Monday, June 30, 2008

Kate Holland

Catclaw Theatre is very excited to have Kate Holland playing the part of Madame Doucet in Toulouse-inations, opening at the Kentucky Center For The Performing Arts on August 7th. Madame Doucet is the stern, dictatorial overseer of a brothel/bar in Paris where Toulouse-Lautrec sometimes stays for long periods of time.

Kate has most recently been seen in Broadway at Iroquois' production of Willy Wonka, as Grandma Josephina. Other notable roles include Joanna in Stephen Sondheim's Company, Little Sally in Urinetown, Princess Escalus in Romeo and Juliet, and multiple roles in PEACC's production of The Vagina Monologues. She's studied under luminaries such as Dennis Krausnick, Rinda Frye, Jim Hesselman, and Nefertiti Burton, and simply radiates talent.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Catclaw Theatre goes Brick-and-mortar in 2009!

It's our intent that by this time next year, we at Catclaw will have our own autonomous theatre space. This will enable us to put on high-frequency high-quality shows completely under our own control, free from the many random terrestrial variables that can be a pitfall for fledging companies.

Would you like to help us achieve this noble goal, dear reader, and thus help better serve the cause to which we are all so devoted? Please contact us and let's figure out ways we can work together to make this happen. We welcome donations of any size, and will do our best to insure that your money was well spent. (Note: Catclaw is a new company and donations to us are not tax-deductible at this time.)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Forgotten Scripts

It's a pet peeve of mine that so many theatre companies tend to put on the same three dozen plays, over and over, eternally. In fact, it seems like theatre nowadays is split into two camps: one that fetishizes newness for its own sake and puts on "new plays" regardless if they're any good or not; and the other side obsesses on well-worn familiar plays that everyone knows and has already seen multiple times.

But what about the vast untapped ocean of plays that aren't new, but have rarely been seen in years, perhaps decades and even centuries?

I have a copy of the 1953-1960 edition of Wilson's Play Index and it never fails to fascinate me, reading the short and bewildering plot summaries of scores of obscure plays that have probably never been staged in my lifetime. Reading these summaries for prolonged periods of time has a very surreal effect on my consciousness. Here's just a smattering of examples:

He Said He Was Santa by Edith Quick and James O. Fluckey, 1953. "When Santa gets lost in Swiss Alps he is rescued by gnomes who decide to cut off his hair and give him a shave while he is asleep." Three acts.

My Bus is Always Late by James Gibson, 1955. "Old lady waiting for bus in suburban bus station befriends a vagrant and reconciles a young couple." One act.

The Prescott Proposals by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. "Charming American woman finds her work on United Nations committee jeopardized by Communist intrigue." (I was surprised to learn that this play actually opened on Broadway in 1953 for a short run. I bet it's hardly been done since then, though.)

The Pastor's Guiding Hand by Lois M. Sandberg. "One day in the life of New England clergyman in 1872 as he settles quarrels and problems, and is mainstay of his parish". Two acts.

Out of the Mist by Olive Price. "Mysterious space man figures in young man's plot to win back his girlfriend from her absorption in astronomy". Three acts.

Paper Foxhole by James Elward. "In order to speed up return home at end of World War II, American soldiers in non-combat zone of Pacific stage fake attack by Japanese guerillas." (This one was actually staged on live television in 1956, on Kraft Television Theatre, and it was Rance Howard's second-ever role.)

Crispin the Tailor by Lillian Douglas. "A tailor and a magic bird drive away some witches and restore the count's lost daughter". One act.

Many of the fascinating entries don't even include these meager descriptions, and we can only speculate on their content from their enigmatic titles, like N. McCaslin's "The Gift of Corn", and S. Sakanishi's "Plop! Click!".

Okay, well, so maybe these aren't the best examples to prove my point.

But nevertheless, there is a vast treasure trove of plays out there that have been long forgotten and deserve dusting off, waiting for some unthinkably horrible hand to rescue them from the memory hole.

