“The Value of Moscow” at Sacred Fools
Paul Myrvold, Paul Myrvold's Theatre Notes
I like my comedy black, and the blacker the better. Amy Dellagiarino’s new play, The Value of Moscow, now playing at Sacred Fools, fits my predilection like an Armani suit. The relevance of the title to the action spools out with satisfying coyness, when three sisters enter from the snowy cold to unpack forty or more boxes of stuff into the apartment they are to occupy. It is clear at the outset that these women have issues, both personal and sororal. The effervescent Rose (Madeleine Heil), a first grade teacher, attempts to organize the unpacking with forced cheerfulness, in the face of glowering sister Emily (Tiffany Cole on the evening I attended), and morose Clara (Julie Bersani). Why are these ill-fitting siblings moving in together? Each suffers from the results of individual crises. Emily is a writing-blocked novelist taking a break from her marriage. Clara is just out of hospital after a botched suicide attempt. And Rose tries her darnedest to keep the fractured family together.
Fueled by a terrific script, the actors, under the smart, fast-paced direction of Carrie Keranen, seethe with wicked, hilarious banter as their individual natures are revealed. The sister act is tested with the arrival on a snowmobile of a pizza deliveryman, Cliff (Ryan Gowland on the evening I attended), who gets more attention than he bargained for. And later, Clara’s Irish Mafia boyfriend, Jimbo (Andres Paul Ramacho), shows up banging on the door. All get swept up in a delicious maelstrom of gallows humor farce. For those wondering about the title, cast your thoughts in the direction of dramatic literature. We are not in Moscow, Idaho.
Produced with wonderful simplicity and cunning stagecraft, The Value of Moscow boasts a scenic design by Aaron Francis, light and sound by Matthew Richter, and costumes and props by Linda Muggeridge. The stage is managed with authority by Billy Baker.
As my companion and I moved out of the intimate auditorium, through the tiny lobby, and out to the street, I started a giggle that morphed to a guffaw and led to laughter that carried around the corner and halfway down Lillian Way before it subsided. I am still smiling.
Produced for Sacred Fools by Marisa O’Brien, The Value of Moscow runs through Saturday, December 8 in the Second Stage at The Broadwater Theater Complex, 1076 Lillian Way in Los Angeles.
We received a GLOWING review from Stage Raw's Terry Morgan! Click the link to take you to the website, or scroll down to read!
The Value of Moscow Reviewed by Terry Morgan
Sacred Fools Theater Company
Through December 8
One of the best experiences for a theatre critic is encountering a talented artist for the first time and being able to say to one’s readers, “Hey, you should check this person out!” Happily, two such artists are part of Sacred Fools Theater Company’s world premiere production of The Value of Moscow. Actress Madeleine Heil steals the show with her irresistible comedic performance, while playwright Amy Dellagiarino displays a wicked wit in this very enjoyable production.
Three sisters have just rented a place which they plan to share. Emily (Devin Sidell), an author, is taking a (supposedly) temporary break from her marriage. First-grade teacher Rose (Madeleine Heil) is thrilled to be together with her siblings again, but is worried about her sister Clara (Julie Bersani). Clara is recovering from a recent suicide attempt and has left her boyfriend Jimbo (Andres Paul Ramacho), who’s purportedly in the Irish Mob. As the sisters unpack their belongings, their secrets begin to come out — along with a gun.
Heil is note perfect as the slightly dim yet sweet Rose, whose chirpy optimism and kindness barely covers a desperate need to connect. Sidell, nailing every bitter line, is excellent as the brittle Emily, and is equally good as her character becomes looser and goofier as the show goes on. Bersani has less success with Clara, perhaps because the character, as written, isn’t as convincing as the other two. Ramacho is very good as the surprisingly intellectual Jimbo, and Gregory Guy Gorden is quite funny as the hapless pizza deliveryman, Cliff.
Director Carrie Keranen gets great, nuanced work from her cast, and ably manages both the quiet moments and the crazier ones. Linda Muggeridge’s costumes are well-chosen, from Rose’s cheerful green sweater/red skirt combo to Emily’s darker purple and black clothing. Dellagiarino, skilled with humorous dialogue, is especially adept at capturing the combative repartee between siblings (“Is that your comeback?” “Is that your face?”). She also gets good mileage from the play’s connection to Chekhov’s Three Sisters: her own work becomes meta-theatrical as her characters often discuss the classic play. The show isn’t perfect – the character of Clara doesn’t seem as credible or individual as the others, and the last half of the play feels more artificial than the first. But overall you come away with the impression that Dellagiarino is a playwright to watch. Her talent is clearly apparent.
