It won’t be the first time Vodrey’s plays have been performed in New York, but getting into the New York Fringe is a gold-star entry on her resume.
The play is “Hard Day’s Night,” which audiences first saw last year at the KC Fringe Festival. It depicts the comically dysfunctional Kelly family, a quirky clan in which a 17-year-old protagonist communicates only through Beatles lyrics while her mother obsessively collects Disney memorabilia and tends to the remains of her dead pets.
It’s part of Vodrey’s pattern: Showcase a play at the KC Fringe and then take it to New York. Two previous shows by Vodrey — “Hanky Panky” and “Thank You Notes: Headed to Heaven With Flat Jimmy Fallon” — went directly from the Kansas City Fringe to the Midtown International Theatre Festival held each summer in the Big Apple. She was able to maintain the Kansas City casts for both of those shows when they were performed in New York.
For “ Hard Day’s Night” however, she cast New York-based actors — although three of them are from the Midwest — and had to line up a director and designers. New York Fringe shows are staged on tight budgets with minimal technical aspects because they have to be set up and dismantled quickly. “Hard Day’s Night” will share a venue with several other shows. Vodrey said she’s considering hiring a publicist so that her play doesn’t get lost in the shuffle among hundreds of offerings at the New York Fringe, which runs Aug. 14-30.
Vodrey will also have a play in this year’s KC Fringe: “Sue Aside,” a two-character piece she described as a drama. Featuring Scott Cox and Laura Jacobs and directed by Warren Deckert, the show will be at Just Off Broadway Theatre, 3051 Central in Penn Valley Park. The premise is that a therapist’s ex-boyfriend makes an appointment to see her under an assumed name.
The Kansas City festival runs July 16-26. See the complete schedule at KCFringe.org.
Annual Greek shows coming to an end
David Luby, founder of Gorilla Theatre Productions and a local experimental-theater pioneer in the 1980s and ’90s, last week announced he was discontinuing an annual tradition that he began about 25 years ago: the early-morning staging of an ancient Greek play on the south steps of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
“It is with great trepidation and sorrow that … I can no longer continue Gorilla Theatre Productions,” Luby wrote in a statement. “After 25 years I must make one of the hardest decisions in my life and say goodbye to Gorilla. I would like to thank all of your for your hard work and support through the last 25 years for keeping Gorilla going. It could not have made this far without you.… So needless to say, my heart breaks in saying there will be no Greek show this year.”
In an interview, Luby offered a simple reason for the decision: “Gettin’ old, Bob.”
Luby said he had been diagnosed with arthritis and no longer had the energy to devote to the company he founded. He said the first Gorilla production was “Plan 9 From Outer Space” in 1988. Gorilla Theatre incorporated as a company the following year. Most of the Greek shows were staged on the south side of the Nelson-Atkins museum, although some were performed at the Charles B. Wheeler Amphitheater on Brush Creek.
Luby’s goal was to eventually stage all extant plays by the ancient Greeks. He usually alternated comedies and dramas from year to year.
He said he is in the process of dissolving the company and will donate all the props and costumes to the Paseo Academy, where he has taught technical theater for 14 years.
“I think there are some of my former board members who are working on establishing a company to take over the Greek shows,” Luby said. “I just don’t have the energy anymore. It’s one of those things. Age sneaks up on you.”