Great job, NKU!

I want to take this opportunity to thank Northern Kentucky University for a great production run of my play “Encore, Encore!” The Y.E.S. Festival ended this evening with a wonderful 5-show run of my play and two other great plays by David L. Williams and Joe Starzyk.

Kudos to Northern Kentucky University for hosting such an expansive and generous new play festival. It’s very rare to find an institution that invests so much in new work and does so much to give playwrights the opportunity to see their work given a full production.

Thanks to Rick Pender

Theater critic Rick Pender (who wrote a nice review of “Encore, Encore” – see here) gave the play another quick nod before its close this Saturday.

“If you’re into works that are hot off the press, you have this weekend to still catch productions at Northern Kentucky University’s Y.E.S. Festival, onstage through Sunday. The best of them is Colin Speers Crowley’s Encore, Encore, making its final performances on Saturday at 8 p.m. It’s about the caustic drama critic Dorothy Parker and her sad, failed marriage; well-written and sparklingly performed by a student cast, directed by Ed Cohen.”

Many thanks to Mr. Pender for his support!

Review #2 of “Encore, Encore”

I’m pleased to say that “Encore, Encore” was reviewed by Rick Pender of the Cincinnati CityBeat. Mr. Pender is Managing Editor of The Sondheim Review and also past chairman of the America Theatre Critics Association. He wrote a very favorable review of the play and gave well-deserved accolades to some of the play’s cast.

You can read a full copy of the review here – but here are some highlights:

“I caught Crowley’s excellent tragicomedy Encore, Encore on Monday evening. Parker was a founding member and initially the only woman in New York City’s legendary Algonquin Round Table, a group of renowned columnists, playwrights and satirists in the 1920s. The play traces her meteoric writing career and her turbulent personal life. We see her become established as the sharp-tongued drama critic for Vanity Fair, and we witness the deterioration of her marriage.

NKU senior Victoria Hawley played the central role in a production directed by veteran guest director Ed Cohen. Crowley’s play, which uses Parker as its narrator as well as its central character, digs deep, providing a portrait of a vulnerable woman who lived her life in the spotlight and never found real happiness.
 
Hawley portrays her from her first confident days at Vanity Fair, through her friendships and relationships with New York’s literary elite. She was known as flippant and brittle, a source of quick-witted, often obscene remarks, and Hawley handles them well — while also conveying Parker’s frustration and vulnerability.

NKU junior Hunter Henrickson rises to the challenge of playing Parker’s husband Eddie. He went off to World War I in France almost immediately after their marriage, returning after two brutal years in the field nursing service, shell-shocked and seriously dependent. Her intervening success became a source of friction and embarrassment between them. Henrickson showed Eddie’s initial, inebriated charm and did a fine job of playing the broken man he became. The show’s other fine performance came from junior Connor Moulton as Parker’s brash writing friend Robert Benchley, a steady source of insouciant foolishness.”

Review #1 of “Encore, Encore”

“Encore, Encore” received a great review the other day from the independent student newspaper of Northern Kentucky University – “The Northerner.”

You can read the full review here – but here are some highlights:

“Dorothy Parker’s quick wit, silver tongue, and harsh criticism made her one of the greatest voices of the early 20th century. Behind her rough exterior, however, lied a tragic, tormented soul that wanted nothing more but to leave behind her home life. This is “Encore, Encore.”

….

Playwright Colin Speer Crowley does a wonderful job of guiding the audience through Parker’s life, touching on the many facets of early 20th century life. It was America’s first taste of war on a global scale, and the toll that combat took on the brave men in The Great War was not brushed aside in “Encore, Encore.”

….

Tonally, “Encore, Encore” goes back and forth, but it never feels confused or rushed. Dorothy is always quick to make a clever retort or double entendre, even in the most dire of situations. There was always an ever-present feeling that beneath the humor, charm, and wit, there were dark feelings and emotions right behind it – as if the terrible situations Dorothy faced had to be masked by her critical persona.

….

The overall plot has a tendency to hop around from time period to time period. At times, it confused me when a certain sequence would occur in the timeline of the entire play, but by the end all of the plot points were honed in and made perfect sense. Characters would cross paths in different periods, making emotional impacts later in the play hit even harder.

….

“Encore, Encore” feels like a great start to NKU’s Y.E.S. Festival, offering both the hilarious and harrowing escapades of one Dorothy Parker.”

Great opening show!

My sincere congratulations to the cast and crew of “Encore, Encore” for the wonderful opening night performance of my play! “Encore, Encore” opened the Y.E.S. Festival of New Plays after a great reception dinner hosted by the university.

A special thanks to:

Sandra Forman, theater professor and festival chairwoman, for her kind generosity and for so expertly organizing this very special festival.

Ed Cohen, superb Cincinnati director, who gave life to the play like no other and who squeezed an unknown amount of artistry out of it.

Also Josh Newman (costume designer), Chris Carter (lighting designer), Kevin Havlin (sound designer), and stage manager Amanda Miller.