This is a terrific production of a seriously fun show, and I recommend it highly.
The Broadwater Second Stage, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; through Dec. 8. www.sacredfools.org. Running time: approximately one hour and 10 minutes, with no intermission.
Check out our article in Broadway World, or scroll down!
Sacred Fools' THE VALUE OF MOSCOW Makes World Premiere on Friday
by BWW News Desk Nov. 5, 2018
"There's no place like home... to make you wanna kill somebody." Season 22 at the Sacred Fools Theater Company continues with the world premiere comedy The Value of Moscow by Amy Dellagiarino and directed by Carrie Keranen. The show opens Friday, November 9 at 8:00 pm and runs through Saturday, December 8, 2018 in the Second Stage at The Broadwater Theater Complex.
Three grown "adult" sisters are thrust back into living together as a last resort after their various lives have fallen apart. This trio can't even agree on how to unpack their stuff much less their relationships and pasts. And before they can finish the bottle of vodka they found in the kitchen, everything goes from bad to worse, to a lot, LOT worse. Can they set aside their grievances long enough to work together and save themselves? Probably not. But with acerbic wit and an encounter with the pizza man, these three sisters aim to find out.
After receiving her BFA from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, Playwright Amy Dellagiarino returned to her native Chicago before eventually making her way to Los Angeles. Other plays by Dellagiarino include The Misfit Mantra at 2Cents Theatre Group (winner of Best Comedy at this year's INK Fest), Break In from the 2016 Hollywood Fringe Festival and Inhale and Exhale, which was produced in 2015 by Chicago's Something Marvelous Theatre Company as part of the Festival of Magical Realism.
Director Carrie Keranen is a Sacred Fools member whose Fools credits include Resa Fantastiskt Mystisk, Watson and the Dark Art of Harry Houdini, countless Serial Killers appearances and is the company representative on the Sacred Fools Board of Directors. She is also a voice actor and director with dozens of credits voicing anime, cartoons, and games. The Value of Moscow is her mainstage directorial debut at Sacred Fools.
The design team consists of Fools veteran designers Aaron Francis (Scenic Design), Matthew Richter (Light and Sound Design) and Linda Muggeridge (Costumes and Props).
The cast of The Value of Moscow stars Julie Bersani, Madeleine Heil, and Devin Sidell with Gregory Guy Gordon and Andres Paul Ramacho. The understudy cast features Tiffany Cole, Heather Klinke, and Nikki Mejia with Brendan Broms and Ryan Gowland.
There's always something happening at Sacred Fools, including Serial Killers, The Joe and Joshua Show, Ten Tops and We The People. For more information on these and other upcoming performances, please visit www.sacredfools.org.
Tickets are LIVE for the world premiere of The Value of Moscow!
November 9th - December 8th
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm
Sundays at 7:00 pm (no Sunday performances opening or closing weekend)
at the Second Stage at Sacred Fools - 6320 Santa Monica Blvd
Runtime is approximately 75 minutes with no intermission.
Get your tickets at www.sacredfools.org!
Amazing artwork by Mara Hesed (instagram: @hesedmara)
Happy to share the interview I did with Voyage LA! For the full article (complete with pictures! Oooooh!) click here.
Meet Amy Dellagiarino
Today we’d like to introduce you to Amy Dellagiarino.
Amy, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was always an artistic (and kinda weird, let’s be honest) child, so pretty much right away it was obvious I would go into something creative. I was very lucky to have encouraging parents who never made me feel like I should pursue something more practical (to this day I’m pretty sure it’s my mom’s greatest dream to have me and my sister write for The Muppets, so if you’re listening to Jim Henson people… Margie Dellagiarino would REALLY like to make that happen…)
I fell in love with the theatre pretty early on. I think, as an introvert, acting was an amazing way to get to live out all these colors I felt protective against showing other people in my own life. I was 100% positive I would live in New York forever and be an actor, and I did do that for a long time.
I got my BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and lived in a teeny tiny railroad style apartment (New York people know what I’m talking about) with way too many other people, until one day I woke up, looked around at my room (which was really a glorified hallway) and at all my clothes stuffed onto a rolling garment rack (because there were no closets), and at the tiny shaft of light from my super skinny prison/castle style window that looked DIRECTLY INTO MY ROOMMATE’S ROOM and thought “… what am I doing?”
