Welcome to the Moon

By John Patrick Shanley

Directed by Jody Reiss

Welcome to the Moon is a collection of six short plays by John Patrick Shanley, the Academy Award-winning author of Moonstruck. Each story is different, set in locations all the way from the Wild West to Central Park at night. But all of them are about having a dream SO BIG that it makes you brave. It makes you willing to reveal yourself, to risk being ridiculous, in order to make your dream come true.

Walter's dream tells him to drag his friend to the park in the middle of the night. Ronny's dream brings him back from his fourth inept suicide attempt. All of Shanley's characters are deeply earnest, a little silly, and profoundly committed to their vision.

Doing this show has been a longtime dream of director Jody Reiss, and she has gathered a large and remarkably talented cast. It is unusual to see actors, some of whom have had starring roles or performed one-person shows, focus all of their attention on a single 10-minute piece. They do it for the chance to work with Jody, who is highly regarded as an acting teacher here in Madison. They do it because they're drawn to the material and its sincerity. And they do it because actors will always grab an opportunity to fully inhabit a character and make every word matter. In Welcome to the Moon, that's what they get to do.

Produced by Marcy Weiland for Mercury Players

June 4
8 pm
June 5
8 pm
June 6
8 pm
June 11
8 pm
June 12
8 pm
June 13
8 pm
June 18
8 pm
June 19
8 pm
June 20
8 pm

Brave Hearts Theater, 1988 Atwood Ave. (at Winnebago and 2nd St.)

Admission: $8.00. Call 249-9299 for reservations.

INFO: Jody Reiss (director), 271-7787
Marcy Weiland (producer), 251-1886


The Plays

In The Red Coat, two teenagers at a party discover that love can happen in a moment, and afterwards nothing looks the same.

Down and Out tells of a stormy night when Poet loses everything but his soul and Love.

Let Us Go Out into the Starry Night is set in a cafe, where a young woman, looking for a serious conversation, sees a young man plagued by ghosts and monsters.

Out West tells of Sally, who ``lives in a coffin called a room,'' but learns from a real cowboy that ``something of me is altogether free!''

In A Lonely Impulse of Delight, Walter brings his best friend to Central Park in the middle of the night, to meet the love of his life(a mermaid.

The title piece, Welcome to the Moon, is a reunion among friends at a Bronx bar, where sooner or later, everybody confesses their secret love.

The Playwright

John Patrick Shanley was born in 1950 in New York. He grew up in the Bronx, the child of working-class parents. Snatched from juvenile delinquency by a kindly priest, Shanley attended school in New Hampshire and then New York University, where he received a masters in educational theater.

He has worked as a playwright, screenwriter, and director of both theater and film (as well as bartender and housepainter). His screenplays include Five Corners (1988), The January Man (1989), Joe Versus the Volcano, which he also directed (1990), and Alive (1992). Play titles by Mr. Shanley included Welcome to the Moon (produced 1985), the dreamer examines his pillow (produced 1987), and Danny and the Deep Blue Sea (1986). Welcome to the Moon was first produced by the Ensemble Studio Theater, NYC, in the fall of 1982.

In an introduction to the plays, Mr. Shanley writes: ``Who am I? This is a courageous question. As a writer and as a man I am involved in one central struggle(to discover and accept who I am. I believe all fear has its roots in denial. I have, at one time or another, denied everything. Every fact of my specific self. My parents, my Bronx origin, my Americanness, my Irishness, my appetites, my mortality, my need for love and acceptance, my jealousy, my violence, my anger.

``I am not a courageous person by nature. I have simply discovered that, at certain key moments in this life, you must find courage in yourself, in order to move forward and live. It is like a muscle and it must be exercised, first a little, and then more and more. All the really exciting things possible during the course of a lifetime require a little more courage than we currently have. A deep breath and a leap.''

The Director

Jody Reiss is an actress and director who worked professionally in New York for many years. In Madison she most recently appeared in Mercury Players' Temp Slave, the Musical, and has directed Without Pity and several other shows for Tap It Productions.

The Cast

HEATHER BENDER worked with Mercury Players as stage manager for Temp Slave, the Musical, and recently fulfilled a longtime dream to sing in Jesus Christ Superstar, with the Sun Prairie Civic Theatre, as well as a seven-year quest to finally graduate from UW-Madison.

GUNNAR BERGERSON made his acting debut in The Mercury Players Love Fest, and is making his singing debut here.

PETER BRESNICK was last seen in L'Chaim with Tap It. He appeared in Mercury Players' Temp Slave the Musical, and previously wrote and performed music for Broom Street Theater's The Grant and My Fair Arab, and performed with the Merkins.

SHARON BROLIN most recently played Titania in CTM Productions' Midsummer Night's Dream. Other credits include Lily in The Secret Garden and Kate in The Taming of the Shrew. Sharon will play the Mute in Madison Opera's July production of The Fantasticks. This is her first production with Mercury Players.

CATHERINE CAPELLARO is a writer, performer, and political activist. Her performance credits with Mercury Players include Little Slices, Desire, and Temp Slave the Musical, which she also co-wrote. She appeared as Janis Joplin in Broom Street Theater's Piece of My Heart, and appeared all over town with the Merkins.

JODI COHEN worked at the Ark Theatre for six years, and studied with Anna Halprin in California. She performed two solo pieces at Apple Island, ``Taking Up Space'' and ``Miracles and Laundry,'' and is currently writing her next one-woman show, whose working title changes every half hour. This is her Mercury Players debut.

DAVE DURBIN is making his Madison debut with this production. He appeared in Wife Begins at 40 and Alone Together with the Eclectic Theater Co. in Davenport, Iowa.

CATHERINE GREEN is a classically trained soprano, as well as actor. She has appeared as the Page in Madison Opera's Rigoletto last spring, and was a soloist with the Madison Symphony Chorus. Previous work includes Nina in When the War Is Over, co-creator and ensemble member for The Royal Paste and Paper Circus at the New Ehrlich Theater in Boston, and numerous vocal recitals. This is her Mercury Players debut.

RAY OLDERMAN has played a full range of roles, from cab driver to King Lear, in over 100 plays. With Mercury Players, he appeared in Little Slices, The Mercury Players Holiday Pageant, and Escape from Happiness, as well as directing Peggy Rosin in December Skies.

ANDREW ROHN appeared in The Mercury Players Love Fest, and co-wrote Mercury's Temp Slave the Musical with his lovely wife, Catherine Capellaro. At Broom Street Theater, Andrew acted in National Enquirer Returns, The Grant and The Sitcom Family, and composed music for The Grantand My Fair Arab.

ADAM SEEGER appeared in Escape from Happiness for Mercury Players. He has worked with Ark Repertory Theatre, Broom Street Theater, TAP-IT, and The New York Opera Co. He has most recently appeared in Madison, and on tour, in the lead role of TAP-IT's Without Pity.

BRIAN WILD is making his Mercury Players acting debut, though he has created sound effects and music for Mercury's Night of Horror and Love Fest. Brian has acted in twelve plays at Broom Street Theater, most recently in the Miracle Play, composed original music for six, and wrote and directed Tales for a Millennium. He is currently writing How to Succeed in Business Without Really Dying, to open in the fall of 1998.