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Tony Award Winner Alice Ripley to Star in The Pink Unicorn, a new film based on the play by Elise Forier Edie, directed by Amy E. Jones

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Tony Award winner Alice Ripley (Next to Normal) will star in The Pink Unicorn, a new film based on the play by Elise Forier Edie and directed by Amy E. Jones, it was announced today by Just One More Productions. 

Just One More Productions is a producing entity consisting of Colleen Cook (Executive Director of Holmdel Theatre Company, Holmdel, NJ), Liz Flemming (Artistic Director of Out of the Box Theatrics, New York, NY) and Michael Kushner (Executive Producer of the Emmy Award-nominated web series, “Indoor Boys”). Kushner will also serve as Director of Photography.

Alice Ripley originally starred in The Pink Unicorn for Out of the Box Theatrics in its critically acclaimed Off Broadway debut production in 2019 at the Episcopal Actors’ Guild. Ripley again starred in a developmental production of the play at the cell in August 2019, and in the production staged by Holmdel Theatre Company in January 2020. 

Trisha Lee (Ripley) is a Christian widow living in a conservative Texas town. Her life is suddenly upended when her 14-year-old daughter Jolene announces she is “genderqueer” and starting a chapter of the Gay and Straight Alliance at the local high school. Trisha recounts her story about facing a crisis she never saw coming, at a time when transgender people and gender issues weren’t even on her radar.

Edie’s work, originally produced in 2013 by DogTown Theatre in Washington, DC, is a work of fiction, based on real events happening every day around the country, impacting and endangering transgender youth. The Pink Unicorn aims to bring families closer together – especially those who are unsure of how to speak with their children about gender identity, the LGBTQIA+ community and basic human rights.

The project, which will be filmed on a SAG contract, is currently in pre-production, with filming starting May 10. Release date and distribution will be announced at a later date. 

Alice Ripley (Trisha Lee). Original Broadway Cast: Next to Normal (Tony Award, Best Actress in a Musical), Side Show (Tony nomination, Best Actress in a Musical), The Rocky Horror ShowThe Who’s TommySunset BoulevardJames Joyce’s The DeadAmerican PsychoKing David. Off-Broadway: The Pink Unicorn (The Episcopal Actor’s Guild, and The Cell), The Vagina Monologues (Westside Theatre), Civil War Christmas (NYTW), Cather County (Playwright’s Horizons), James Joyce’s The Dead(Playwright’s Horizons), Next to Normal (Second Stage), Five Flights (Rattlestick Theatre). Regional: The Pink Unicorn (Holmdel Theatre Company), Sunset Boulevard (North Shore Music Theatre), Next to Normal (Arena Stage), Clybourne Park (Long Wharf Theatre), Tell Me On A Sunday (Kennedy Center, Helen Hayes nomination), Company (Kennedy Center, Helen Hayes nomination), Shakespeare in Hollywood (Arena Stage, Helen Hayes nomination), The Waves (NYSAF/Vassar). Tour: Les Miserables(Fantine), Next to Normal (Diana Goodman) Film: SUGAR!Isn’t It DeliciousThe AdultererSing AlongMucklandTemptationThe Waves in Quarantine. Television: “30 Rock,” “The Tonight Show with David Letterman,” “Good Morning America,” “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” “The Today Show,” “The View,” “Blue Bloods,” “Royal Pains,” “Hee Haw.”

Photo of Alice Ripley © Michael Kushner   

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

Events

The Olivier Awards Return

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Celebrate the very best in British theatre in a star-studded evening as the Olivier Awards return to the Royal Albert Hall on April 2nd.

Three-time Olivier Award nominee & Primetime Emmy winner, Hannah Waddingham will be hosting the awards for the first time.

The event will feature performances from all of the Best New Musical nominees, including The Band’s Visit, Standing At The Sky’s Edge, Sylvia and Tammy Faye. Also performing will be Oklahoma! and Sister Act, both nominated for the Best Musical Revival award, as well as Disney’s Newsies, which has been nominated for Matt Cole’s choreography.

