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Lucky Penny mounts new season for Napa theater buffs

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“What about this for when you’re the stripper?” is what Taylor Bartolucci’s mom yelled at her over the racks in a Napa clothing store while she was preparing for her role as Pippi, the stripper on the run in “The Great American Trailer Park Musical,” 10 years ago. A decade later, next June, the entire cast, except one, will reprise their roles in this hysterically funny and wildly successful white-trash romp. (The actor who plays Norbert is even flying in from Colorado!)

This show was scheduled for the pandemic-cursed 2020-21 season, with an entirely new cast. But when Lucky Penny Productions’ artistic director Bartolucci and managing director Barry Martin started reaching out to actors, the whole cast said they would be willing to do the show again. Bartolucci was hesitant, saying, “I’m 40! I’m too old to be a stripper!”

Martin countered, “Have you ever been to a strip club in Florida?” — which is where the play takes place. “They’re all over 40 and they probably have kids!”

“Well, OK,” Bartolucci said, “we’re all too old to play it, but let’s do it anyway and have fun!”

But you won’t have to wait until next summer to see some really interesting theater at Lucky Penny.

The season opens Friday, Sept. 9 with “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” by Christopher Durang. Anyone familiar with the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov will recognize three of the four names in the title from Chekhov’s plays. Durang said that he took Chekhov’s plays and “put them in a blender.”

Vanya, Sonia and Masha are middle-aged siblings. Vanya and Sonia take care of their aging parents in Pennsylvania while Masha is a successful and wealthy actress living in California. In a predictably Chekhovian situation, Vanya and Sonia depend on the money Masha sends them to live. Things get tense (or hilarious) when Masha comes home to visit, bringing her dimwitted lover Spike, who always seems to be taking his clothes off. This antagonizes Vanya’s repressed homosexuality and leads to some farcical situations.

But, Martin said, “the play has a lot of heart. It’s funny, and touching, and meaningful, and takes you on a journey. It’s the best play Durang has ever written.”

After that, on Oct. 21, just in time for Halloween, Lucky Penny will present “Sweeney Todd.” This show is especially meaningful because the theater company was just a week from its opening in 2020 when it was shut down by the pandemic. Ian Elliot, who was excellent as Jimmy Ray Dobbs opposite Bartolucci in “Bright Star,” will play Sweeney.

For Christmas, Martin is collaborating with Rob Broadhurst, on a new musical for children called “Saving Santa.” This will alternate for three weekends with the incredibly successful and hilarious “A Napa Valley Christmas Carol,” which Broadhurst and Martin wrote together last year.

In January, Bartolucci is directing Disney’s “Descendants,” a play that mixes the characters from “Beauty and the Beast,” “101 Dalmatians, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Aladdin” and “Maleficent.” The children of the villains from these movies, assumed to have done nothing wrong, are invited to attend the prep school of the children of the movie’s heroes. The villainous parents tell their children to sabotage the school so they can get their magic back, and the children have to decide whether or not they are going to do their evil parents’ bidding.

After that is a musical review called “And the World Goes ‘Round” featuring the music of John Kander and Fred Ebb, the composers behind “Chicago,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” and “Cabaret.”

Lastly in April they will present “Silent Sky,” a musical that tells the story of Henrietta Swan Leavitt, a woman working at the Harvard Observatory at the turn of the 20th century.

Both Martin and Bartolucci have other jobs. Lucky Penny is a labor of love for them. It takes an incredible amount of work to produce so many shows. I asked them what keeps them coming back.

Bartolucci said, “We could be having the worst day, stressed out over casting or budget or something, and we’ll come to the theater on a show day, and the audience says, ‘That was so great!’ I look at how many happy people have walked out of the theater with a smile on their face, or are thanking us for doing this, or just crying. It instantly puts me in a better mood.”

Then Martin added, “My favorite thing is when I am in my office and the show is running and I hear the audience laugh or applaud. It just fills my soul.”

For more information and tickets, go to luckypennynapa.com.

