Lucky Penny mounts a new season for Napa theatergoers | Arts & Theater
“And this for when you’re the stripper?” That’s what Taylor Bartolucci’s mother yelled at her over the shelves of a Napa clothing store as she prepped for her role as runaway stripper Pippi on ‘The Great American’. Trailer Park Musical”, 10 years ago. A decade later, next June, all but one of the actors will reprise their roles in this hysterically funny and wildly successful white trash game. (The actor who plays Norbert even comes from Colorado!)
This show was slated for the pandemic-cursed 2020-2021 season, with an all-new cast. But when Lucky Penny’s artistic director, Bartolucci, and general manager, Barry Martin, began contacting actors, all of the actors 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 shot back, “Have you ever been to a strip club in Florida?” – where the play takes place. “They’re all over 40 and 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 September 9, with “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” by Christopher Durang. Anyone who knows Russian playwright Anton Chekhov will recognize 3 out of 4 names in the titles of Chekhov’s plays. Durang said he took Chekhov’s parts and “put them in a blender”.
Vanya, Sonia and Masha are middle-aged siblings. Vanya and Sonia care for their aging parents in Pennsylvania while Masha is a successful and wealthy actress living in California. In a predictable 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 along her dumb lover Spike, who always seems to get naked. This thwarts Vanya’s repressed homosexuality and leads to some far-fetched situations.
But, Martin said, “the piece has a lot of heart. It’s funny, touching and meaningful, and takes you on a journey. It’s the best play Durang has ever written.
After that, on October 21, just in time for Halloween, Lucky Penny will perform “Sweeney Todd.” This show is particularly significant as they were only a week away from 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”. It will alternate for 3 weekends with the incredibly successful and hilarious “A Napa Valley Christmas Carol” that Broadhurst and Martin wrote together last year.
If Arts resumes the race on Thursday, it’s gone.
In January, Bartolucci directs Disney’s “Descendents,” a play that mixes characters from “Beauty and the Beast,” “101 Dalmatians,” “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Aladdin” and “Maleficent.” The children of the villains of these films, assumed to have done nothing wrong, are invited to attend the preparatory school for the children of the film heroes. The evil parents tell their children to sabotage the school so they can get their magic back, and the children have to decide whether or not to obey their evil parents’ orders.
Next is a musical revue titled “And the World Goes ‘Round” featuring music by John Kander and Fred Ebb, the composers of “Chicago”, “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and “Cabaret”.
Finally, in April, they will present “Silent Sky”, a musical that tells the story of 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 incredible work to produce so many shows. I asked them what kept them coming back.
Bartolucci said, “We might have the worst day, stressed out about the cast or the budget or something, and we’ll come to the theater on a show day, and the audience says, ‘That was so great!’ I watch the number of happy people who walked out of the theater with a smile on their face, or thanking us for doing so, or just crying. It instantly puts me in a better mood.
Then Martin added: “My favorite thing when I’m in my office and the show is running and I hear the audience laughing or clapping. It just fills my soul.
For more information and tickets, go to luckypennynapa.com.