to introduce this wonderful play to a new set of theatregoers.
Thank you again, Kate! I look forward to seeing you live on the ground! (You know, as opposed to on the tube or in the air!)
For ticket availability through August 3, 2018; log onto WhitefireTheatre.com


Voices from the 2018 Hollywood Fringe: Daniel Donohue, Co-Star of ‘Coke and Mirrors' Comedy Magic Show

Daniel Donohue and Eric Siegel, the stars of last year's hilarious The New Bad Boys of Magic, are staggering back to the Hollywood Fringe to continue the story of their misbegotten magicians and to demonstrate some more inebriated prestidigitation.

In anticipation of Coke and Mirrors' June 3rd premiere, Donohue took some time to answer questions for me about the new show.

What is the inspiration behind this newest assault on the Fringe?

Frankly, the Hollywood Fringe Festival is one of the few venues in town that hasn't permanently banned us. If our “Amazing Disappearing Fifth of Rum” trick from last year didn't get us kicked out, surely our “Cups & Tide Pods” routine will.

I take it this is a continuation of the same characters. What more will fans discover about them?

Coke & Mirrors tells the whole history of the New Bad Boys of Magic, from our sad childhoods to our glory days as Las Vegas headliners, right up to the present day as Los Angeles children's entertainers. It will be painful, but at least we can all drink.

How did you manage to lure producer Greg Karber and director Nick Paul into your trap?

Nick Paul is one of the finest magicians in the world and a headliner at the world-famous Magic Castle. We cornered him in the Castle parking lot, and he agreed to direct us as soon as we put the air back in his tires.

Our producer Greg Karber hired us for our first gig two years ago, and he has since gone on to become a successful theatrical producer and film director. Coincidence? We think not.

What compelled you to return to the Fringe this year?

Definitely money. The massive profit margins we make producing our show at Hollywood Fringe are reason enough to return. Also, we love meeting crazy people. Er, sorry — actors.

Can you hint at any mystifying illusions you'll be throwing at the audience?

Our closer is a trick entitled “Nocturnal Prediction.” It's filthy.

What have you guys been up to since Bad Boys?

Every month, we host a magical variety show called Dirty Tricks at Three Clubs in Hollywood. You should check it out. The other magicians are way better than us, we promise.

Since the Fringe is such a collaborative experience, are there any other shows you'd like to give a shout out to?

Several of our friends have devised an ensemble piece called The Elevator. In the true spirit of Hollywood Fringe, we will definitely trade comps with them and then not go.

Coke and Mirrors plays three dates — June 3, 10 and 17 at Three Clubs, 1123 North Vine Street. Tickets and showtimes can found on the Fringe website. Grab your tickets now!


Voices from the 2018 Hollywood Fringe: David Lucarelli, Writer of ‘Dr. Zomba's Ghost Show of Terror'

The writer talks about the ghost shows of yore, their relevance in today's society and its manifestation at the Fringe.

Making its world premiere at the Fringe is the intriguing-sounding Dr. Zomba's Ghost Show of Terror, a throwback to the theatrical ghost shows that were popular from the 1930s to the 1960s. Writer David Lucarelli was kind enough to answer some questions about the show.

What was the inspiration behind the creation of Dr. Zomba?

I was at Comic-Con one year and I stumbled on a book called “Ghost Masters,” by Mark Walker, about the history of the ghost shows. I found out the ghost shows were this spooky, funny, scary magic show that featured hypnotism, mind reading, a séance, monsters and ghosts. I was immediately fascinated by this lost bit of spooky Americana. I really wanted to see one, but since very few people are doing them anymore and it's kind of a lost art. I figured the only way to see a ghost show was to write one and put it on myself!

What will audiences be experiencing? Is the piece immersive?

The climax of every ghost show is an immersive “blackout sequence,” in which the audience is in total darkness and surrounded by supernatural phenomena they can see, hear and feel! They had all kinds of tricks to make this happen. We went back and studied the ghost show manuals from the '50s, and came up with a few new tricks of our own.

What's your personal history with the ghost shows of yore?

I'm a monster kid and a horror writer. I grew up loving Halloween, haunted houses, Scooby Doo, TV horror hosts, Rocky Horror, Famous Monsters of Filmland, etc. This show is for all the misfits like me.

What are the skillsets of the talent involved?

Dr. Silkini's Ghost Show was considered one of the top ghost shows in the 1950's. A few years ago when the people that had the rights to Dr. Silkini were looking to bring the show back, they hand-picked our star, David M Beach, to be the new Doctor Silkini. That didn't end up happening, but we've very lucky to have David as the star of Doctor Zomba. David is an actor, comedian, magician, juggler and ventriloquist, all of which makes the perfect skill set for him to be the ringmaster of our ghost show!

