I met the playwright of Nighthawks, the new play at Marigny Theatre. Evan Guilford-Blake won the playwright competition for Saints and Sinners last year, and attended the festival this year, where I met him. He's a long-hair, a wizard-like gay man. We attended a lecture on television writing, and then spoke about Nighhawks in the lobby of the Bourbon Orleans hotel. He's going to see his play staged for the first time at the Marigny Theatre, this Saturday night. I look forward to discussing it with him after he's seen it.
I saw Nighthawks Thursday night, at a preview dress rehearsal. The second act is obviously the play, the first act is related, but not as focused or emotionally cohesive. The scope is broad: racism, loneliness, love. The two pieces together travel a broad emotional terrain.
This is a very strong cast, the strongest I've seen yet in Marigny productions. All of my favorites, Lisa Davis, Mandi Turner, Don McCoy, Carlos Gonzales (amigo!), and Keith Launey (big respect, buddy). Two actors who are new to me, one I know only by reputation, fierce additions to a cast I know, much needed energy in a somewhat low-energy rehearsal.
Couple technical glitches, one that would be very embarrassing during the regular run. Glad they worked it out in rehearsal. I only point it out because it was *the* problem, the only problem as far as the audience knows, and frankly, Marigny Theatre needs to address its tech. Too many glitches of this kind occur for such high quality work. Apparently there was a missed sound cue. I know because I read the director's blog, but the actors gave it away also. There was a long pause, something was obviously supposed to happen, and the actors all furtively looked at one another, the dead give-away. Next time that happens, somebody start talking.
Don, bring more barrel-chested virility to the role. Expand your chest, for starters, and project that operatic voice you have. Mid-way through first act, we find out you're a loud-mouthed racist and bully. That should be obvious from your first line. It also deepens the conflict your girlfriend has about staying with you.
Lisa, no notes. You chew up scenes. I really like seeing you play against type. The Not Vixen.
Mandi, you have the best outfit, hands down, which was my gripe about our last play together. You're perfect for this role, the right age and physical type, with a fresh innocence. I don't think your character comes across retarded. I think she's slow, physically and emotionally damaged, and yet trusting and innocent. Hardly retarded. You bring a complex Rhonda to life. No worries.
Keith Launey, go into fey territory. You're convincing as a dissipated, ego-centric actor with intimacy problems. Hmmm... Experiment with gay now, especially in the scenes with the also-not-so-gay Carlos. When gay men are alone together, without straight people, we take off the straight world like a coat, and relax into gayness.
Carlos, you bring two interpretations to roles that serve essentially the same function in both acts, yet are different people. You're the unifying element between the pieces. In the first act, you're clearly trying to differentiate through accent and mannerism, but the accent is inconsistent, and unclear. Is it yokel? The discussion you have about why you stay at the diner is when I see your character most clearly. In the second act, I don't see the internal conflict your character has over Keith's presence, former best friend and romantic rival. For Keith's emotional break down scene to ring true, your tension needs to be palpable through out, not just in that scene.
Tim Bellow and Derrick Deal I would not presume to give you notes. You're obviously both very experienced, confident actors. These folks above are my friends, and we've all worked together. I know they're coming here, and wanna make sure everybody gets their 02 cents worth.