I am that unthinkably horrible hand.

- - JSH

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pianist needed for "Toulouse-inations"

To whom it may concern:

We're looking for a pianist who can accompany cabaret singers for four very simple, bluesy (I-IV-V changes) musical numbers in Catclaw Theatre's "Toulouse-inations" for five performances.

Ability to play "head arrangements" without sheet music is a plus. So is some familiarity with jazz.

Pianist will be compensated. Contact us for details.

The performance schedule is:

Thu, August 7 - 8pm
Fri, August 8 - 8pm
Sat, August 9 - 8pm
Sun August 10 - 2pm

The show is at the Mex Theatre, Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts.


Stage Manager Karissa Singleton at or 593-7948, or:

Artistic Director Jeffrey Scott Holland at or 649-3378.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Be a Catclaw Volunteer!

Now that rehearsals are underway for Toulouse-inations, we're scouting for reliable volunteers to help out in all departments: costumes, props, sets, gophering, transportation, moving, and front-of-house staff.

There's no direct pay involved but we do throw some pretty decent parties. Front-of-house staff volunteers also get to see the play for free.

To help, contact Stage Manager Karissa Singleton at

Monday, June 16, 2008

Voraxical disclaimer and consumer warning

In case we weren't clear previously, what took place at the BBC Taproom as part of the Louisville Theatre Hop was most assuredly not a Voraxium show, despite having originally been billed as such.

Hostess and emcee Jennifer Ray announced at the very outset that due to certain factors that would not be named, there'd been a change of plans and the program for the evening would now instead be "Friends of the Voraxium", and would essentially be a stripped-down minimalist performance art piece in which mostly nothing happens. And oh my goodness, darling, did we ever deliver.

It's come to our attention that some folks were confuzzled by what they saw. Good. Some complained that it "wasn't burlesque". Yes, we know. Voraxica is not burlesque. Voraxica is to the 21st century what burlesque was to the 19th and 20th. But you know, even having said that, some people need to be reminded that if what they saw at the BBC that didn't fit their idea of what "burlesque" is, then they need to re-educate themselves. Here, let us help:

The original true Burlesque shows, way back in the day, like before your parents were born, literally meant a deliberately lame hodgepodge variety show, usually held in a crappy venue, usually consisting of bad songs by inept performers, and jokes from comedians who weren't very funny. Originally it had very little to do with striptease and "hot chicks" dancing for your pleasure. If you walked away from the BBC show disappointed that you didn't see strippers, well, hey, sorry about your luck, Jack.

Does this mean there's no nudity in Voraxium shows? Oh, heck no, we run around stark naked at the drop of a hat when we're feelin' it. But if we show up and decide that our performance for the evening will be to play Scrabble in Aunt Bee hats while you get the privilege of watching us exclaim "triple word score!", then like it or lump it, buster.

To be fair, we certainly understand that the mass-market pop-culture appropriation of the "burlesque" meme has led many to the popular misconception that a burlesque event is supposed to consist of women in faux-retro Betty Page haircuts, either flouncing around with a feather boa and high heels, or looking like a Suicide Girls wanna-be goth dominatrix reject, or both; either doing some sort of weak "trying to be old school" boop-boop-a-doop striptease or trying for modern hipster shock value like cutting into your flesh with huge hooks as a burlesque act, or both.

We ain't really into any of that, honey-bunny. Sorry. I said it before but I guess nobody heard me.

Anyway, it doesn't matter, because I must strenuously repeat, this was not a burlesque show, and it most certainly was not, not, NOT a Voraxium show. (But you may not like an actual Voraxium show either. We're not for everyone. Certainly not for the faint of heart or short of sight.)