Kerr Lordygan plays Ear-Gore. He is a Fringe veteran and an award winning actor, director and playwright. Tamara Torres plays Sirena. She's an actress and dancer who has appeared in film, television and music videos. S. Alessandro Martinez is a horror and fantasy writer who is making his stage debut as Dracula. Our director, Kevin Wetmore, is the Professor and Chair of Theater Arts at Loyola Marymount University. Fight choreography is one of his specialties and we'll be utilizing that talent — among many others — in the ghost show.

I wrote Tinseltown, the critically acclaimed crime drama from Alterna Comics, and The Children's Vampire Hunting Brigade graphic novels.

Given the time restrictions of Fringe, how will the logistics be handled?

We allowed ourselves twice the normal time to set up our show (30 minutes, vs. the usual 15). And since we're the final late night show at the Flight theater every Saturday night, we won't have anybody breathing down our necks on the back end, either.

It is. Abacab Studios is the name for all my creative projects. I stumbled on the Fringe Fest last year when a co-worker at Fox invited me to see her perform in a play and I ended up going to four other shows! You can find out more about my other work at abacabstudios.com.

And what makes the show an ideal fit for the Fringe?

The ghost show is a lost art, but you can see its influence in the séances at the Magic Castle, in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and in the graphics of artists like Rob Zombie. It's in some ways the last vestige of vaudeville, and in other ways is still on the cutting edge of immersive experiences.

Since the Fringe is collaborative, are there any other shows you'd like to give a shout out to?

So many shows sound so compelling I want to see them all! I won't make it, but I'm going to try. Blackballed, about the history of Negro League Baseball, sounds fascinating. Lights Out in the Hermit's Cave is a performance of some of the classic spooky radio shows of the 30s and 40s. Dracula's Taste Test and Cthulhu: The Musical! both sound like really fun shows that might appeal to fans of Doctor Zomba's Ghost Show.

Final comments: We want as many people to see this ghost show as possible. You can save $3.00 off tickets with discount code: BetterLemons. For Fringe participants, tickets are only $5.00 for all shows, and the show is free for Fringe Volunteers.

Dr. Zomba's Ghost Show of Terror plays June 2, 9, 16, 18 and 23 at various times at the Flight Theater at the Complex, 6472 Santa Monica Blvd. Tickets can be purchased on the Fringe site.


Voices from the 2018 Hollywood Fringe: Lucy Gillespie, Writer of 'Keeping Up with the Prozorovs'

Making its world premiere at the 2018 Hollywood Fringe Fest is playwright Lucy Gillespie's comedy Keeping Up With the Prozorovsa mashup of Chekhov's Three Sisters and the Kardashians' reality show. She took the time to answer some questions about the piece for me.

What inspired you to write this mash-up?

Last February, I broke my back in a snowboarding accident, was airlifted to a hospital, then rushed into emergency spinal fusion surgery. The week after surgery was terrifying. I had no idea what my recovery would involve, or if I'd ever walk again. I was in constant pain, too scared to move in case I injured the surgery site. It was during this week that I watched the Kardashians for the first time. I'd always been aware of them, of course, but with the distanced dismissal of a self-confessed snob.

But now, heavily dosed on a variety of opioids, I fell in love with them: their beautiful china doll faces, their soft round curves, their warmly-lit homes filled with plush, tasteful furniture. In Kardashian-land, there is no pain; only spa treatments, new car smell and an abundance of healthy snacks. This was heaven, the ultimate manifestation of the American dream. After a few episodes, it occurred to me (theater nerd that I am) that Three Sisters had finally made it to Moscow.

What's it all about?

As I said, Chekhov's Three Sisters have finally made it to Moscow (Calabasas, CA). At first, they are overjoyed. All their dreams have come true! Over time, the reality sinks in that wherever you go, there you are. And that the price you must pay to succeed in Moscow is everything you loved and took for granted back home.

How did you and director Katie Lindsay find the cast?

Facebook! Luke Forbes was in my webseries, Unicornland. Nikita Chaudhry is a fellow NYU alum, Christopher Soren Kelly is my friend's partner. Fabianne Meyer and Chloe Dworkin went to high school with Katie! Lauren White and Janai Dionne know each other from improv circuit, and came to us through a friend of Katie.

What do you hope audiences will take away from the show?

Laughs! Most of our artistic decisions have been made in the name of fun. Everything I write has themes, a message, et cetera, but we really just want people to have a raucous night at the theater.

