The Lyons Cast Interviews

The Road Theatre on Lankershim is proud to present The Lyons by Nicky Silver, a scathingly funny play about a dysfunctional family in the process of disintegration. The play has been extended through July16. We continue to feature the cast and creative team in our spotlight. This week it shines on Kris Frost, a Roadie since 2015.

Kris Frost

What character do you play and how does he serve the play?

I play Brian Hutchins. He’s a Manhattan real estate agent who has an interesting encounter with the central character Curtis Lyons. I think the playwright uses Brian and the scene he and Curtis have together as a way to explain more about who Curtis is.

What challenges do you face as an actor playing this role?

This is a great role and the unique challenge of it is honoring the journey that takes place in only one scene. It almost feels like a play within a play. Quite a bit happens uninterrupted and I get to run the gamut of emotions. It’s equally fun, rewarding, and scary.

Talk a bit about your director and fellow cast members.

Scott Alan Smith is an actor’s director. He’s an actor himself and it appears to me he keeps that in mind when he is directing. We can be an insecure and neurotic mess, we actors, and Scott knows how and when to step in and help and when to step back and give an actor the freedom and confidence to discover something on his own. I’m so happy and humbled to be a part of this cast.

In your opinion, what is the message of the play?

Wow, that’s tricky for me to answer. Family can be cruel.

What do you think audiences will hopefully take away with them after they’ve seen the play?

Something to think and talk about afterwards or the next day… and an appreciation for dark humor.

THE ROAD ON LANKERSHIM is located in the historic Lankershim Arts Center at 5108 Lankershim Blvd in North Hollywood.You may purchase tix by calling (818) 761-8838 or go online and visit

lankershimartscenter.com There is  street parking or $7 lot parking at 5125 Lankershim Blvd.

 


 

Verity Branco

What character do you play in The Lyons and how do you feel the character serves the play?

I play Lisa Lyons. Lisa is the black sheep in this bunch but like her family she also struggles to find any real human connection. The connections she does make are either abusive and/or lack depth. Lisa is an interesting person in the sense that she hides a lot of truths about herself due to shame and fear but outs them in her other family members very easily, leading to a family breakdown. Through that breakdown I think everyone starts to get a little more honest with themselves. So, I like to think that Lisa’s giant outbursts serve as a catalyst for that.

What challenges have you experienced in your preparation as an actor?

 Finding the balance of strength and fragility in Lisa. Also, the pacing of this show is so insane. Nicky Silver’s writing is so quick and overlapping or cutting off each other’s lines, so the writing demands the actor to be listening like crazy. The level of focus has got to be sharp otherwise we can fall out of the pocket of that built in rhythm. The minute we lose that pacing we can all feel it.

What in your mind is the message of the play?

The search for human connection.

Talk a bit about working with your director and your fellow cast members.

I’ve loved this process. Scott and the other Lyons are fellow East Coasters, like me, so it’s been really fun to be around that energy and work with these great actors. There are always lots of laughs and support and jokes flying around. I think Scott is a real actors’ director. He trusts the actor to find things on their own and encourages play and exploration. He has a very keen eye (and ear) to what works and what needs to go further. I trust him completely.

What do you hope audiences will take away with them?

 Oh, I don’t know … maybe that their families aren’t as messed up as they thought, that human connection can come from the most unexpected place… if you’re open.

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Chad Coe

What character do you play in The Lyons and how do you feel the character serves the play?

I play Curtis Lyons. Curtis so desperately wants to be loved. He wants to better his life

and do the right thing, but he keeps coming up against the wounds of the past. Because

of this it propels him like a runaway train.

What challenges have you experienced in your preparation as an actor?

Curtis is a very complicated person that doesn’t really let anyone in to see the real him.

At first glance I thought he and I were very different, but as I have grown closer to him I

have realized our similarities are very real. It has been a challenge to ask those same

questions in my life and to realize I do understand what creates this man.

What in your mind is the message of the play?

You don’t choose your family; you survive them.

Talk a bit about working with your director and your fellow cast members.

The great thing about Scott as a director is that he gives you the freedom to discover

and play. He could easily give you the answer because he had it day one, but it would

cheapen the moment you realize it for you character. Scott also has a beautiful

understanding of the root of what your character is going through and can convey it in a

way that unlocks something for you. This may be the best cast I have ever been a part

of. I am in awe of everyone and we are being led my two veteran actors who are putting

on a master class every night. I feel honored to share the stage with everyone and give

this play to the audience.

