THEATER FOR THE NEW CITY PRESENTS "SINGIN' IN THE E.R.," WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY RUBY LYNN REYNER
A bad trip to the hospital takes stage with rock music and Theater of the Ridiculous.
WHERE AND WHEN:
September 26 to October 13, 2019
Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave. (at E. 10th Street)
Presented by Theater for the New City
Thursdays through Saturday at 8:00 PM, Sundays at 3:00 PM
$18 general admission, box office (212) 254-1109, www.theaterforthenewcity.net
Running time: 1:10. Critics are invited on or after September 27 (opening date).
Photos are available at: https://photos.app.goo.gl/ZR6a7PtT6g3Hx9E26
NEW YORK, September 11 -- Sometimes a trip to the Emergency Room is so awful that it's just made for Theater of the Ridiculous. That's the premise of "Singin' in the E.R.," the newest musical by Ruby Lynn Reyner, a star of John Vaccarro's Playhouse of the Ridiculous who has been called a female Jerry Lewis. The piece is inspired by ordeals in a New York City hospital suffered by the author and her husband. Now she believes that the only way to deal with such life-changing experiences is through unrestrained, exorbitant laughter. Theater for the New City will present the musical's world premiere run September 26 to October 13, directed by and starring its author.
The play was written from actual experiences, but they are transformed with outrageous satire. The setting is a fictional hospital in the dark world of medical mishaps. A variety of songs, all in rock 'n roll style, are nestled among outrageous scenes with such mind-bending events as arms falling off, crashes with the crash cart and fitting a woman's ass to a sling. One of the songs, "Biggest Balls in Town," was written by Reyner and the late Jackie Curtiss; the others are by Reyner alone.
Theater of the Ridiculous was born when two masterpieces by Ron Tavel ("Kitchenette" and "Life of Juanita Castro"), drafted as scenarios for Andy Warhol's Film Factory, found their way to the stage in 1965 when Warhol suggested that Tavel try them out as theater. This idea led to the birth of a genre to be named Theater of the Ridiculous, whose one-sentence manifesto, penned by Tavel, declared "We have passed beyond the Absurd, our position is totally Ridiculous!" A movement was formed which eventually split into three directions: Ronald Tavel's plays, directed by his brother Harvey, many presented at Theatre of the Lost Continent in the Jane West Hotel; the productions of director John Vaccarro (who staged plays by Tavel, Rosalyn Drexler and Charles Ludlam and called his group Playhouse of the Ridiculous), and The Ridiculous Theatrical Group, which enjoyed a long run of Ludlam's plays in the Sheridan Square Playhouse during the 1990s under the leadership of Everett Quinton. With cross-gender casting and drag queens as actors as two of its signature elements, Theater of the Ridiculous is now seen as the progenitor of glam rock and the Rocky Horror cult.
Ruby Lynn Reyner was a star of Vaccarro's Playhouse of the Ridiculous, appearing in "Conquest of the Universe," "Heaven Grand In Amber Orbit" and "Trilby in La Bohemia" (Drama Desk Award for Acting), among others and starting her well-known band, Ruby and the Rednecks, with musicians she worked with in the Playhouse. She last appeared at TNC in a 2014 revival of "The Life of Juanita Castro," which was presented by TNC along side "Kitchenette." Both were directed by Norman Glick as a tribute to the plays' original director, Harvey Tavel. Reyner played Fidel Castro opposite Agosto Machado as Juanita. In the play, the Castro family (Juanita, Fidel and Raul), together with Che Guevara, post for a family portrait as a director, thoroughly in charge, gives them their lines from a script. The four Cubans parrot his poetic dialogues with humorous errors. There are plenty of hi-jinx among the characters, including vaudeville bits with Fidel's cigar, jokes about paranoia and censorship and lengthy expositions in Spanglish about lust, murder and Fidel's "winsome demagoguery." It was archetypal Theater of the Ridiculous.
Reyner writes, "For my entire 45 year career, TNC has been my home. I always knew that I could put on a show and be mentored and treated fairly by Crystal Field. Thanks to her, I was able to present my beloved downtown community with original, innovative, avant garde, experimental theater. I especially recall one show that I created with my then partner, Gordon Bressack, that TNC presented at their former location (Second Ave. & 10th Street). We wrote & directed "Voidville" and it was a huge hit! Now, 40 + years later, Crystal Field & TNC are making it possible to present my new production. TNC has never let me down. Thanks Crystal!"
The actors are Ruby Lynn Reyner, Sara Cook, Richard Craven, Robin Brenner, Joyce Miller, Mila Levine, Laura Pruden, Xan Aspero, Jon DeLucca, Vilma Hodo and Levi Wise. Set design is by Jimmy Simopoulos. Lighting design is by Alexander Bartenieff. Costume design is by Lola Niasse. The musicians are Susan Lampert (keyboard) and Mary E. Rodriguez (percussion). Stage Manager is Sara Cook and Assistant Stage Manager is Alex Carroll.
ABOUT RUBY LYNN REYNER
Ruby Lynn Reyner is star of stage, screen and Rock & Roll juke joints. An original ingenue of the Playhouse Of The Ridiculous, she earned a Drama Desk Award for "La Bohemia" and an Emmy nomination for the Documentary "Finishing Heaven."
Reyner came to NYC as a teenager. Searching for a niche of her own, she aspired to be like her Hollywood idols Lucille Ball, Betty Hutton and Mae West. In the 1970's, she walked into a rehearsal of "Conquest Of The Universe" at the loft of John Vaccarro and was promptly added to the company of drag queens and Warhol superstars in The Playhouse of the Ridiculous. She quickly rose to a major role in "The Conqueror's Queen," playing opposite Mary Woronov as The Conquerer. She stayed with The Playhouse for many years, starring in "Heaven Grand In Amber Orbit" by Jackie Curtis and "Trilby in La Bohemia," written and directed by John Vaccarro. The production won her a Drama Desk Award for Acting.
Singing in many Playhouse productions, she decided to start a band, Ruby And The Rednecks, with musicians she had collaborated with. Her partner and co-writer was John Madera, with whom she penned many satirical rock songs including some for The Playhouse. She took her act to The Mercer Arts Center, where she opened for The New York Dolls. This scene predated The Glam Rock Movement, which morphed into the original Punk scene at Max's Kansas City and CBGB's.
In the 1980's Ruby collaborated with another Playhouse Alumnus, Gordon Bressack, creating musical shows such as "Voideville" and "Vandals of 1981." "Voideville," produced by Theater For The New City, became an underground sensation. In the early 1990's, she wrote, directed and starred in "Singing In The Island" (another big hit) and "Christmas In The Island."
Reyner's story is told in the Emmy-nominated documentary, "Finishing Heaven," which appeared on HBO in 2008 and is currently available on Netflix. Her most recent film appearance was as The Posse Queen in "Generation Um," directed by Mark Mann and starring Keanu Reeves.
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Critics are invited on or after September 27 (opening date).
Photos are available at: https://photos.app.goo.gl/ZR6a7PtT6g3Hx9E26.