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No Will, A
On The Way
By Rebecca Nance
ne cold, late February evening, in a studio on the outskirts of Times Square, eight actors commence theirrehearsal of Where There’s No Will, a new farce-comedy and world premier play by Leon Kaye, scheduled to
begin its limited engagement on March 22nd at the Medicine Show Theatre. In this well-suited ensemble, each
actor performs with unmistakable confidence. They ad-lib with vaudevillian polish, digging into their characters
and challenging fellow cast members to respond in-kind and to up the ante. From the sidelines, director Dan
Conrad grins widely, laughing raucously along while his actors continue hashing out Will’s first act.
A refreshingly pure instance of farce-comedy, Kaye’s Where There’s No Will embodies all the aspects of this
genre that grew out of American vaudeville and hearkens even further back to the British operetta. Will’s sharp,
witty dialogue flies at lightning speed. The members of its ensemble cast enter and exit faster than they can
keep track of one another. Expert timing amidst utter chaos facilitates absurd misunderstandings, reveals
startling plot-twists and ultimately resolves in a thoroughly unpredictable state of affairs.Where There’s No Will begins in a well-to-do Albany home, circa 1930. A doddering Doc Morris (Michael Jabin)
consoles Emma (Kathryn Fucci) as she bemoans the recent death of her elderly mother. Soon, Emma’s boorish
husband Hal (Paul White) and the suave family lawyer/undertaker Jacobs (Greg Vorob) come to the startling
revelation that Emma’s late mother failed to sign her Last Will and Testament, leaving her considerable estate up
for grabs. As chaos ensues we meet Emma’s tough-as-nails Aunt Liz (Eileen Karlson), the nefarious neighbor
Nick (Florenciani) and Dom (Roland Uruci), a mobster hoping to make the “big time”. Every farce needs an
innocent bystander and so enters The Plumber (David Thomas Crowe). Everyone has a unique plan for the
fortune’s future, but as the best-laid plans unravel, all are left clamoring in this laugh-a-line, family-friendly
comedy.Where There’s No Will has transitioned considerably from its inception as a staged reading (at a seniors’ center,
no less) into the Off-Off Broadway production opening in March. Unable to keep the original cast intact for a
variety of reasons, the producers sought new faces to fill in the blanks. In spite of these changes, the sentiment
regarding the cast’s present incarnation remains positive. Vorob, who also played Jacobs in the staged reading,
appreciates the rarity that his present cast mates exhibit such “equal respect for each other as artists and aspeople.” In fact, many involved in Will share history either as friends or professional acquaintances, allowing the
off-stage drama so often characteristic of the theatre to fall by the wayside, creating a far more productive
The actors’ cheerful grins and friendly banter during rehearsal testify to their collective enthusiasm. A demandingensemble piece, Where There’s No Will relies on cultivating this very positive dynamic. Kaye’s spitfire
dialogue and action, Fucci explains, require extremely focused, active listening among the actors. For Crowe,
this communication is like surfing, connecting individual action with the ensemble’s emotional ebb and flow.
More fundamentally, Uruci stresses the value of trust, noting, “If I have to worry about saving someone else’s
lines, I’m not really going to be able to do my own job”. It’s clear from watching Will’s cast rehearse, that these
actors trust each other completely.
From the ensemble members' varied backgrounds, each actorcontributes his or her own unique element to Where There’s No Will.
Fucci, who was part of the reading, has worked most recently in film.
For her, however, only live theatre offers “that fire” of creating an
immediate bond with one’s audience and fellow actors. Vorob has
considerable directing experience, while both Uruci and Florenciani hail
from the world of sketch comedy and improvisation, their credentials
lending a vital spontaneity to the performance. Florenciani, who lives
full-time in LA, also tends a burgeoning music career. With respective
backgrounds in operetta and musical theatre, White and Crowe are
well-accustomed to the over-the-top brand of physical acting that farce
comedy entails. White (whose mother, Eileen Karlson, plays Aunt Liz)
also works as a stage combat choreographer.When coaching Will’s ensemble, director Conrad calls upon his own
acting experience, encouraging thoughtful, detailed character development.
Conrad’s approach is mostly hands-off, however, allowing his
actors to approach this development in their own way. For each role he
plays, Roland Uruci buys a watch, “a man’s only real accessory,” which
provides a tangible basis for his character. Dom’s watch: a heavy, metal
face supported by a brown leather band. Florenciani, on the other
hand, knew his character from the time he first read the script, and
found his energetic portrayal of Nick in close friend and fellow NewYork-born actor Johnny Tammaro, of the Off-Broadway hit Tony n’ Tina’sWedding (and like his character Nick, Florenciani is from the Bronx). To
cultivate The Plumber’s befuddled, Swedish dialogue, Crowe studied
a variety of sources before re-typing his entire role phonetically in his script, a measure that’s earned some
good-natured teasing from his cast mates. White, who studies both the play’s time period as well as those
around him when creating a role, feels his character come most completely alive once he’s in costume and the
transformation is complete.The Random Coconuts production of Where There’s No Will marks two exciting initiations. Not only is this the
first full-scale production for one of Leon Kaye’s plays, it’s also Conrad’s NYC directorial debut. In spite of these
potentially daunting circumstances, Conrad remains confident. His staging and set design will truly take Kaye’s
work over-the-top, utilizing a vibrant, comic book-esque presentation. Brightly colored costumes and very big,
very physical acting will help realize Conrad’s vision; think Dick Tracy meets Noises Off. Florenciani acknowledges
the serendipitous coming together of all the production’s elements and predicts, as opening night nears, and Willcontinues to grow, “Everybody’s going to surprise each other.” Where There’s No Will’s director and performers
are definitely on their way to building this little-show-that-could into a delightful production that promises good,
clean, uproarious fun for audience members of all ages.
Left to right: Kathryn Fucci, Paul White, Florenciani and Greg Vorob ofWhere There’s No Will, which opens March 22 at the Medicine Show Theatre
in New York.
“Everybody’s going to surprise each other,”
says Florenciani (above), who based the
portrayal of his character Nick on fellow
actor and friend Johnny Tammaro.
Where There’s No Will, a new comedy by Leon Kaye. Directed by Dan Conrad. With Paul White, Kathryn Fucci, Florenciani, Greg Vorob, Eileen Karlson, Michael
Jabin, Roland Uruci and David Thomas Crowe. Opens March 22, 2005 at the Medicine Show Theatre, 549 West 52nd Street (Near 10th Avenue) [Near A,C,E trains].
Limited Run. Tickets: $25-20 at TheaterMania: http://www.theatermania.com/content/show.cfm/show/118237 or by phone (212)352-3101.
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