Is this your first Hollywood Fringe experience? Is everyone ready for the lightning-fast switching that's all part of the Fringe?

Lucy Gillespie.

Yes, we are HFF virgins! But Katie and I both did the off-off-off-off thing in NYC and are well-seasoned in indie, self-produced theater. As a member of EST's Youngblood Playwrights Group, I regularly took part in the monthly short play Brunches where everything — writing, rehearsals, tech, full brunch — came together in a week. And Katie, Fabi and Chloe did Urinetown at the Edinburgh Fringe!

Since the Fringe is a collaborative venture, are there any other shows you'd like to give a shout-out to?

So many! My friend Chris Sullivan is producing Best Friend, which I've read and am really excited about. Our friend Cat LaCohie, benefactor of our corsets and furs, is producing a majorly sexy and fun burlesque show called Vixen DeVille Revealed!, and we're sharing actress Janai Dionne with Modern Romance.

What other plays have you written?

Webseries: Unicornland, 2016. Plays: One of Us, NYC 2014; The Forum, NYC 2013; Outfoxed, NYC 2012; and The Atwater Project was an O'Neill Finalist in 2012.

This piece is female-centric and diverse. Is that a common theme that runs through your work?

Absolutely.

Keeping Up with the Prozorovs plays June 3-23 at various times at the McCadden Theatre, 1157 N. McCadden Place. Specific times and ticket purchases can be located on the Fringe site.


Angel Kay Sedia's Always On Chico's Case

The infamous Chico's Angels will be opening their latest edition of their riotous, outrageous, hilarious, long-running (15 years!) series of Charlie's Angels drag homage - CHICO'S ANGELS 2: LOVE BOAT CHICAS on March 28, 2018. The self-proclaimed leader of these too, too funny Angels, Kay Sedia, managed to spare us some seconds of her most precious time between her many costume fittings, wig stylings and Tupperware functions. We even finagled a few moments from Kay's alter ego, CHICO'S ANGELS co-creator Oscar Quintero.

Mucho gracias for doing this interview, Kay Sedia!

You have worn many a bright colored dress and a huge wig in all your performances in CHICO'S ANGELS since 2003. Do you have your own personal Versace? Or do you sew your frocks yourself?

No, I have my own Versage. Her name is Carol, and chee has a quinceañera shop on Western. Please don't be jealous or try to approach her because chee is exclusive to me.

Just how many wigs is 15 years worth?

Worth one million dollars, if I had put a number to it. But I say I have about 35 wigs.

How much time needs to pass before you become emotionally unattached to them that you can throw them out?

10 minutes.

With all the shellacking, er, hair spray, how long does a set to your raven locks keep? A week? A Show? The run???

Just depends how active the cho is. Some have last for five minutes, and there are some that last for ten years. It just depends on the amount of work I'm willing to do for the cho. A few of them last ten minutes, but most of them hold their curls for ten years because I'm lazy.

You were born in 1999, out of pageantry necessity. Were you a product of immaculate conception? Or did you have 'help' in your creation?
No one can say they do anything alone, specially in the world of drag. Ju always need jur mentors. I had some help from some very fancy gay peoples in Hollywood - mainly Glen Allen, James Gray and a bunch of other queens.

Which would you pick as your moonlighting job - being a Chico's Angel? Or a top-selling Tupperware Queen?
Well, I tell ju! Tupperware is my yob, I enjoy it. CHICO'S ANGELS is my pasión. So ju decide! They both pay the bills. One just stores my food better.

Can I speak to your alter ego Oscar for a few moments? You can interrupt, er, join in, when you get the urge, OK, Kay? 

Si!

Oscar, did any particular person inspire your creation of Kay Sedia?
She is inspired by many women in my family. My mother, my aunts, and my sisters. Kay is a combination of them with the majority inspired by my mother. My mother was the most self-centered woman you've ever met. She was the life of the party and a bit clueless about how self-absorbed she was. But you loved her anyway.

What cosmic forces brought you and Kurt Koehler together to create CHICO'S ANGELS, aside from the wonderful Mr. Dan?

We were sitting next to each other and we were on our way to see the Plush Life. We met through the same circle of people. We didn't know each other that well and he told me about a project he was working that was called "Super Fag." I told him I had done this alter ego/superhero Kay Sedia, which was called "Taco Chick." My friend Glen was also sitting with us and mention it was similar to "Electric Women & Dina Girl" — yet like "Taco Chick & Salsa Girl." We all started laughing. Later, Kurt cast me in this film and that is when we started talking about CHICO'S ANGELS. Cut to about a year later, Kurt called to ask if he could direct CHICO'S ANGELS and I said he could direct it if he would help write it. AND... that's when the world of CHICO'S ANGELS began.

