Crap (alternate title: "Second Bananas")
by Alan David Perkins
Copyright © 1998
Full-length, three-act comedy.
Randall Gardner is about to begin his first day, and maybe his last day,
as the assistant director on a new Broadway show. Little does he know that
the show is perhaps the worst thing to ever grace a stage, and he is just
the next in a long line of assistant directors. The actors are so desperate
for the show to close before it opens that they've taken to sabotage.
Meanwhile the stagehands can't get anything to work, the director makes no
sense whatsoever and the leading man is making barnyard noises. But is it
enough to close the show?
ABNER CLARK - Actor. Male, mid 30's. Abner is a very gifted and
highly-trained character actor. Unfortunately, he has learned that it
takes more to make it on Broadway. Therefore, he has reinvented
himself and has learned to act off-stage as carefully as he acts
on-stage. Now, off-stage he's a dimwitted bumpkin, which now gives him
attention since his on-stage performance is such a contrast.
LEONARD SEDGWICK - Assistant Associate Producer. Male, mid-30's.
Obsequious and manic. Leonard wields very little power, but that's enough to
make him feel above everyone else. He's not a bad person, and he's
definitely on the right side. But he is a bit of a weasel and does
tend to look out for himself more than others.
CARLA MAXWELL - Actress. Female, mid-30's to mid-40's. Bitter,
loud, sharp and clever. Carla has struggled along for a long time to get a
role of any substance. Having paid her dues in tiny roles and doing
stand-up, she scored her big break ... doing a tampon commercial, something
she'll NEVER be able to live down. Still, she's cunning, conniving and very
much the ring-leader.
RANDALL GARDNER - Assistant Director. Male, late-20's. Randall is
a bit overwhelmed by this golden opportunity to AD a Broadway show. His most
saving grace is his heart and patience. He knows that someone of his
youth and lack of experience would never be able to advance so quickly, and
when he finds out WHY he has advanced so quickly, he now has to face the
REX ROGERS - Leading Man. Mid- to late-40's. Arrogant,
pretentious, clueless soap star. Errol Flynn wannabe. Rex has gotten very
far with his good looks and suave personality. Talent and acting
ability have never been necessary. He speaks and acts with effected
mannerisms because he genuinely believes he's wonderful in every way.
Rex isn't a bad person - he's actually very kind and treats the people
around him well ... each time he meets them, as he can barely remember them
from moment to moment.
LAINE MENCKEN - Ingénue-in-training. Female, late-20's. Naive,
sweet. Laine is trying to have as much fun with her big break, but follows
her heart too much. She undoubtedly lucked her way into the role, as
her acting abilities are marginal. But she fits the role enough to be
part of the cast. It's also her lack of experience that prevents her
from seeing the disaster in front of her.
KEN PRITCHETT - Actor. Male, mid- to late-40's. The old pro. Ken
worked his way up slowly as second, third and fourth banana and has well
paid his dues for this position. He has been in more Broadway shows
than the entire cast combined, though he's only had about a dozen lines ...
combined. Directors and Producers everywhere love to work with Kenny
because he's good-looking, flexible, punctual, learns his line(s) quickly,
hits his mark each time and gives no trouble. Unfortunately, this has
locked him into being the perennial third and fourth banana as he gives
Directors and Producers nothing to worry about. Earl Grey and Mozart
have helped him feel at home in every dressing room in town.
JOEY BAGGIO - Union Representative. Male, late-30's to late-40's.
Mafia thug-type. Joey is well-cultured and well-read for someone who'd just
as easily break your thumbs as say "hello." But it's
strictly business. Granted, he would normally have someone
"under" him do such mundane tasks as picking up contracts and
checking on union members, but Joey loves the theatre.
IL PAPA - Director. Male, 60's or older. Bigger than life,
flamboyant, incoherent Italian director. Il Papa lost his marbles decades
ago. Having directed old Hollywood movie musicals, he's trusted with a
Broadway show for the first time despite the fact that nobody quite knows
what he's saying at any given time.
LYDIA RUBINO - Production Assistant. Female, mid-30's. Frenetic,
sarcastic, overly efficient and totally burned-out. Don't mess with Lydia.
Ever. Lydia has run bigger and shows and could run this one in her
sleep if she were allowed to. She could also do many other people's
jobs, including Leonard's. She's paying her dues and knows it,
though this time it's gone too far. Why don't they just let her call
SIDNEY COHEN - Rex's Agent. Male, 50's or older. Jewish
borsch-belt type. Kindly but no-nonsense. He's one of the biggest in the
biz. He says if you make it in this business or if you don't.
Next to William Morris, he is The Man as far as artist's representation.
100 - 125 minutes.
The play takes place in the Green Room of a large Broadway theater.
The play is present day and in three acts. Act 2 takes place the
afternoon after the first act, and the third act takes place the next
Parkside Players' production of
This play is a landmark for me. It's been almost three years in the
making, but that's mainly due to having to juggle so many life changes that
I was concerned that I'd never write again. I struggled through the first
two acts over the course of almost three years when all of a sudden my brain
freed itself up and I was able to tie it together quickly and neatly. It
also marks my first three-act play. Okay, so each act isn't terribly long
and therefore, if you REALLY want to, you can perform them without
intermissions (a popular practice these days), but rhythmically it's in
three equal parts.