So I decided to pack it up and move to Chicago and do theatre out there for a while until I was ready to come back to New York. At some point during my time in Chicago, theatre was making me more frustrated with life instead of less. It just seemed like all the fun parts in plays were always male roles. I was REALLY tired of essentially playing the 17-year-old who’s trying to get a date to prom (I mean, I get that when you’re a 17-year old that stuff can matter, but when you’re in your 30’s it sort of… isn’t the most rewarding character arc to explore.)
I started writing, mostly as a creative outlet so I didn’t go insane. I worked on drafts of two different novels, wondering if maybe that was a direction I should go in, but never had much success with that world. And then one day after seeing a friend’s show I had an idea for a beginning of a play. So I started writing it. A million drafts later, that play is called “The Value of Moscow” and is now being produced by Sacred Fools Theatre Company in Los Angeles as part of their 22nd season.
At some point between that very first draft of my very first play and today, my brain made the switch from acting to writing. I cannot even really explain it, it just felt like my way of expression was switching from one medium to another. The feeling I get from exploring an entire world with wonderful, strange characters all fighting to be heard inside of my head is so rewarding — I know that I’ve finally found what I’m meant to be doing.
And yes, I realize that I’m not in New York. From Chicago, I moved to LA so… in the opposite direction. But I’ll get back to New York one day. I miss those fruit carts too much.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Oh my goodness NO. I had been an actor for so long I had a real struggle with letting it go. I had a miserable couple of years where I just couldn’t get cast in basically anything, and I felt like theatre was trying to push me out entirely. It was awful. I wrote out of desperation because I didn’t know what else to do. When I finally acknowledged that I was getting more reward out of writing than acting it felt like I was breaking up with someone I had been dating since I was 12 years old. (Sorry for that kind of gross image.)
For a long time, I felt like I didn’t know who I was or what my purpose was. I locked myself in my apartment and painted a lot during that time, mostly because I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. Once I fully felt called to writing and started pursuing that, it definitely did not get easier. When people ask what you do, and you say you’re a playwright, it sounds fake. Seriously! I felt like such an asshole responding with “oh, I’m a writer” or “oh, I’m a playwright” when people asked what I did. It was really hard for me to own up to it.
People want to know where your stuff went up if they’ve heard of it, how many productions you’ve had, blah blah blah… and when you’re just starting out it gets really depressing. Even though I had tons of scripts I was working on, it still felt like I wasn’t really doing anything. It was a lot of submitting to theatres who had no idea who I was and therefore most likely never even opened my email, let alone cracked open my script(s). It was a lot of work, constant writings, readings held in my apartment with friends, revisions, going to theatres to see their work and meet the people in charge, endless submissions, and feeling like at the end of the day I had zero to show for it.
But honestly, that’s the hardest part about any creative life. The way to become successful isn’t like any other “normal” job — there’s no ladder to climb or list of points to make sure you check off in a certain order. It’s a crap shoot. And you can’t control a crap shoot. You just have to work hard, be pleasant, and hope for the best.
We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I consider myself a playwright primarily. That is where my heartbeat is.
When I work on a script, I rarely have the plot points figured out for the first draft. I usually decide on the space where the action is taking place, maybe what the overall problem is going to be, and then just sit back and watch characters start to inhabit the space. I love working like this because it really becomes about the characters and their relationships more than anything else — and relationships are what endlessly fascinate me. Human beings are so strange! Why do they make the choices they make? Why do they say (or not say) the things that they do? What do they find funny? What scares them? Working like this is a blast because usually, I end up getting surprised by where the characters end up taking the story. There’s nothing like letting the characters write the play for you. It is like magic.
I think I have a very specific style and tone in my work. (I have been told by some that I have a McDonagh/Sorkin quality to my writing, which I am repeating here because I desperately want it to be true.) The easiest way to describe it is “dark comedy,” but I’m not sure if that’s even right. All my characters are exploring something, and all my characters are broken, but they all use humor in different ways as they explore the places where they are hurting the most. There’s something about the idea of not knowing where you belong, or what life IS exactly, that I am endlessly exploring (probably because those will always be questions I ask myself and never quite know the answers to.)