The multi-Olivier Award winner The Book of Mormon, will be performing to mark its ten-year anniversary in the West End. Additionally, special award winner Arlene Philips will be honored with a tribute from the cast of Grease.

The ceremony will be broadcast live on Magic Radio from 6pm with Ruthie Henshall and Alice Arnold hosting.

The highlights program will also be aired on ITV1 and ITVX at 10:15 pm in the UK and via Official London Theatre’s YouTube channel elsewhere.

And the nominees are:

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Out of Town

The Unpacking of the First Métis Man of Odesa, An Interview

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Punctuate! Theatre is unpacking a love story. A love story about a couple. A love story about Ukraine. And a love story against an unbelievably complicated backdrop. Starting at The Theatre Centre in Toronto, the company is ushering forth the world premiere of First Métis Man of Odesa before it spins itself out on stages across Canada. Spanning continents and set against the backdrop of the COVID pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Métis playwright and Punctuate! Artistic Director, Matthew MacKenzie (Dora Award-winning playwright for Bears, After the Fire, The Particulars) joins forces with his wife, the award-winning Ukrainian actress Mariya Khomutova (Odesa Film Festival Grand Prix – The Golden Duke award-winner NONNATwo People), to tell the story of their COVID courtship and share an intimate perspective on the personal impacts of the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Matthew MacKenzie and Mariya Khomutova.

Drawn from their real-life love story, a story that is ultimately still unfolding to this very day, First Métis Man of Odesa unpacks the journey of Matt and Masha’s love that spans continents where distance and conflicts can’t tame their passionate connection. After meeting on a theatre research trip in Kyiv, a spark is struck, and a romance between a Métis Playwright and a Ukrainian artist is ignited, taking them from the beaches of the Black Sea to the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, within the onset of a global pandemic, the eruption of a brutal war, but also the many joyous moments that this union begets, including marriage and the birth of their son.

During the height of the lockdown in 2021, an initial version of this piece was presented as a radio play at Factory Theatre, written by MacKenzie and directed by Nina Lee Aquino. This March, First Métis Man of Odesa, as directed by Lianna Makuch (Pyretic Productions/Punctuate!’s Barvinok), makes its stage debut, offering a compelling continuation of the initial story told in that first radio play. The couple, Matthew MacKenzie and his wife, Mariya Khomutova, sat down with Frontmezzjunkies and thankfully answered a few questions about their incredible journey from that first love-struck connection to its World Premiere at The Theatre Centre in Toronto.

Tell me, how you decided to embark on telling your own story and what the beginning of this creative process looked like for you two?

Initially, Matt wrote an audio play for Factory Theatre about our romance, then getting married and having their son during the pandemic.  The plan had been to expand the piece for the stage, a plan that took on much urgency after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Both the pandemic and war have a deeply dehumanizing effect, so our hope in telling our love story is to share the human side of these major world events; a human side that headlines and news clips can’t fully capture.

What aspect of your character, or your involvement with/creation of this play resonates the most powerfully inside you?

For both of us, the opportunity to share all the joy, humour, anger, and frustration we’ve experienced in the past few years is a really therapeutic process.  Many of our friends and family only know snippets of what we’ve been through, so the opportunity to tell our story across the country is one we are deeply grateful for.

The phrase “you don’t know what someone is carrying with them” has really hit home over the past couple of years, as we have had to contend with some pretty epic challenges as a couple and as individuals.

Tell me a bit about what it is like to bring your character to the stage? What does mean to you to be telling this story?

We play ourselves in the play, but we very much play versions of ourselves in the play.  We had to mine conflict between us out of a few outbursts, as there haven’t actually been a lot of [conflicts] in our relationship so that we could bring the drama of what we are going through to the fore.

Challenges of playing ourselves have included the fact that [Matt] is not a trained actor, while Mariya is. Mariya though comes from a theatre tradition that was almost entirely focused on the classics, so playing herself in a play based on her life is definitely a new and challenging experience!