L-R: (Back) Ray Bonétt, Shana Aborn, Nick DeCesare.
(Front) Vera D'Elisa, John C. Snyder.
I've been mulling over this play for a long time, as well as the subtext.
I mean, what do you do if, through no fault of your own, you've invested
yourself into a losing venture? What do you do if you can't win, and it's
not your fault? I really didn't want write a backstage comedy, but I
couldn't come up with a different scenario and still maintain the stakes.
A piece of this play is actually based on the adventures of a friend of
mine (who will remain nameless). He was one of a seemingly endless string of
assistant directors on a Broadway show that was quite a mess. I don't want
to get into what the problems were, but there were many (a few of them I
reflect in the play). He was eventually fired. I understand at opening night
about a quarter of the audience were people who were fired from the show.
Needless to say, it closed within a week.
CONTACTING THE PLAYWRIGHT:
The entire script of
Crap is available upon request from the playwright. No production of this
play can take place without permission from the playwright.
from Queens Chronicle, February 21, 2002
"Second Bananas" Gets First Show With Parkside Players
by Susan Lin
Once again, the Parkside Players theater company of Forest Hills is
taking a chance by staging an original comedy by a local playwright, rather
than a proven hit of yesteryear. The theater group has debuted only
two original plays during the past 22 years. The first one,
"Don't Touch That Dial," was the first play the company put on
when it opened its doors in 1980. The other one, now running, is
"Second Bananas" by Alan David Perkins of Middle Village.
L-R: Ken Anders, John C.
Snyder, Miriam P. Denu, Vera D'Elisa, Peter Vrankovic, Richard Weyhausen,
Ray Bonétt, Shana Aborn.
That "Second Bananas" is home-grown is apparent in the
characters' asides. "I used to do a little Queens community
theater," says local Mafia boss Joey Baggio, played by Peter Vrankovic.
He later mentions his mother lives in a nice place in Howard Beach.
Originally titled "Crap" by Perkins, "Second Bananas"
centers around a group of actors, producers, directors, and their assistants
who are deeply involved in a major production that they know will be
"crap." Despite the amount of work they have already put
into the play, the actors try to sabotage it from ever opening.
As with most comedies, the underlying message is quite sad. The
analogy to real life is when people who are involved in something where they
are doomed if they stay, doomed if they bail.
"Second Bananas" involves many characters, and because they
play almost equally prominent roles, can be overwhelming at times.
Individually, though, Perkins's wife, Miriam Denu, is very natural in her
part as Lydia, the production assistant. Her no-nonsense attitude
comes through each time she announces "Rehearsal time!" to a group
of unmotivated actors and assistants.
In contrast is Ken Anders as Rex Rogers, the character who is already so
successful he's the only one enjoying being part of the doomed
production. Just as Rex's name is above the title of the play on the
marquee, the character is above the nitty-gritty and the worry that consumes
his fellow thespians. At almost 6-foot-5, about a head higher than
everyone else, Anders is especially convincing in the role.
Vrankovic is delightful as Joey Baggio. The actor is expertly both
funny and menacing at the same time. In the storyline of "Second
Bananas," the production crew has yet to make an important special
effect work. Although more difficult to pull off than his humorous
scenes, Vrankovic realistically bellows at the unseen stage crew,
threatening them with violence. Then, for the first time, the special
effect takes off, and the play is funny again.
The medley of characters form a web that thickens until the final third
act of the play, where the audience finds out if the crew has been
successful in its sabotage or not. The only flaw in the play is that
it ends too abruptly.
from Queens Ledger, March 21, 2002
"Second Bananas" - A Comedy By a Talented Queens Playwright
by Judi Willing
Second Bananas played to a full house on Saturday March 1. Excellent
acting, and an excellent script kept the audience entertained and laughing.
The playwright, Alan David Perkins, 39, lives in Middle Village. He
has written 15 full length plays, some one acts, and musicals. His
plays have won prizes, and have been performed in several countries.
Mr. Perkins has been involved with the Parkside Players for 8 years, but the
company has not produced his work because it is so risky to put on the work
of a new playwright. Hopefully this will change, because Mr. Perkins
brings considerable skill and talent to his work. Mr. Perkins is
wonderfully proficient at defining each of his characters by the patters of
their speech. He can 'do' to perfection, the Jewish guy, the Italian
Italian, the American Italian, the Brit, the soft spoken lesbian, the white
gay guy, and the sexy babe. He can write their speech with the correct
cadences, rhythms and inflexions. Put these individuals together, and
the results are loaded with humor; they crunch together like the unexpected
ingredients of a fashionable salad in a trendy restaurant.
L-R: Vera D'Elisa, Ray
Bonétt, Shana Aborn.