Above all, I am COMMITTED to writing complex female characters. I remember this gripe from my acting days all too well — I refuse to write characters that are just one thing. For example, if a 17-year-old prom queen DOES show up in my script for whatever reason, she’s probably got something else going on. Maybe she’s a serial killer. I don’t know. Just saying… it’s possible. Everybody’s got secrets.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I honestly have no idea. I think all my time acting was absolutely not wasted — I think it’s what gives my scripts life and makes me the kind of writer that I am.
I guess maybe I just would have been kinder to myself. Probably that’s something we should all be doing for ourselves.
That being said, I HAVE always stated that if I could live TWO lives, in the second one, I would be a marine biologist. So possibly I would have become a marine biologist. But who knows. I think I would have found my way to the arts eventually, even if I was surrounded by majestic sea creatures.
We officially have a cast everyone!!!
Directed by Carrie Keranen
Devin Sidell as EMILY
Madeleine Heil as ROSE
Julie Bersani as CLARA
Gregory Guy Gorden as CLIFF
Andres Paul Ramacho as JIMBO
So excited/proud that Freelancers Anonymous has earned the Reframe Stamp for gender balanced media along with such films as Crazy Rich Asians!
Click to read the full Variety and Hollywood Reporter article.
Take a look at the amazing company we are in:
A Simple Favor
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Crazy Rich Asians
FREELANCERS ANONYMOUS (!!!)
Jane and Emma
The Long Dumb Road
The Polka King
Five Feet Apart
Untitled Pippa Bianco Project
PRESS RELEASE FROM BROADWAYWORLD.COM!
The Sacred Fools Theater Company is excited to announce its upcoming 22nd Season (2018-2019) along with the opener for its 23rd Season in the fall of 2019. The announced shows include three World Premieres and a West Coast Premiere, plus a co-production of a local favorite that took home the Top of Fringe award from the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
Starting in September with Resa Fantastiskt Mystisk by Burglars of Hamm and followed in November by The Value of Moscow by Amy Dellagiarino, Season 22 continues in the early Spring of 2019 with Too Heavy for Your Pocket by Jirén Breon Holder and concludes with Tangerine Sunset by Peter Fluet. Season 23 will kick off in the Fall of 2019 with Deadly, a new musical with book and lyrics by Vanessa Claire Stewart, music by Ryan Thomas Johnson.
"This season has so much of what Sacred Fools does best," says Artistic Director Aviva Pressman. "Shows that are different, push the envelope, take a stand, and are full of the best kind of foolishness."
Resa Fantastiskt Mystisk
(Opening October 2018)
Collaborating again with Sacred Fools after the acclaimed co-productions Land of the Tigers and The Behavior of Broadus, Burglars of Hamm will present their acclaimed production of this previously unknown masterpiece by Swedish playwright/provocateur Lars Mattsun (1849-1912). Through Mattsun's surreal theatricality and stunning wordplay, the audience is engulfed in the tale of a troubled young man named Philip, who follows a Mysterious Child into a world of art, sexuality and madness. Much of the original cast and production team return, including controversial director Todd Merrill. Resa has played to great acclaim in Los Angeles, Seattle, Edinburgh and New York, and won the Top of Fringe award at this year's Hollywood Fringe Festival.
"We are always thrilled to partner with Burglars of Hamm," notes Artistic Director Scott Leggett. "They are masters at holding the funhouse mirror up to nature, and Resa is a show that takes our artistic self-importance to task, in a clever and reflective way. We are delighted to bring this show to a wider audience."
The Value of Moscow by Amy Dellagiarino
(World Premiere, Opening November 2018)
There's no place like home... to make you wanna kill somebody. Three grown "adult" sisters are thrust back into living together as a last resort after their various lives have fallen apart. This trio can't even agree on how to unpack their stuff much less their relationships and pasts. And before they can finish the bottle of vodka they found in the kitchen, everything goes from bad to worse, to a lot, LOT worse. Can they set aside their grievances long enough to work together and save themselves? Probably not. But with acerbic wit and an encounter with the pizza man, these three sisters aim to find out. The Value of Moscow will be first mainstage show performed in the Broadwater Second Stage under the direction of Carrie Keranen.
"I love three things about The Value of Moscow: The eldest sister, the middle sister and the youngest sister," explains Keranen. "In them I see woman I know, women I have been, women I try so hard not to be, women I have yet to admit live inside me. If this play weren't so funny it would be downright tragic."