At the recent controversial show in question, however, you got skits and snappy repartee with a crossdresser and a peculiar eccentric woman dressed like Uncle Sam's stepdaughter. You got amazing leftist-Ayn Rand-inspired songs from said woman, giving you a rare sneak preview of what one day will be her very successful musical. You got the amazing and mysterious winged dancer Ten - her name is just "Ten", like, nine plus one, dig? - who gave the public far more dancing than they deserved. And most important of all, you got the marathon live art-modeling session with Terry showing much skin and spinning tasty yarn, and for that alone, we rule. Yes we do.

I think Jennifer Ray summed it up best when she declared to the crowd (after her third Altbier): "We're not here for your amusement! You're here for ours!"

Even funnier, the real striptease show took place outside, around the corner, in Nanny Goat Strut, just minutes after almost everyone left, for those in the know. If you weren't there, then you missed it. Those that were are now die-hard fans!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Vanessa Ferguson

Meet Catclaw's new lighting design/tech person for Toulouse-inations, Vanessa Ferguson!

In addition to being a skilled lighting director in shows such as the ST@B Festival of Shorts and David Lindsay-Abaire's Snow Angel, Vanessa is also an actor well respected for her roles in Beyond Therapy, Dead Man Walking, Wild in the Streets and Finnigan Productions' original play My Daddy's Name is Big Oil.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Call for Plays for 2009!

Catclaw is making a call (but not a catcall) for playwrights to submit new plays, especially from Kentucky but also from anywhere else in the solar system.

Short plays, one-acts, children's plays, musicals and full-length productions are all being sought for 2009. Don't try to predict or second-guess what we might like - it can't be done. We're completely omnivorous and polyamorous. So contact us!

The call is ongoing and currently without deadline.

A cover letter should include the title of the play, the playwright's name, address, telephone numbers, e-mail address, and a brief bio. Multiple submissions are welcomed.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Reminder: Theatre Hop

Final reminder: the first-ever Louisville Theatre Hop is approaching, and Catclaw will be taking part with a Voraxium show at Bluegrass Brewing Company on Main Street. The performances begin at 7pm and go till 9:30pm, then the action moves to Primo.

Because of the unconventional venue (a taproom) for Voraxium, we'll be doing a very stripped-down (no pun intended) minimalistic event that will actually probably be more in the realm of avant-garde performance art. Approach our levee at your peril.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Carolyn Purcell

We're proud to announce that Carolyn Purcell has signed on board for our production of Toulouse-inations in August! Carolyn plays a mysterious gypsy fortune teller who affects a change over Toulouse-Lautrec's way of looking at life, the universe, and everything.

Previously, Carolyn played Lavinia in Lady Anderly's Rose for WhoDunnit Murder Mystery Theater, Miss Harrigan in Classic Melodies' Annie Jr., a Lost Boy in Music Theatre Louisville's Peter Pan, and Rachel in the film Overnight Book for Smithy Productions in NYC. She's also been a spokesperson for the Gorilla Rainforest exhibit at Louisville Zoological Gardens and played Tweety Bird in full mascot costume at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom! She's also studied with some of the best - Peter Sklar, Dru Pilmer, and Zan Sawyer-Dailey.

We look forward to working with Carolyn!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"Weird Kentucky" book signings!

Just a reminder that Catclaw's Jeffrey Scott Holland, author of the new book Weird Kentucky, will be making book-signing appearances at:

  • June 12 - Barnes & Noble at The Summit, Louisville, KY. 7:00pm.
  • June 28 - A Reader's Corner, Louisville, KY. 1:00pm.
  • July 12 - Morris Book Shop grand opening, Lexington, KY. TBA.

  • But if you're impatient and just can't wait till these events to obtain the book, the obsessive-compulsive folks over at Telecrylic International have compiled a price-comparison chart for online sources of Weird Kentucky.