Tell me a bit more about your development process? Was there a typical ‘first read’ or was it different, given your own story inspired the work…

We were able to conduct several development workshops over a period of six months.  There was no shortage of content that we could derive from our lives, so the challenge was determining what to keep and what to let fall away. Even after our first read, we cut 15 pages from our rehearsal draft.  Events in our lives and in Ukraine will no doubt continue to necessitate the evolution of our script.

What’s been the most challenging part of this process for you?

For Mariya, it was buying into the idea (that is quite a common one in Canada) that a play about someone’s real life can be art.  Seeing Hailey Gillis’s My Ex-boyfriend Yard Sale, really helped her believe this was possible.

For Matt, it met the challenge of performing for the first time in ten years.  The last time he performed, he made his friends promise they would never let him perform again, but all agreed it didn’t make much sense for anyone else to play him in this piece.

The most rewarding?

Having already performed several shows in Kamloops, the most rewarding part of this process is sharing this story with refugees from Ukraine.  Their responses have been incredible and have really encouraged us to share our story with as many people as possible.

What do you want the audience to get from this play, and from your character?

We want the audience to join us as we relive our sweeping love story, from Odesa to Toronto.  We want the audience to see the human side of the conflict in Ukraine.  And we want the audience to leave the theatre with the hope that love can and will conquer all.

First Métis Man of Odesa is in Toronto for its world premiere run at the Franco Boni Theatre @ The Theatre Centre from March 30 – April 8, 2023 (opening March 31). Following the world premiere in Toronto, First Métis Man of Odesa will appear at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, The Cultch in Vancouver, and the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre in Winnipeg. For information and tickets, please visit theatrecentre.org/event/first-metis-man-of-odesa/

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com
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Music

Ariana DeBose and Bonnie Milligan Debut A Woman Knows

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Academy Award winner Ariana DeBose and Drama Desk nominee and Theatre World Award winner Bonnie Milligan record “A Woman Knows,” the exhilarating 11 o’clock number from the upcoming original musical comedy Female Troubles, a period piece.

Female Troubles is a completely original musical comedy featuring lyrics by Amanda Green (Hands on a Hardbody, Bring It On), music by Curtis Moore (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), and book by Gabrielle Allan and Jennifer Crittenden (“Veep,” “Seinfeld”).In Female Troubles, Elinor Benton finds herself surprisingly and undeniably knocked up — and, since she’s unmarried and this is 19th century England, she has a very big problem. Facing devastating ruin, Elinor and her girlfriends set off on a raucous carriage trip to London seeking the services of Madame Restell, an infamous midwife who advertises cures for women with “female troubles.” Through the lens of the past, this original musical comedy comments on the present, asking the trenchant question, “Can You Believe This Sh*t’s Still Happening in 1810?”“It’s been so timely for a long time, but yes, it is now more timely than ever,” Green tells PEOPLE of the musical. “We like to describe it as Jane Austen meets Bridesmaids, but about women’s reproductive freedoms. What the song says is that whatever choice you make is fine as long as you get to make the choice,” says Green.DeBose and Milligan recorded “A Woman Knows” as friends of the authors. (DeBose made her Broadway debut in Green’s Bring It On). The song marks the culmination of  the rollicking journey of leading lady Elinor Benton and her maid, Dabney, where they face a crucial decision that they must each make for themselves.Producers Aged in Wood (Robyn Goodman, Josh Fiedler and Nicole Kramer), Brian & Dayna Lee (AF Creative Media), and Jay & Cindy Gutterman have been developing the musical for several years. Future production news about Female Troubles will be delivered soon.Sign up here to receive information about the show: https://bit.ly/3ngflAZMusic video credits:Produced and edited by Ethan NobleDirector of Photography – Lianne Richards1st AC – Jerome Salac Associate Producer – Olivia Skvarenina
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