ALT's latest comedy promises 'over-the-top' theater people with huge egos, foul mouths and lines of coke
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By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
As a ragingly narcissistic, foul-mouthed bad boy of the theater, Jason Crespin is not modeling the behavior he hopes to see in his young charges at Amarillo Little Theatre Academy.
And he loves it.
Crespin plays completely against type in ALT's It's Only a Play, a Terrence McNally comedy opening this week on the ALT Adventure Space, 2751 Civic Circle. Performances are set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Feb. 16; 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Feb. 17 and 18; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday and Feb. 19; ticket prices vary.
In the comedy — originally written in 1978 as Broadway, Broadway and revised several times since, most recently for a 2014 Broadway run — the creators, cast and financial backers of a new Broadway play, The Golden Egg, are impatiently waiting for reviews to roll in at an opening-night party.
"It's got so much theater-related humor that it's going to be funnier to theater people than it is to laymen, but that shouldn't discourage laymen," director Allen Shankles said. "There's plenty of comedy in it."
Like in Crespin's character, a British wunderkind director who makes his entrance with a profanity-laced diatribe against the "fake" show-biz types he's surrounded by. Decked out in a midnight-blue, floor-length jacket and enough eye makeup to make a drag queen give him the side-eye, Crespin makes an explosive entrance that should have audiences rolling.
"This character does not have the G-rated vocabulary that I'm used to," Crespin said, chuckling. "It's been fun to say some adult words. ... But this is a play that my (academy students) can't come to."
He's not the only one acting up in the play. Jo Smith plays an aging actress who, after an arrest and probation sentence send her fleeing back to Broadway, keeps her energy up by doing copious amounts of drugs. Richie Garza plays a television actor and best friend of the Egg playwright who's positively gleeful when negative reviews start coming in. Justin Loe stars as the nervous playwright making his Broadway debut, and Jacqueline Llewellyn plays his wealthy benefactor, producer and hostess of the party from hell.
"It's more literary than a slamming-door farce," Shankles said. "They're a group of narcissists — over-the-top people with huge egos.
"Ultimately, they don't care about anyone other than themselves."
Garza said he can't wait for audiences to see the show.
"It's theater humor," he said. "These jokes are going to hit so hard that we'll have to wait for the laughter to die down."