Too Heavy for Your Pocket by Jirén Breon Holder
(West Coast Premiere, January 2019)
In rural Tennessee at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, two young African-American couples struggle to understand justice, love, and their own responsibilities. Too Heavy for Your Pocket beautifully explores the sacrifices and tolls in the fight for freedom and equality that are placed, not only on the fighters, but the people they love. The play had its World Premiere at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta before moving to the Roundabout Theater in New York and won the 2017 Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition. This West Coast Premiere will be directed by Celebration Theatre Co-Artistic Director Michael A. Shepperd and will be performed in the Broadwater Black Box.
"We have been tracking Too Heavy For Your Pocket since its world premiere, and were deeply affected by the poetry and humanity on display in Jirén's work," Artistic Director Bryan Bellomo says. "We are honored to bring a west coast premiere to Los Angeles, and thrilled to finally have the opportunity to partner with Michael A. Shepperd, the perfect director to tell this delicate story of aspiration and familial love."
Tangerine Sunset by Peter Fluet
(World Premiere, Opening March 2019)
This homegrown play will close the 22nd Season in the Broadwater Main Stage. In the vein of Absolutely Filthy, Watson, A Kind of Love Story and Beaverquest!, Sacred Fools brings you another show created in its late-night comedy cauldron, Serial Killers. Tangerine Sunset tells the story of how, on a private island, on a palatial estate, a party attended by billionaire capitalists, movie stars, insane geniuses, and regular people cursed by fate, found themselves trapped on a dark intersection that led to murder, mayhem, and laughter. This show was part of the Fools' New Works Development Program and went through over a year-long process of workshops and re-writes. Tangerine Sunset will be directed by JJ Mayes (Live! From the Last Night of My Life, The Magic Bullet Theory).
"Tangerine Sunset is a larger than life, hilarious, Sacredly-Foolish play in every sense," producer Brian Wallis points out. "Peter Fluet and JJ Mayes have crafted a side-splitting, edge-of-your-seat, gothic horror-comedy that is truly worthy of a night at the theater. It's a fitting end to a Foolish season."
Deadly, book and lyrics by Vanessa Claire Stewart, Music by Ryan Johnson
(World Premiere, Opening Fall 2019)
1893. A time of hope and optimism as the World's Fair turns the globe's eyes toward Chicago. But within this cultural explosion of art and technology, a demon lurks beneath. Taking advantage of the modern woman's adventuresome spirit, H.H. Holmes builds a hotel - a murder castle - to entrap and kill unsuspecting ladies new to the big city. From the team behind the critical and box-office hit Stoneface, playwright Vanessa Claire Stewart (Louis & Keely, Live at the Sahara), composer Ryan Thomas Johnson (Watson), and director Jaime Robledo (Mr. Burns, a post-electric play), Deadly examines one of the most famous true crime cases in history, through the unlikely lens of the victims' experience.
"Much has been written and lionized about 'America's First Serial Killer,' H.H. Holmes. But in the age of Me Too, I wanted to give these brave women their voices by reframing the narrative," Stewart says. "I think it is time to reconsider the man whose legend has grown while these 'disposable women' have been forgotten. The victims had all dreamed big enough to adventure alone to a new city- what could they have become? And how would they have enacted revenge if they could?"
The Broadwater Plunge
Sacred Fools is also excited about The Broadwater Plunge, the new bar in the heart of Theatre Row catering to theatergoing crowds open now in the Broadwater Theater Complex. For more information, visit www.thebroadwaterla.com. For media inquiries about the establishment, contact Colin Baugh at Emblem PR, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Along with these mainstage shows, Sacred Fools will also continue its tradition of late-night and off-night programming, with announcements about ongoing shows and new programming coming soon.
No Patron will pay more than $15 for a Sacred Fools show
We believe that theatre should be accessible to everyone. That's why, for our 22nd season, we're continuing our commitment to lower ticket prices so that anyone who wants to experience live theatre has the opportunity to do so.
Sacred Fools Theater Company, the resident theater company of The Broadwater, 1078 Lillian Way (Santa Monica Blvd. and Lillian Way) on Theater Row, is a non-profit, ensemble-run theater company founded in 1997, committed to the development of new plays and projects that challenge traditional expectations of the theatrical experience.
For more information about any of our programming or the company itself, contact us at email@example.com and visit www.sacredfools.org.
For information regarding The Broadwater, please visit www.thebroadwaterla.com
So excited to announce that Freelancers Anonymous has won the Best Women's Feature Jury Award at the North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival!
Get your tickets! It is screening on August 18th at Durham-Carolina theatre!
So excited to share! Take a look!
Playwright, screenwriter, artist, author and everything in between...