Building on the success of last year’s Fringe show, HOW TO SOLVE A BEAR, The GROUNDSWELL PLAYERS – (aka LEO CALLAHAN) are mounting a new production this weekend in cooperation with the PHILADELPHIA JOKE INITIATIVE entitled LITTLE PLATES, BIG TAPAS. Billed as a ‘darkly comic offering’ – the show is a scripted play, workshopped from improvisation, and then subsequently fine-tuned under the direction of DAN PLEHAL.
Set in a pasta joint, newly handed down to a culinary trained son – the show explores the comedic clash between big city dreams and small town realities as he attempts to turn the little establishment into a high profile tapas eatery.
SCOTT SHEPPARD, JESSE PAULSEN, JACK MEANEY and ALISON KING brought their previous experiences from How To Solve a Bear into the production, this time joined by long time Leo Callahan collaborators NICHOLAS MIRRA and NICK KERR. Kerr’s character even sets the mood with some piano playing.
While improvisation is a tool utilized by many writers during the development process, for theatrical newcomers like Mirra, the experience of honing and performing that material is something very different indeed. “I came to (the show) with the perspective of an improviser and writer, not an actor… it’s been an exhilarating and challenging process.”
For Mirra, the work has evolved from something familiar yet fleeting, to a body of work with real sustainability. “We tend to appreciate and then forget, because it’s improv and inherently transient… trying to capture, define and repeat is not something I’m accustomed to worrying about.” And it’s in that repeated execution that the reward becomes evident. “Everything we do on stage is imbued with intention and forethought.”
And just what can we expect from this little labor of love? I think Mirra sums it up best… “(the show) is a small-town comedy located at the intersection of food, family, love, loss, ambition, and Himalayan fungi.”
Little Plates, Big Tapas runs just four nights, Feb. 11-14 at the LATVIAN SOCIETY (541 N 7th St). But if you’re looking to catch a glimpse of this limited engagement, you’d best move quickly. Friday and Saturday shows are already sold out. Tickets are available at the Philadelphia Joke Initiative’s website.