The Lenny Schwartz Legacy: Celebrating the Big 4-0 at Arctic

 

It’s always a treat to head to The Arctic Playhouse, and it is especially nice when the show on the stage is a Daydream Theatre production, the resident theater of The Arctic Playhouse. Lenny Schwartz celebrated his 30th birthday with a production of an original play he wrote, so it was only fitting that he celebrate his 40th with the third installment of Barry Weintraub’s story with the Barry Weintraub Legacy. The play seems to be a perfect glimpse into Schwartz’s mind, as he has fully dismantled the fourth wall for this. (One of the actors goes as far as calling Schwartz’s plays “theatrical abortions.”)  He also does something I didn’t think could be done onstage, and executes a perfect ’80s montage. The evening is a fun romp through what can only be described as a sci-fi comic book. That description may not be one you have heard before when talking about theater, but the Barry Weintraub Legacy is not like anything you have seen before.

Daydream Theatre has a knack for casting talented people, and this is no exception. A few standouts for me: Elese Morrone plays Shelly, Barry’s wife, and nails the nerdy girl perfectly. Aaron Andrade steals most scenes as Mr. Ace, from his accent to his insistence on announcing whenever he exits. Although it has been teased that this is the last of the Weintraub plays, one can only hope that Schwartz is plotting to bring back Mr. Ace. Jim Kelly clearly could be easily hired as a voice actor, and Anthony Amaral III seemed as if he stepped out of an ’80s flick about nerds.

The Arctic Playhouse is still at their original location, and those of you who have been there know that the stage is not huge. However, Schwartz’s direction having the actors enter and exit in a swift motion seemed to enlarge the stage, and was reminiscent of any classic farce where the actors do the same. The West Warwick School Department had student art hung on the walls of the house, which unintentionally adds a nice touch to the evening; between the art and the comic book in the playbill, the entire evening felt as if you stepped into a comic book.

And of course there is the free cookies and cash bar!

This was an important show, because in the reign of 45, when we see news stories that arts funding is at risk, we need to keep creating art. We need to write and sing and act and perform. We need silly ideas and brave ideas and in the face of the larger theaters possibly losing funding, we need the homegrown theaters to continue their work. This is not to say that we need political theater, or that this show in particular is political. Despite a few good one-liners about politics, the show steers clear of it. And that is why it’s needed. In a society where we are inundated on a daily basis through social media, the news and the radio, we need the distractions from politics; Lenny Schwartz  is doing that with Daydream Theatre.

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