…and, of course, I must give a special shout-out to a WONDERFUL cast who positively charmed the audience and really made the play shine.

  • Dorothy Parker…………………..Victoria Hawley
  • Eddie Parker…………………..Hunter Henrickson
  • Robert Benchley…………………Connor Moulton
  • Robert Sherwood……………..Andrew Wiemann
  • Frank Crowninshield…………….Chandler Taylor
  • Alexander Woollcott (etc.)…..Melissa Cathcart
  • Charles MacArthur (etc.)……………Andy Burns

Break a leg, everyone – four more performances to go!

To Kentucky I go

I arrived in Kentucky today to see the opening of my play “Encore, Encore” at the Y.E.S. Festival of New Plays. I will be attending the final dress rehearsal of the play tonight in preparation for the big day tomorrow. I will also be teaching a class tomorrow at Northern Kentucky University entitled “Writing Historical Drama – From Concept to Conclusion.”

Local critic Jackie Demaline has written a great article about the Y.E.S. Festival, including a spot on “Encore, Encore”- which you can read here!

Many thanks to Northern Kentucky University for this truly wonderful opportunity and experience!

Dorothy Parker

YES Festival premieres this week

The Y.E.S. Festival at Northern Kentucky University is premiering later this week and I am very excited to be able to attend. My show “Encore, Encore” is opening the festival on Thursday, April 16th.

NKU FestivalLocal theater critic Jackie Demaline has mentioned my play as a show not to be missed in the greater Cincinnati area.

Also check out this nifty piece about the upcoming festival week from Cincinnati.com contributor David Wyman.

Great visit at NKU!

I had the tremendous pleasure of visiting the Department of Theatre and Dance at Northern Kentucky University over the past four days and meeting the excellent cast that will be performing in “Encore, Encore” in the Y.E.S. Festival. Festival Coordinator Sandra Forman was most kind in showing me around the campus and making me feel welcome. The visit allowed me to attend three rehearsals by the cast as they prepare for the big April 16th premiere. I also enjoyed meeting Ed Cohen, the show’s director, and his wife Dee Anne Bryll, another respected director.

A little more about Ed: “Mr. Cohen … has worked for the past 25 years as a director in live theatre throughout the region. Ed also teaches acting at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music’s Preparatory Department as part of their High School Musical Theatre Intensive program. He and (his wife) Dee Anne have been recognized by The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Acclaim program and ACT-Cincinnati for ongoing contributions to theatre in the Cincinnati area.”

Mikki Schaffner Photography did a great job taking publicity photos the other day of the cast from “Encore, Encore.” Below you will find Victoria Hawley and Hunter Henrickson (both excellent) playing the characters of Dorothy Parker and her husband Eddie.

EE Rehearsal

Great article about Y.E.S. Festival

The Northern Kentucky Tribune has published a great article about the upcoming Y.E.S. Festival at Northern Kentucky University. The article was written by Rick Pender.

You can read a full text of the article here!

Some sample snippets are below.

*******************

“Something theatrical has happened at Northern Kentucky University every two years since 1981, and it’s unique to the Highland Heights campus. It’s the biennial Year End Series (Y.E.S.) Festival, back for its 17th iteration between April 16 and 26. Sandra Forman, the NKU theater professor, who has overseen at least 10 festivals, says she knows of no other university that regularly undertakes a festival on this scale.”

….

“For the 2015 festival Forman and her colleagues read 431 plays. Each theater professor reads and evaluates scripts, a process that narrows the number to approximately 40. Then they’re passed around and rated; a high score evoking another high score moves that script up the list. By the fall prior to the festival, the number has been reduced to a dozen or so plays. That’s when the three directors who have been engaged to stage the shows are asked to read them and indicate their interest.”

“For 2015, Forman says the three shows are “fun plays, not so much serious drama.” Terry Powell’s It’s a Grand Night for Murder, a spoof of murder mysteries, kicks off the festival on Thursday evening, April 16. On Friday night, April 17, David L. Williams’ The Divine Visitor, a Restoration comedy with a sci-fi overlay will debut. The third show, Colin Speers Crowley’s Encore, Encore, a play about legendary wit and caustic critic Dorothy Parker, premieres on Saturday evening, April. 18.”

“Ed Cohen, a veteran community theater director who regularly stages shows for NKU, is handling Encore.

“I thought this was the best play that I read, so I was glad to get the assignment,” he says. “The students didn’t really know much about Dorothy Parker, but she is an interesting person they can relate to — the first important female theater critic. It’s a story about her failed marriage to a man who went off to World War I and came back a different person.”

“The show is highly theatrical,” Cohen adds, “a memory play that jumps around in time to portray this woman who is witty and smart, but not really a nice person at all.”

Victoria Hawley, a senior theater major from Cloverport in Western Kentucky, is playing Parker. “She’s chock full of quips,” Hawley says, “but I’m trying to discover more of her heart.” She said she’s excited by the opportunity to create a role in a new play. “Not many people my age get to do this. I’m a fan of new works — you have to start from scratch and work your way up.”