Thursday, May 18, 2017

Three Times the Charm - Money & Run Trilogy at The Schmee

Money, Take Run (Dave Hastings)
Money & Run –
Money, Take Run
Of Nuns and Ninjas
Save the Last Dance For Run
Theater Schmeater – in repertory
Through June 10, 2017

Wayne Rawley really got his opportunity to begin seeing plays he wrote at Theater Schmeater in 1999. He told me, in a brief conversation in a marathon night of seeing all three of his Money & Run shows in one evening, that he wrote the very first episode of Money & Run for a Schmee late night run. Late night shows were on fire back then and got huge audiences. Usually, they are funny and made more funny by drinking a few before and during the show.

So, he wrote this episode about a young man named Run and a young woman named Money who “meet cute” by sticking up a bar at the same time – not planned together! And then they go count the money and fall in love. He ended up writing eight more episodes.

As the Schmee headed into their 25th Anniversary season, they decided to have him direct three of the episodes. They gave him permission to cast three entirely separate casts, partly because he was interested in seeing different people play the same roles.

This is a massive undertaking for this small company. They are running one or two or all three episodes on various evenings. If you want to do what I did, you can sign up for all three on a Saturday night and start at 6:00p.m. and go till about Midnight thirty!

The very best one, for me, was the first episode: Money, Take Run. It also has the best overall cast, though every cast has standout members. This cast scores big numbers for having the right attitudes towards the farce. It’s a Southern good-old-boy spoof with lots of booze and characters that look simple but are way smarter than you think. Lisa Branham is my favorite Narrator, ever, who somehow delivers all her lines with a giggle. Megan Ahiers cracks me up with her completely off-the-wall O.T., the town drunk, and astounds as she changes characters and costumes about 2,000 times.

Money, Take Run introduces the entire concept of Cudrup County and the orphanage that Money grew up in and why Run got his nickname, and why Jimmy Jack Bodeen has been following him like Javier followed Val Jean in Les Miserables

Of Nuns and Ninjas definitely has a fight between the Nuns and the Ninjas. Guess who wins? Yup. You are right.

Save the Last Dance For Run is focused on a dance contest with a $10,000 prize that everyone wants to win. There is some fun choreography for that by Kendra Pierce.

All of the shows have fights. They are kind of “cartoon” fights, but expertly choreographed by Ryan Higgins with moments that slow down until a fist or other body part connects and then the actors *snap* into reaction. They make the entire experience so much better and more fun!

Set designer Reiko Huffman coordinated with Rawley to create a versatile “bar room” style set with many, many, many hanging signs that keep getting changed out to help you know where you’re looking. And costume designer Julia Evanovich had 32 characters to clothe – and more, because a few planned substitutes will be needed here and there when some actor has to step out for a night. Some of them have to be changed very quickly!

All of the cast members are clear about the style of their pieces. It is great fun if you do see multiple episodes, since you will see up to three different Runs and Moneys and Big Mamas and O.T.s and Bodeens and Narrators. They all have the same kind of dialogue, but it can be very intriguing to watch the different characterizations. The trouble that Money and Run get into is different in each episode, but they all reveal Money and Run’s good hearts. Because, of course they have good hearts!

Here are the descriptive blurbs that the press release used to describe each of the episodes. They’re all fun, so it’s hard to choose which night. Saturdays, you can see all three.

Money Take Run  It’s love at first shot when Money & Run meet cute and sparks fly! Soon, M&R are in love and on lam from the Law, the Man (who’s a woman, by the way) and, of course, themselves. That’s one heck of a lot of lam, so put your good shirt on and head down to good old Cudrup County to see the day it all began!

Of Nuns and Ninja’s It’s high-octane hi-jinks when Money & Run go head to head with a big box of redneck ninjas and whole bag of bad medicine to save an orphanage and work on Money’s less than perfect credit rating!

Save the Last Dance for Run  Bop ‘till you drop takes on a whole new meaning when Money and Jimmy Jack Bodeen have to hustle to save a saloon and stop Big Momma’s Beautifully Bodacious Baddie from melting Run’s heart. For Good! But will the Hustle be enough?

For more information, go to www.schmeater.org or call 206-324-5801.