Here We Go Again! Another Wild 24 Hour Play Festival Cures The Winter Blues

Allen's Alley picAnother edition of Allen’s Alley focuses on the fun and games at a unique event in our theatre community.

Round Three of the 24 Hour Play Festival was another huge success for Theatre Lab and The Players Project Theater Company. This time we were treated to six plays written in seven days then cast, rehearsed and presented on stage in 24 hours. I was honored to judge once again along with 3-time judge Max Foizey of Max on Movies and first timer Alan Knoll. It’s wonderful to include one of St. Louis’ foremost actors and directors on board as a judge- another perspective on the proceedings.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 9.37.12 AMChatting with Alan after our ballots were turned in, we both agreed that the opening play was the most clever and well written, full of surprises and- best of all- the most innovative use of this season’s required insert into the play, a winter-related prop. “Cringe,” written by Jason Klefisch, used the snow shovel as one of the major ingredients in the plot and offered several audience-gasping moments. Nick Kelly won again as best actor for the evening while Matt Pentecost and Ben Watts were outstanding as well. Todd Shcaefer of the Players Project directed.

Another clever script by first time playwright in the festival, Wendy Renee Greenwood, brought three sisters together in “Trinity Park.” The always incredible Rachel Hanks was joined by the equally amazing Mollie Amburgey and Larissa White in the play directed by Rachel Tibbets.

Cast and crew assembled and ready to tackle the scripts for 24 hours.

Cast and crew assembled and ready to tackle the scripts for 24 hours.

“What You Need” by Carl Wickman was the shortest and strangest play of the night as we all wondered what was real and what wasn’t when Michelle Catherine was visited by salesman Brian Claussen for a mid-winter encounter. Chris Chi directed this one.

“R.O.M.E.R.O.S,” by Greg Fenner used a wild and wooly premise to tell of a rather unusual father/daughter reunion. Em Piro, chosen as best director for the evening, brought laughs from the script and from her insightful movement and gestures of the father and the creation of an interesting dialogue that everyone understood despite not understanding the language involved. Jason Klefisch took on the role at the last minute (but does that really matter when you’ve only got 24 hours?) and Blaire Hamilton also shines as the daughter of this “mixed marriage.”

Zak Allen Farmer checks in again with a zany script called “Fun And Games In The Bedroom.” Far from the sex romp you might expect, Ellie Schwetye does a masterful directing job in handling Margeau Steinau, Reggie Pierre, Troy Turnipseed (another late entry to the acting ensemble) and Carl Overly Jr. as they try to figure out the question that is puzzling them all through a haze of smoke.

A scene from "Line," awarded best ensemble for the evening.

A scene from “Line,” awarded best ensemble for the evening.

Finally, Spencer Green brings us “Line,” a Victorian mash-up that won best ensemble of the evening along with best actress for Amy Kelly. She’s joined by Kimi Short and Evan Kuhn in an improbable fight over a turkey. Theatre Lab Artistic Director Ryan Foizey directed this unexpected series of events that led to a prim and proper (almost) version of catching a greased pig.

While votes were being tabulated, we were treated to an improv presentation by Zero Hour Playfest Troupe. Pat Niday of the Improv Shop hosted the festivities. This was a very busy theatre week-end but, if you’ve never attended a 24 Hour Play Festival, you’ve got to put it on your calendar for the next one. This is truly, as I said before, the most fun you’ll have in the theatre. The cast, playwrights and directors are tireless. How they manage to accomplish all of this in such a short time is nothing short of amazing.

Thanks again for a great time and don’t forget to support local theatre including Theater Lab and The Players Project throughout 2015 and beyond. You’ll be rewarded with even more impressive local theatre whether it takes several weeks or only 24 hours to bring it to the stage.

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