What do you hope audiences will take away with them?

I think the reason I go to the theatre is to escape for a few hours and hopefully come

back asking a question whether it be about my personal experience or life in general. I

would like them to feel as though we took their hand and showed them a real family in

turmoil and that all of us aren’t that much different no matter race, color, or creed.

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Judith Scarpone

What role are you playing?

I am thrilled to be playing Rita, the Matriarch of the Lyon clan.

Tell us what Rita is like and how she contributes to the play.

Like all mothers she is, or should be, the center or heart of the family. But , in Rita’s case, she is incapable of bringing the love and connections the family so desperately needs.

What challenges do you face as an actress?

The challenge of playing Rita is to have you understand her feelings of loss, the disappointment of a life she feels she “never lived”. To not find that basic core…her pain would reduce her to the “bitch” her husband labels her.

Do you think audiences will learn anything from the play?

I think audiences will relate very well to the dysfunctional Lyon clan in their search for love/connection which we ALL desperately seek. I think older audience members will relate to Rita’s final decision. Her fear of aging, death and the need to find one’s self and “live” before it’s too late. Rita is a modern day, older version of Nora from Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.

Talk a little about your director and fellow cast members.

I feel very fortunate to be working with director Scott Alan Smith and to share the stage with such an incredibly talented group of actors. What a gift !

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Scott Alan Smith

Tell our readers about directing The Lyons.

Working on The Lyons has been pure joy for me. I was excited to get a chance to direct it as I have been a fan of Nicky Silver’s plays for years. During the process I got a chance to talk to Nicky for over 90 minutes on the phone and we discussed the play in great depth and detail –as well as talking about theater folk we had in common and how to pack sensibly for an extended trip to England…We have also shared many emails where we have discussed the characters’ journeys and he has been exceptionally candid and available to our production.

What it is about?

The play concerns a family dealing with the impending death of the father-a topic that gets explored in a number of Lifetime or Hallmark Hall of Fame movies and in that way this play is deceptive. The Lyons family is more concerned with their own problems than they are with the death of the patriarch. In many ways it is about avoidance and the lies we tell ourselves to live a semblance of a “normal” life or at least one that we perceive is expected from us. There is great freedom in finally saying the truth out loud and the gift of Nicky Silver is that the truth is endlessly funny…as well as painfully real. It’s a wonderful play and it is full of great challenges for the actors.

Talk about your cast.

The cast-led by the hilarious sparring duo of Judith Scarpone and James Handy- is exceptional and came ready to dig deep and also to bond and create the family dynamics that this play absolutely demands. Each actor is bringing themselves to this work in a funny and moving way. We are double cast with the role of the nurse so hopefully returning audiences will get a chance to see two different takes on the same character. The Road is interested in the idea of completely double casting at some point and this is a small first step in that direction.

And your creative team? How are they helping to bring The Lyons to theatrical life?

The set design by Sarah B Brown is simply stunningly brilliant. It is one of my favorite sets ever and it does something that is so metaphorically perfect that I love it every time I see it. Lighting by Derrick McDaniel is spot on as always and subtle in its support of the moments. Derrick and I go back 10 years of working together. David B. Marling’s sound is a wonder as it always is and this is our 20th year working together-Dave and I also work together at Pepperdine. Costumes by Mary Jane Miller are exactingly detailed and always say something about the character and she and I are working on our 4thshow together. Prop design is by Amy Stoch, Christine Joelle with special props by Maurie Gonzalez who is also our stage manager and has stage managed every show I have directed at the Road since 2008 and is really the captain of the SS Lyons. I am assisted by the wonderful Melelani Satsuma and Kailee Rogers-a Pepperdine graduate who is also a promising young director.

Any final comments?

 I am grateful to Taylor Gilbert and Sam Anderson for the support and encouragement during this entire process as well as their enthusiasm for this play. The production value rivals anything you would see on any major regional theatre stage and continues a tradition of bringing exceptional production design to the intimate 44 seat Lankershim space.

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THE ROAD ON LANKERSHIM is located in the historic Lankershim Arts Center at 5108 Lankershim Blvd in North Hollywood.You may purchase tix by calling (818) 761-8838 or go online and visit lankershimartscenter.com. There is  street parking or $7 lot parking at 5125 Lankershim Blvd.