'Bang' bounced at TOTS

January 31, 2008
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A last-minute switch in the lineup at Theatre on the Square was mysteriously announced yesterday. In the just-around-the-corner late February slot, out went the relatively unknown survivalist comedy “Bang.” In comes the Pulitzer-Prize winning “Proof.” Why? According to the news release, it was “unforeseen circumstances.”

I asked TOTS executive artistic director Ron Spencer for an explanation. 

“I had a quartet of actors who understood the nature of the work and could have pulled it off beautifully,” he said. “Unfortunately, we lost our leading man to a film gig in Japan.  I would have had to basically start over with four new and different people.”

And what’s wrong with that?

“It would have taken on a style of acting and performance I would not have thought was first-rate. So no go,’ he said.

While I wish Indy had an acting pool with the depth and breadth that could accommodate such shocks, I have enormous respect for Spencer’s decision to pull the plug. I can easily name a handful of other plays—and a national tour or two—where casting issues made for a few grueling hours of theater. If you know that early, why not cut your losses?

Besides, “Proof” is a terrific play—with an outstanding role for Spencer. We’ll see what he does with it when the play opens Feb. 22. 

Of course, I’m still trying to wrap my head around an actor being pulled from a TOTS production for a gig in Japan. Ah, show business.

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