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Fred Willard opens DEATHTROUPE this weekend, not quite starring me

March 10, 2011

I got a call a few weeks ago from my friend, Frank Minano, Producing Artistic Director of Inland Valley Repertory Theatre (IVRT). “Do you want to do a play with Fred Willard?” he asked.

Other than scheduling problems, I couldn’t find a reason to say no. Alas, there was a scheduling problem. I would have to miss at least one performance. IVRT (of which I am a board member) works closely with Sherry Kinison’s The Grove Theatre in Upland, where DEATHTROUPE would be staged. I got the script, went to rehearsal on a rainy Monday night in Studio City, and met Fred and his wife, Mary, who wrote the play.

 I also met the director, Alan Shearman. I asked if he’d be willing to record my role as an AM radio disc jockey, rather than have me on stage. He thought about it for a day or two and agreed it would solve a couple concerns, including my inability to show up one night.

After rehearsing with a very talented and funny cast, including Rodger Bumpass, son-in-law to Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara and voice of Squidward in Spongebob Squarepants and IVRT fan-favorite Vil Towers, Alan met me at a recording studio. Jeff Gardner, whose one-man show Kill Your Television blew me away at least year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival for its sound design (and Jeff’s silent acting), joined us. He would take our session home on a flash drive and convert it to AM Radio Magic.

I hear it has turned out really well. The show opens Saturday. Hope you can see it.

From the release:

The Grove Theatre is proud to announce the opening of “Deathtroupe”, an original play by Mary Willard, author of “Moonshine”, “Occasional Sin”,  and “Elvis and Juliet”.  “Deathtroupe” is a comedy with blood-curdling screams, a murderer by the name of ‘The Chopper’ running loose, grilled cheese sandwiches, Jell-o, and Captain Morgan. “Deathtroupe” takes place in Cape Ann, Massachusetts at a bed and breakfast, during a blizzard, with dangerous bank robbers on the loose. Deathtroupe stars Fred Willard (Best in Show, Everybody Loves Raymond, WALL-E, over 100 appearances on The Tonight show With Jay Leno). “Deathtroupe” also features a star studded cast which includes Rodger Bumpass, the voice of Squidward Tentacles on the Nickelodeon cartoon, “Spongebob Squarepants,” Steve Julian, morning host on public radio station 89.3 KPCC, and Grove favorites Anne-Johnston Brown, Vil Towers and Howard Wilson. 

Deathtroupe opens Saturday, March 12th, and runs Saturdays at 7:29 pm and Sundays at 2:00 pm through March 27th.  Tickets are $25 and $20 with senior, student and group discounts available. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Box Office at (909) 920-4343, by going to the Box Office or by visiting The Grove’s website at Box Office Hours are 11 am – 4 pm weekdays, 11 am – 2 pm Saturdays except holidays.

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