by Kim Thomas
(see this week's issue Ace Weekly for the whole story)
Bad Dates (We've All Had 'Em)
“I can't go on anymore bad dates. I would rather be home alone than out with some guy who sells socks on the internet.” Miranda Hobbs, Sex & the City
"And then I realize, in this sort of strange, hallucinatory moment, that the bug guy is looking kind of good, and the things he's saying about bugs are really kind of fascinating and it is then that I realized that maybe it has been too long since I've been on a date."
So confesses a single mother and self-described restaurant idiot-savant in this play by the author of The Butterfly Collection and Spike Heels. Bad Dates is an idiosyncratic journey of self-discovery involving the Romanian mob, a Buddhist rainstorm, a teenage daughter, shoes, and a few very bad dates. Starring Leslie Beatty and directed by Walter May, Bad Dates opens this week at the Downtown Arts Center on March 20 and runs through April 5.
Rick St. Peter, Artistic Director of Actors Guild Lexington believes audiences will marvel at this one-woman show, and explains, “It has been described as Bridget Jones Diary meets Sex & the City. I think most people who spend time in downtown know Leslie, but I bet they don't know about her phenomenal acting career in theatre!”
St. Peter had a chance to watch a run-through recently of the upcoming production of Theresa Rebeck's very funny play, “and was mesmerized. A solo play is an incredibly tricky thing to pull off because so much of it depends on the talent, skill and charisma of the single actor onstage...well, let me tell you, our single actor, the immensely talented Leslie Beatty, is un-freakin’-believable... and in every sense of the word, is giving a singular performance. She has a resume a mile long and the talent to match it and in her hands, the character of Hayley, our storyteller for the evening, comes to vivid life right before your eyes. The performance Leslie gave last Tuesday, in a rehearsal hall with no technical elements involved, using mostly rehearsal props and with zero costume changes, was already close to a fully realized performance. We could charge money to watch her rehearse!”
St. Peter feels fortunate that Beatty took the role because of her impressive talent and approach to her honing craft. “I also found Leslie's performance and the way she attacks Rebeck's dialogue to be reminiscent of Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore on The Gilmore Girls...and Hayley's offstage daughter sounds very much like Rory.”
Veteran Actor Brings Experience to Solo Role
Leslie Beatty is a Lexington native who studied with David Mamet’s Atlantic Theatre Company, is a graduate of The American Repertory Theatre’s Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard and has studied Clown with Jane Nickels and David Shiner. Beatty's impressive resume illustrates her years as a seasoned veteran in major roles in a multitude of local and regional theatre productions.
Beatty admits with “knees a-shakin’” that this is her first one-person show. She admits her biggest challenge in performing Bad Dates is the unknown element of the audience being a character in the play, "and so far I haven't had an audience. So this week as we move into the theatre (the rehearsals have heretofore been held at the Lorillard Lofts), I will be trying to incorporate that other character into what I've been rehearsing for the last six weeks. Comedy is all about timing and though Walter (May, the director) and I can guess where there will/won't be laughs, we cannot predict the overall pacing without the audience. So, this week will be exciting and terrifying at the same time, but I'm looking forward to it!"
Walter May returns to AGL
Walter May (Director) has previously directed several plays at AGL. He has also directed at Washington and Lee University, Virginia Military Institute and the University of Kentucky. As an actor, he last appeared at AGL in 2008 as David O. Selznick in Moonlight and Magnolias. May appeared in numerous AGL productions, including All in the Timing (Al, Philip Glass and Don) for which he won a Smitty. He has performed at Kentucky Repertory Theater and in both Lexington and Cincinnati Shakespeare Festivals. He wrote A Measure of Respect, which was produced by AGL in 1987. He received his training at Washington and Lee University, University of Kentucky and the HB Studio in New York.May says he has spent more time acting than directing over the years, "but have always felt comfortable and energized in the director’s chair. Like Leslie, I am a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union that represents actors and stage managers in American theater. She and I first worked together in 1990 when we appeared in the AGL production of Lloyd’s Prayer. I’ve been a fan of hers ever since I saw her in Breaking the Code at AGL twenty years ago. I didn’t know her at the time, but I found my attention fixed on her every time she entered the stage. She was irresistible."
Why Bad Dates? May explains, “It’s a heck of an entertaining script, funny, authentic, fast-moving. It’s a joy ride with an honest heart and an element of danger. Then there’s the opportunity to work with Leslie Beatty. Any director with any sense would jump at that chance.”
It’s All About the Shoes and Clothes
May advises that the most difficult aspect of the production contained two ingredients: shoes and clothes. "Shoes and clothes, shoes and clothes, shoes and clothes. Haley Walker, the character that Leslie plays, spends a lot of time trying to figure out how to present herself after years out of the dating circuit, so she has to try on a lot of clothes. Then there is the sheer size of the job, carrying the entire story by herself. Leslie’s got the chops to do that, but it’s still a load."
May admires the whole arc of the play, and points out that Haley is a single mom who has spent years trying to establish a sense of independence and stability for her daughter and herself. "Now she wants to take a stab at finding some romance in her life before it’s too late. The hazards she encounters and the way she comes to terms with them tell a very funny and very poignant story."
For info, call LexArts Box Office 859.225.0370, visit http://www.tix.com/ Adult $15 Group Rates & Student Rush Tickets AvailableShowtimes: Fri & Sat 8:00pm; Sunday matinee 2pm