Using many ethnic variations of speech so well, Mr. Perkins is in effect,
encapsulating the essence of the people of New York City in the first part
of the twenty first century, unlike the way in which Mark Twain caught the
voice of the black American in the 20th. Mr. Perkins is admirably
placed to acquire such first hand knowledge - he lives in Queens, the
ethnically 'cultural capital of New York'.
The set of Second Bananas was the green room of a Broadway show,
with a coffee machine, cups, doughnuts and bottled water. On a
bulletin board, the essential Rehearsal Schedule was prominently pinned at
eye level, amongst details of a missing cat and statutory employee
information. A pay phone, and a few tables and chairs completed the
decor. The set stayed the same throughout the 90-minute performance,
but actors were constantly coming and going in a kaleidoscope stream.
The main action of the play was not actually on the set, but elsewhere-
presumably on the adjoining stage. The actors merely passed through
the green room - pausing to collect themselves before being called to
rehearsal. In the few moments that each actor had between arriving and
leaving, they were able to tell the audience what was going on, and advance
to plot to their advantage. This was a very clever arrangement that
provided a reason for actors to come and go quickly, ensuring a very fast
pace, and many rapid changes. The plain set as a backdrop was
ideal. The plot involved the entire cast who individually and
collectively wanted to put an end to their Broadway play; it was not going
to be a success, and would probably end their careers. Needless to
say, nothing went according to plan.
The leading actor of the play, within a play, was Rex Rogers (Ken
Anders). He was tall, imposing, had a British accent, and came with
the studied gravity of Sir Lawrence Olivier. Apparently in the
advertising promotions, his name was 'over the title of the play' - a fact
that was constantly referred to by the other members of the cast, becoming
funnier with each mention. The, 'over the title' was always
accompanied by a sweep of the arm heavenward. Each actor that referred
to it felt the need to illustrate it (a piece of direction added to the
fun). Rex's penchant for taking Americanisms at face value was a
source of mirth. To the colloquial 'Get-out-of-town', he replied
pleasantly 'But I like it here, why should I leave.'
When the super confident, brash, Mafia-affiliated Joey Baggio (Peter
Walter Vrankovic) arrives, the play really takes off. Mr. Vrankovic
plays Joey as a stereotypical Italian American, and gets every ounce of fun
from Mr. Perkins' script. The audience roared with approval when the
macho Joey, knowing full well that this was a public release for a selected
audience only, shyly announced that he had 'done some community theatre in
Queens'. It was the incongruity that made it the funnier. Mr.
Vrankovic added vast amounts of authentic Italian body language to his
performance for extra measure, and the audience loved it. Scenes with
the gracious, pretentious Rex, and the
lets-see-what-you've-got-don't-mess-me-about, Joey, were comedy at its best.
A nice feature of this play was that all eleven members of the cast had
an almost equal time on stage, and contributed equally to the plot
development - very contemporary. The lack of a 'star' makes
Bananas ideal for community theatre; the responsibility for a good show
is more equally shared, and no single person gleans all the attention.
The downside of such a construction is that one weak actor could effectively
spoil the show, but this did not happen with the Parkside Players.
Miriam Denu as the production assistant yelled at actors to get out of the
green room: 'Come on lets go- hup-to, hup-to. Let's get out of
here', whilst adding 'Let's get one thing straight, right up front. I
don't have a sense of humor'. Ed Ferruzza was Rex's Jewish agent who
stepped in to defend his client's interest - or was it his own 20% that was
on the line? Vera D'Elisa was the sexy babe with lots of red lipstick
and a fabulous smile. Bernard Bosio was the absolutely impossible
Italian director blowing very hot (boiling) and very cold (freezing) without
John Snyder was his unfortunate assistant, new to the job who tried his
very best to make sense of it all - such a decent type. Richard
Weyhausen as the executive producer, built his character around this
expressive fingers, agile feet and an obsession with this tie. Ray
Bonétt and Nick De Cesare were convincing second bananas. Shana Aborn
did some excellent silent miming, and her wicked laugh at the end of the
first act, had us all wired for more, through the intermission. All in
all, the show was a very pleasant evening in the theatre, with actors that
were able to develop their characters fully because of some excellent script
writing, their own talent, and great team work.
Parkside Players - February 16 through March 2, 2002.
presented the World Premiere of
(under the alternate title of Second Bananas). The production
was directed by the author.
The set was designed by John O'Hare. Lighting designed by Glenn Rivano.
Assistant Director/Stage Manager was John O'Hare. The cast was as follows:
ABNER CLARK..................Nick DeCesare
LEONARD SEDGWICK.........Richard Weyhausen
CARLA MAXWELL..................Shana Aborn
RANDALL GARDNER.............John C. Snyder
LYDIA RUBINO................Miriam P. Denu
LAINE MENCKEN.................Vera D'Elisa
REX ROGERS......................Ken Anders
KEN PRITCHETT...................Ray Bonétt
IL PAPA......................Bernard Bosio
JOEY BAGGIO.........Peter Walter Vrankovic
SIDNEY COHEN...................Ed Ferruzza
Click here for bios.
here for photos from the Parkside Players' production.