Netflix is still reeling from its stock plunge last month after losing subscribers for the first time in more than a decade. To turn the narrative back in its favor, experts suggest Netflix should team up with movie theaters.

“What about this for when you’re the stripper?” is what Taylor Bartolucci’s mom yelled at her over the racks in a Napa clothing store while she was preparing for her role as Pippi, the stripper on the run, in “The Great American Trailer Park Musical,” 10 years ago. A decade later, next June, the entire cast, except one, will reprise their roles in this hysterically funny and wildly successful white trash romp. (The actor who plays Norbert is even flying in from Colorado!)

This show was scheduled for the pandemic-cursed 2020-2021 season, with an entirely new cast. But when Lucky Penny’s Artistic Director Bartolucci and Managing Director Barry Martin started reaching out to actors, the whole cast said they would be willing to do the show again. Bartolucci was hesitant, saying, “I’m 40! I’m too old to be a stripper!”

Martin countered, “have you ever been to a strip club in Florida?” - which is where the play takes place. “They’re all over 40 and they probably have kids!”

“Well, okay,” Bartolucci said, “we’re all too old to play it, but let’s do it anyway and have fun!”

But you won’t have to wait until next summer to see some really interesting theater at Lucky Penny.

The season opens on September 9th, with “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” by Christopher Durang. Anyone familiar with the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov will recognize 3 out of 4 names in the title from Chekhov’s plays. Durang said that he took Chekhov’s plays and “put them in a blender.”

Vanya, Sonia and Masha are middle aged siblings. Vanya and Sonia take care of their aging parents in Pennsylvania while Masha is a successful and wealthy actress living in California. In a predictably Chekhovian situation, Vanya and Sonia depend on the money Masha sends them to live. Things get tense (or hilarious) when Masha comes home to visit, bringing her dimwitted lover Spike, who always seems to be taking his clothes off. This antagonizes Vanya’s repressed homosexuality and leads to some farcical situations.

But, Martin said, “the play has a lot of heart. It’s funny, and touching, and meaningful, and takes you on a journey. It’s the best play Durang has ever written.”

After that, on October 21st, just in time for Halloween, Lucky Penny will present “Sweeney Todd.” This show is especially meaningful because they were just a week from its opening in 2020 when it was shut down by the pandemic. Ian Elliot, who was excellent as Jimmy Ray Dobbs opposite Bartolucci in “Bright Star,” will play Sweeney.

For Christmas, Martin is collaborating with Rob Broadhurst, on a new musical for children called, “Saving Santa.” This will alternate for 3 weekends with the incredibly successful and hilarious, “A Napa Valley Christmas Carol” which Broadhurst and Martin wrote together last year.

If Arts is back to running on Thursday, here you go.

In January, Bartolucci is directing Disney’s “Descendents,” a play that mixes the characters from “Beauty and the Beast,” “101 Dalmatians, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Aladdin” and “Maleficent.” The children of the villains from these movies, assumed to have done nothing wrong, are invited to attend the prep school of the children of the movie’s heroes. The villainous parents tell their children to sabotage the school so they can get their magic back, and the children have to decide whether or not they are going to do their evil parents’ bidding.

After that is a musical review called “And the World Goes ‘Round” featuring the music of John Kander and Fred Ebb, the composers behind “Chicago,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” and “Cabaret.”

Lastly in April they will present “Silent Sky,” a musical which tells the story about Henrietta Leavitt, a woman working at the Harvard Observatory at the turn of the 20th century.

Both Martin and Bartolucci have other jobs. Lucky Penny is a labor of love for them. It takes an incredible amount of work to produce so many shows. I asked them what keeps them coming back.

Bartolucci said, “We could be having the worst day, stressed out over casting or budget or something, and we’ll come to the theater on a show day, and the audience says, ‘that was so great!’ I look at how many happy people have walked out of the theater with a smile on their face, or are thanking us for doing this, or just crying. It instantly puts me in a better mood.”

Then Martin added, “my favorite thing when I am in my office and the show is running and I hear the audience laugh or applaud. It just fills my soul.”

For more information and tickets, go to luckypennynapa.com.

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