Okay, Kay, back to you... Describe your relaxation attire? Heels, si or no?
My cha-cha pumps are everything to me. They can help me climb walls and they can make me look sexy when I'm laying on the bed. Cha-Cha pumps are everything.

Do you prefer performing live on the Cavern Club Theater stage or shooting video on location?
I feed off the audience. I feed off their energy. I feed off their nachos if they have them on their table! There is nothing like a live audience for me. 

Which of your past CHICO'S ANGELS cases was your favorite?

We now have done five cases on stage and I would say my favorite would be a combo between the one where we are high school hookers, and when we go on the Love Boat. I just love the Love Boat one because of all disco music. I guess ju could say they're my twins. I love them both equally.

Tell us what you like most about Frieda Laye?

Chee's slutty and chee doesn't apologize. I aspire to be like Frieda because ju know, I'm a hopeless romantic and I have to fall in love. Frieda can spread them open, give it away and then walk away to the next guy - I wish I could be like that. Chee's my spirit animal.

Is there any quality you admire most about Chita Parol?

There's very little I admire about Chita Parol. Chee's so mean and so jealous of all my sexiness on a daily basis. But if I have to admire something of her - I admire her jealousy of me.

You've had Charo in your show, si?

Ches.

Tell us about your experience with Senorita Charo.

Speaking about spirit animals, chee is definitely my spirit animal. What I find so espiring about Charo is that chee carved out a little niche for herself in this crazy entertainment business that is predominantly Anglo. Charo is a classically trained guitarist, but even chee says "Cuchi-Cuchi!" took her to the bank. That's what I admire. I'm funny, I'm sexy, and I'm gonna let it take me to the bank, too.

What celebrity would you like the Angels to solve a case for?
Jaclyn Smith… That angel hasn't come to the cho.

Where do you find your CHICO'S ANGELS Hotties? Do you have a lengthy audition process?
Ches! We have a farm in Hollywood that's called "Chico's Estates!" That is where we groom them. We teach them how to learn lines, flex, and workout. Our one main acting technique for the Hotties is how to take their shirts off. It's a hard class, not many can do it. Frieda has to cho them how using her teeth, but it gets dangerous for her, chee swallows -- too many buttons! Chico usually tries to get the young actors as soon as they arrive here to LA. I can't tell ju how many have fallen in love with me. It's so sad, but I understand, my beauty is a curse. 

Do you know what your boss Chico is planning for you in the near future?

Chico's next assignment for us has us doing our variety cho. Later in the year, we will be back to celebrating our 15th anniversary on the stage with our original episode. There have been rumors that we might be moving to a “bigger” theater. Gil, there is a lot of good stuff coming up, and we definitely want to make our CHICO'S ANGELS feature film this year. Chico better make it happen soon, because I'm getting bored.

With LOVE BOAT CHICAS returning to the Cavern Club Theater at the Casita Del Compo beginning March 28, are you expecting your Angels aficionados to relive their LOVE BOAT experience and shout out your lines with you?
Thees is a scripted cho and does not include audience participation people! There is NO shouting out, unless ju're yelling, "Kay, ju are so SEX-EEEE!" By the way, I know that, so keep it that to jurself. (Kay is blushing)

And on a closing note, please share with your fans how you stay the "Pretty One" of the Angels? What's your diet and beauty secrets?

My diet consists of a lot of chips & salsa. I also do a guacamole mask which then I eat with the chips - it's almost like a two-for-one facial. Honestly, I try to do as little as possible in the arena of exercise. It's too much work, and I don't like it, and it hurts. Sexy is as sexy is. I can't help it.

Mucho, mucho gracias, Senorita Sedia! I look forward to laughing out loud at you and your fellow Angels. Hmm, I mean laughing with you and your fellow Angels, while oogling your latest CHICO'S ANGELS Hottie.

For ticket availability and show schedule through April 8, 2018; log onto ChicosAngels.com


SXSW 2018 Film Interview: Kai Nordberg and Kaarle Aho, Producers of 'Heavy Trip'

The producers of ‘Heavy Trip' talk about the making of first Finnish comedy to premiere at SXSW.

Touted as the first Finnish comedy ever to premiere at SXSW, Heavy Trip is the story of a group of best friends who are members of a band named Impaled Rektum, possibly the most obscure heavy metal group in Finland.

They've been perfecting their style in the basement for the past 12 years, but their ultimate dream is to escape their confines of their tiny village and land a real gig. When they stumble upon an original sound, they throw caution to the wind and hit the road to play the hottest metal music festival in Norway.