    Saturday, June 7, 2008

    Jo Self's Top Five Plays

    We asked our good friend Jo Self, creative mastermind behind the Louisville Theatre Hop and Bon Vivant Savant, to name her top five plays, and this is the response we received:

    1. The House of Blue Leaves: I love this one because it's zany and complex all at the same time. The characters are so flawed, but sweet. Artie, a zookeeper who wants to become a composer, his crazy (literally) wife, Bananas and his mistress, Bunny Flingus who will sleep with anyone, but won't cook for them as it the only thing she does well. Bunny was absolutely one of my favorite characters ever to play in a show. Though my grandmother was a bit upset that my underwear was showing.

    2. Avenue Q: I loved it. Unexpected, cute, heart-warming and dirty, dirty dirty. How could you not love it?

    3. Brighton Beach Memoirs: This may have something to do with the fact that I saw Jonathan Silverman in the lead role and it was the first play on Broadway that I saw when I was 12. But I remember laughing so much and just really enjoying the lines.

    4. Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead: Great twist on a Shakespeare classic - and a bit more entertaining in my mind. I always enjoy seeing Shakespeare pushed to the limits, updated and all around messed with, most especially when it's done well.

    5. Arsenic and Old Lace: Classic. Great lines, interesting characters and keeps you giggling. What more can I say?

    Wednesday, June 4, 2008

    Theatre Hop

    Just another reminder that the first-ever Louisville Theatre Hop is approaching! Catclaw will be taking part with a sort-of Voraxium show at Bluegrass Brewing Company on Main Street.

    Tuesday, June 3, 2008

    JSH's Top Five Plays

    We asked artistic director Jeffrey Scott Holland to name his top five plays, and this is the response we received:

    Should I separate them into musicals and non-musicals? I love a lot of different kinds of theater. If you ever watch the TV show Slings and Arrows, the three main male characters are always very combative towards each other because one's obsessed with Shakespeare, one's all about musicals, and the other's strictly into pretentious avant-garde spectacles. I always have a very schizophrenic feeling watching the show, because I can relate to all three characters. I like everything they like - combined - and more.

    Anyway, in no particular order, at this moment, I think my top five is:

    1. Sweeney Todd. My favorite version ever was the traveling version that just came to Louisville, with Judy Kaye as Mrs.Lovett. After that, I love the original Hearn-Lansbury version best. The movie's fun too. Not so crazy about any of the Patti LuPone incarnations.

    2. The Producers. Say what you will about Mel Brooks - and there's a lot to be said about him - the original Broadway cast and the subsequent movie were a pinnacle in 20th century theater. Says me.

    3. Last Summer At Bluefish Cove. I'm specifically speaking here of the recent one that Pandora Productions did in Louisville, but I'm sure I'd love to see it again done by anyone. The way the set is laid out in two separate parts that connect in real time (thus eliminating the need for pauses to change scenery) directly inspired the way I'm going to have the set broken into two parts in Toulouse-inations. I also love the play's style, its sense of characterization, and flow of dialogue. The play is so well crafted that you don't have to be able to relate to its core issues (lesbianism, cervical cancer, 1970s feminism) to be moved by it.

    4. Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. Brecht and Weill have always been HUGE influences on me, in ways even I'm probably not aware. I've never seen or heard a bad version of this. I'm especially fond, however, of John Doyle 's recent version that aired on PBS. Patti LuPone redeems herself here, and does a stellar job.

    5. Twelfth Night. Despite its high stature among scholars, this is probably Shakespeare's cheesiest work in the canon, seeing as it basically set the meta-template for every episode of Three's Company that dealt with accidents of chance, misunderstoods, and sexual ambiguity. And I love it anyway. Someday Catclaw will put it on. Someday.

    Sunday, June 1, 2008

    Ashley Rose Stallings

    Prepare to be dazzled by Ashley Rose Stallings, who plays Eugenie (Jenny) in Toulouse-inations. Eugenie, a Parisian prostitute, has dreams of becoming a playwright and getting out of the brothel/nightclub in which the story is set.

    Ashley has also appeared in the Warehouse Theatre's production of The Vagina Monologues, Stickler Theatre's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Okoboji Summer Theatre's The Butler Did It Again.