The ‘Alt’ Version Wins: Staged Reading of Raucous Comic Andrea Alton’s Short Plays to Benefit E.A.T.

Image courtesy of Andrea Alton

BY SCOTT STIFFLER | The very funny, much-missed Andrea Alton emerges from her COVID-compelled absence with an event that puts a “donor” feather in her cap, already festooned with plumage for work as a multi-disciplinary writer (plays, sketches, monologues), director, performer, producer, and publicist. We’re kidding, of course—Alton would never cover her exceptionally beautiful hair with a cap. But she is donating proceeds from the staged readings of her two short plays to Emerging Artists Theatre, whose fall New Work Series happens through Oct. 24 at TADA! Theater in Chelsea. If you cannot attend, purchasing a ticket will still allow Emerging Artists Theatre from benefitting from this… benefit.

“It’s been a crazy year and a half and it’s also been awhile since I’ve been excited about something creatively,” said Alton, in an email preview of the event, which also noted, “All audience members must show ID and proof of vaccination at the box office. Additionally, all participants and staff have been vaccinated and everyone must wear a mask while in theatre.”

Okay, so you’re through the front door. Now what? Well, first up it’s The Motley’s, which finds middle-class Minnesotans Frank and Rita pushing themselves to branch out from their “nice boring middle-class life” to pursue “a once in a lifetime adventure.” So, naturally, off “to Lake Superior” they go. On the lake? Around it? Playwright Alton, wearing her publicist’s cap, plays it deliberately cagey in the preview material, noting only that once there, our far-from-comfort-zone couple “don’t exactly find what they were expecting.” Oh, world’s largest freshwater lake—you delight in turning our world simply topsy-turvy! The night’s second offering is Return, which finds April ready to return to the world after quarantine ends—or is she? Fifteen months without a face-to-face interaction has left her as wobbly as Sammy, whose return to work at Frugal Frocks for Fashionistas sure beats being “trapped in an apartment with her chirpy super optimistic girlfriend for over a year.” Or does it?

Alton the playwright seems poised to show us the side of the coin opposite her beloved character Molly Dykeman, a poetry-penning lesbian who lunges at every perceived slight with a sword of justice that, upon inspection, is the burrito she’s been working on. A life force whose indoor voice has left the building, Molly’s not shy about sharing her opinion, well-informed or not. The folks who drive both of these new works from Alton—whether set in their ways or eager to break from routine—seem to be introverted siblings to the unchained ID of pre-COVID character Molly, whose day job as a school crossing guard arms her with a sense of control none of Alton’s new characters seem to be equipped with, as they (notes the playwright) “come to terms with the new normal.”

Written by Andrea Alton, directed by Marshall Mays / Creative Team: Anthony Catanzaro & Irwin Kroot / Production Associate: Merry Alton / Performers: Andrea Alton*, Annie Edgerton*, Desmond Dutcher*, Emily Verla* & Allen Warnock (*Appearing courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association).

Wed. Oct. 20 and Sat. Oct. 23, 7pm at TADA! Theater (2nd Fl. of 15 W. 28th St. btw. Broadway & Fifth Ave.). Advanced tickets recommended. The theatre seats 100 but the seating has been cut down to 50 seats. Fifteen-minute talkback following the show. Total runtime, approx. 60 minutes. For tickets, click here.


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