Book by Paul Zindel
Directed by Shay Gines
Produced by Retro Productions
Nominations: Outstanding Revival of a Play, Outstanding Innovative Design: Sara Slagle; Outstanding Actor in a Featured Role: Christopher Borg; Outstanding Set Design: Jack & Rebecca Cunningham
|Photos by Kyle Connolly|
About the Company
It is the mission of Retro Productions to present works of retro theatre. Retro is defined as "involving, relating to, or reminiscent of things past (American Heritage Dictionary)." At Retro Productions, we will tell good theatrical stories which have an historical perspective — with an emphasis on the 20th century — in order to broaden our own understanding of the world we live in. We believe through stories of human lives and struggles, both dramatic and comedic, we can understand social history and culture and how it affects us today.
About the Production
And Miss Reardon Drinks A Little is a dark comedy of the late 1960s that focuses on the lives of three Reardon sisters whose father abandoned the family long ago and whose mother recently passed away. All grown up and working in the New York City public school system, they have come to a crossroads — the youngest sister, who has already barely survived a scandalous incident at school, has suffered a nervous breakdown. When the married sister comes back to the childhood apartment, the two unmarried sisters now share in an effort to commit her sibling to an institution, pushing built up resentment from the last decade to the forefront. Should Anna be committed? Is it in her best interest or is it just easier for Ceil if she doesn’t have to care for her? Is it selfish of Catherine to want to keep her at home? Who is strongest in this fight of wills — and does Catherine really need another cocktail?
2017 IT Awards nominees Sara Slagle, Christopher Borg, and Jack Cunningham, along with Artistic Director and actress Heather Cunningham discuss the joys and challenges of putting this play on
What first attracted you to this project?
Sara: I was actually scared of working on this show but thought the challenge would be helpful in advancing my prop skills forward.
Christopher: I had never heard of the play but when I read it, I was really intrigued by this forgotten gem of a character study. I was also attracted to the role of Bob, which is so far from my normal type: he is a hot tempered, mansplaining "old-school" New York guy who is having trouble keeping up with the changes in 1967.
Jack: Love this play.
Heather: Truthfully I've wanted to do Miss Reardon for over 25 years! I think it's such a wonderfully witty play with incredible and strong roles for women of a certain age — the kind you just don't find that often. It only amazes me that it's not done more often.
What was your favorite part of working on this production?
Sara: Believe it or not, tech was my favorite. Up until that point I just had a (huge) pile of props and glassware and it all came together (and had to be choreographed) on stage during tech — that's where the magic happened.
Christopher: The director and cast were amazing and very supportive. We all learned a lot from each other.
Jack: Back in the early 1970's I designed this show for Ivoryton Playhouse. Doing the set for this production was nostalgic and very fulfilling.
Heather: Shay Gines is an amazing director — I only wish she'd been eligible for award consideration.
What was the most challenging part of working on this production?
Sara: The meat. It's a nightmare prop and had to work out a lot of variables such as actor dietary restrictions, cost, being non-perishable due to theater logistics, etc.
Jack: Designing a realistic set; this play demands realism, and it is difficult to do on a very limited budget and working in off-off Broadway venues.
Heather: The most challenging part of any production of MISS REARDON is the props. It stopped me from doing this play sooner, honestly. It has every nightmare prop scenario you can think of: edible food, onstage food preparation, a gun that fires multiple times, props that are thrown, glassware (vintage at that — the play takes place in the late 1960s), and so much more. I knew I couldn't do this production until I had a kick-ass property designer — and I have one in Sara Slagle — and her nomination couldn't make me prouder. The hardest task I gave her was to create a prop that looked like raw ground beef but was not raw and was not beef and was edible — for an actress who had to eat it on stage who does not eat beef — and she did it!
What did you want the audience to walk away with after watching this production?
Heather: A sense of how far we've come and how far we've still got to go (regarding feminism and the women's movement).
What were the funniest moments of your experience of working on this production?
Sara: Again, the meat. I had no idea that a simple prop such as that would have so much effect on the production. After every performance, it seemed that several audience members were enamored by it, and it was strange for me.
Heather: See my story about meat. ;) We had a few performances where our gun prop could not fire for a variety of reasons. First, it was that we ran out of blanks, and the blanks we'd ordered did not arrive in time. Then the ones we received were making awful sparks — long story short we had about three or four performances where we could not have a live gun fire. The cast came together to rally around a foley effect that worked like magic — I even had a friend in the audience one night who said he had no idea that there were no blanks in the gun! This cast was an incredible bonding experience — all so wonderful, thoughtful and professional.
Christopher: This was one of the smallest theatres I've ever worked in. The dressing area was so small that it could not accommodate the whole cast at the same time so we had to be creative about how we used the space in order to prepare.
Did you learn anything new from your experience of working on this production?
Sara: That I will never, ever, not ever...open another can of spam as long as I live.
What was it like working with this group of artists?
Sara: The entire production team and cast members. It was such a joy to work on this show and everyone had a great time doing it. It's those moments that make working on Indie Theatre worth it. We were truly a team, and I feel that the production spoke loudly that we all worked so hard on polishing the details but also having fun with the material.
Christopher: Retro Productions was extremely professional and really showed their love of theatre artists. We felt valued and well taken care of.
Jack: They were all outstanding professionals.
Heather: How much time do you have? Jack and Beckie Cunningham are some of the most talented set designers you will find In Indie Theatre. Their nomination means so much because Jack says he's retiring after Reardon — that this is his last set. Sara Slagle is amazing — see my story above about meat. Christopher Borg is an incredible actor — he was just so perfect as Bob, and it's incredible because he's nothing like Bob in real life — but he just became Bob in a totally seamless way.
You can follow Retro Productions on Twitter: @RetroProdsNYC