Nomads No Longer

Allan Appel PhotoAs a cheesy, loghorrheic magician and his manager, actors George Kulp and Peter Chenot do a lot of heavy drinking in the New Haven Theater Company’s new show at the English Market Building.

Off stage they are drinking the right way, by raising a glass and toasting the first play their scrappy local company is producing in its first-ever permanent home.

Well, permanent at least for the next year.

The good news for theater lovers in town is that for the next 12 months you will no longer have to guess if the NHTC will produce its next Mamet or Wilder or Cariani in a bar, a bank, an office building, or a basement.

The newest production of the company, Drew Gray’s two-hander The Magician, opens for two weekends of shows, March 6 and March 15, in the rear of Robert and Carol Orr’s emporium of stuff from long ago and far away.

A place evoking dreams—to say nothing of endless possibilities for costumes and props—makes a perfect match for a theater company. The Orrs have given the company a one-year lease.

The Orrs provide heat too , said Chenot on a snowy recent night when he and the other thespians were in rehearsal for The Magician.

Chenot plays Ronnie, the know-it-all manager who is locked in a battle of wits, self-esteem destruction, and who-can-say-it-faster-and-dirtier, and occasionally in a more poetic argot, with Mark, who appears to be his one and only client: an exhausted on the edge of total burnout magician played by Kulp.

The pair drink, clink, throw bottle caps, get misogynistic, and invite the audience into the disgusting man-cave of their dependent lives, until something happens to alter their world. Enough said.

Gray, who not only wrote the play but is designing and directing his first full play debut, described the work—the elevator pitch version—as “two Mamet characters stuck in a play by Beckett.”

As he demonstrated one of the props to be used in the play, courtesy of the new digs, Gray ([pictured) said that his play is “much too cheesy for the English Market.”

Click here for a previous article on the genesis of the play.

After producing two recent shows there—Our Town and Almost Maine—the heretofore traveling players, who have had at least five rental venues since the founding in 2005, signed a one-year lease with the Orrs last week.

It’s a magical fit, and anything you as an audience member see in the show and crave, you can buy it after the applause and curtain.


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