Actors who are not yet members of the “Union – AEA” are considered non-equity. And these actors will do just about anything to get into the union – play cows, go out of town, stay at seedy hotels and pretend to be what they are not all the while smiling.
They have to if they want that all important card. But before they get their big break and their Actors’ Equity Card they spend hours and hours walking dogs, looking for an agent waiting tables and waiting to be auditioned – sometimes waiting for naught.
One such actress is Danielle Trzcinski. She has gotten so fed up with this system that she has written an exciting and savvy new musical about the trails and tribulations of such actors – NON-EQUITY the musical along with Paul D. Mills (at the piano) and they will most probably never have to worry about such problems again.
NON-EQUITY is a delight. A hybrid of FORBIDDEN BROADWAY and a prequel to A CHORUS LINE done in the format of a revue akin to THE UPSTAIRS AT THE DOWNSTAIRS harking back to traditional musical comedy songs that are terrific, satiric and melodic which come with a huge dose of heartfelt sentiment.
Ms. Trzcinski plays Wendy Gibson (her alter-ego) and there is not a bitter bone in her body. Well maybe one or two tiny ones but most of her bones are funny. As she explains through her characters in song what it is like to live the life of a non-equity actor you will be enlightened and thoroughly entertained.
Helping her is her talented company of distinctive non-union characters: Felicity (Lindsay Morgan) Ezra (Keith Antone) Luke (Pierce Cassedy) Charlie (Joe Donnelly) and Beonika (Nichole Turner). All fine, either singly or together as they chart the harmonious territory with the able direction of Christian Amato and choreography by Sam Doblick.
Playing a series of “Monitors” wearing an assortment of wigs and having a lithe body reminiscent of an Ibis, Emily Swan is an absolute dead pan riot. As we see the actors preparing and auditioning experiencing great difficulties along the way carefree Stephen (Dominic Sellers) pops in here and there and immediately is auditioned because he has some connection with the Monitor herself or with someone she is connected with. It is a great running gag.
One stand out song from the excellent score is “Phenomenal” – and it is just that sung by Wendy. We learn that the reason they go through such muck – humiliation and discrimination – is because they love what they do and have to follow their dreams in order to be happy.
The cast seems to be reveling in performing this show which surely will have an extraordinary future. If only they could cut about 15 minutes. I know it’s difficult when all the material is so good, but as they saying goes “leave them wanting more.”
At The Players Theatre 115 MacDougal Street
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