This delightfully offbeat comedy provides amusing jabs at familiar metal clichés, as well as a cast of characters that you can root for.

Kai Nordberg and Kaarle Aho, the film's producers and partners in the production company, Making Movies Oy, sat down with me on Saturday, Mar. 10 at SXSW to discuss the development of the film and the challenges of making the most expensive Finnish comedy ever produced.

What was the inspiration for Heavy Trip?

Kai Nordberg: It was the inspiration of the directors (Jukka Vidgren and Juuso Laatio), who came up with the idea for the film. We grew up in the ‘70s, the golden era of heavy rock coming up in Europe. So these two guys came up with a script that had all the rock clichés, but still treated it with respect. It was something we found inspiring. And it's great music!

Are any of the characters based on fact?

KN: Yes! The directors!

Kaarle Aho: Especially the [character] with the long hair (Turo) was loosely based on one of the directors. He was from a small village and he used to play heavy metal music. The real inspiration for him was having grown up in a small place where having long hair and listening to heavy metal music was a weird thing to do. It made him an outsider.

The way the characters in the film are ostracized, too. How popular is metal in Scandinavia?

KN: I wouldn't say all of Scandinavia. It's Finland and Norway. It's not popular in Sweden or Denmark. But it's still huge, especially in the countryside, outside the biggest cities. It's hard to say why, but it's a fact that Finland has the most metal bands per capita in the world. And Norway is number two.

KA: It must be something to do with the weather — or the aggressiveness of the music!

And it's the villages where it's popular.

KA: Yes, the villages. Hipsters live in the big cities.

How does it feel to have the first Finnish comedy premiere at SXSW?

KN: It's a huge honor and a huge achievement. We've been in business for 25 years, and...

KA: It's also the first comedy for our company.

Kaarle Aho and Kai Nordberg, producers of the Finnish heavy metal comedy ‘Heavy Trip' at SXSW (Photo: Kurt Gardner)

How do you think Americans will receive the film?

KN: I think it will go down very well. Much of the comedy is unintentional. It's based on the characters. We don't laugh at the characters — we laugh with them.

And I recognized the metal tropes. They're universal.

KN: Absolutely.

How were the actors cast?

KN: Basically, the directors had some ideas of who could be whom, and their main idea was not to take the most obvious guys — the famous ones — and bring in new faces.

KA: Did they all know how to play instruments beforehand?

KN: No, not at all. In the band, there are four characters and they each represent a genre. One is sub-heavy metal, one is thrash, one is death, one is shampoo metal. I was just at our domestic premiere, speaking with the costume designer. She said it was a very careful process to find costumes for every guy, for him to present a certain type of music within the genre.

There are some interesting special effects in the film. How were those handled?

KN: They were all done in Belgium, one of the co-producing countries of film.

KA: It was the last missing piece of the puzzle. We needed a co-producer to take care of the special effects.

KN: In terms of content, what special effects do you mean?

The characters jumping into the sea, the explosions; the huge concert venue.

KN: Basically, all of Norway, the mountains and the fjords, it's all built up. Most of it was shot in Helsinki. But it all comes down to the content. How can we put together a huge concert where they could perform? At some stage, we realized it was too complicated to do it outside.

KA: We wanted to go to a real festival and do it outside...

KN: We contacted festivals in Finland and Norway, but they have their own agendas. They can't just let us put an extra gig in the middle of their festival. So we said, “Okay. Let's have the concert in a cave, a huge cave." We started looking for that kind of location to see if it was possible, but it was not. There are a lot of shipyards in Helsinki, so finally we used a big shipyard building.

The effects do the job, and they do it well. They give the film a polish.

KN: That's true.

What was the most challenging thing about making Heavy Trip?

KN: It wasn't easy, I tell ya. It was such a great project. Still, at the end of the day, I would say it was the comedy side of it. Comedy is the most difficult genre in all arts. You can move the storyline, you can build up the characters, but is it going to be funny? This is the question. Is it going to work? Is this joke going to go over with the audience at all?

KA: Our domestic premiere in Finland was this past Tuesday. It was the first time we saw the film with a real audience. Still, ten minutes before the film, we didn't know if people were going to laugh. And you know, it's very embarrassing to make a film where no one's laughing.

KN: Luckily, they did laugh. They seemed to enjoy themselves.

Heavy Trip -Trailer (official) from Making Movies Oy on Vimeo.

Featured photo: Left to right: Max Ovaska, Samuli Jaskio and Johannes Holopainen in 'Heavy Trip' (Photo: Making Movies 2017)