Iowa City – Combined Effort Theatre, which describes itself as Iowa’s only theatre company with a mission of purposeful inclusion of individuals with disabilities in performances of compelling excellence, will present The Lollipop Files this weekend only, November 20-22. Written by Janet Schlapkohl and directed by Krista Neumann, the show will be presented at Montgomery Hall on the Johnson County Fairgrounds. Go here for tickets. I had a chance to talk to Janet, the founder of CET, about the show.
Can you give us a synopsis of the show?
Walter Falls, private eye, gets a big case, from a movie star, Curvaceous La Mon. He’s asked to track down a stolen sapphire ring. But Walter is more than a little inattentive. As a result he gets pulled into a big crime network run by The Dentist.
Curvaceous owes money to the mob, money is laundered in Costello’s Diaper service, graft is served by the gals at Mamma Spumoni’s Diner, and kids selling lollipops out of Sally’s Sweet Shop are in fact taking bets. Yellow is for bets on the horses. Red for bets on the fights. Orange, for the daily lottery number and green, well, “Nobody likes green.” Walter finds crime everywhere, he just doesn’t see it!
But, from the start, Walter is trailed by Margie, a savvy eight year old, who pays attention. It all comes down to a final boxing match, with all the pay-off money on a single fighter.
I noticed in the promotional material that the show is done in the style of film noir. Why did you go that route?
It is a theatrical event in film noir style because, like the old movies, it has voice-over narration, in the “It was a cold dark night,” style. The narrator starts describing events in past tense (like film noir does) and introduces other characters in a single scene. He then stops, cut to the beginning and we see the events unfold in real time, using present tense. Because it is theatre, another actor embodies his physical character, as he continues narration.
We use the heightened language of the genre, and incorporate film noir types: the private eye, the haughty movie star, the sweetheart, the street kids, Mamma, the mobsters. It also includes typical film noir locations: the mansion, the Diner, the nightclub, the boxing ring. The script spoofs some of the genre’s dialogue. “Lolly?” replaces, “Cigarette?” Set pieces are in grey tones. We chose it because it is a lot of fun!
Who is in it?
Josh Sazon plays the narrator and Alex Grubbe plays Walter Falls. Gia Pasley is the savvy eight year old and Roxanne Gustaveson plays Curvaceous La Mon. And of course, Evie Stanske is Mamma Spumoni.
Mamma Spumoni! I think that’s my grandmother. What are some of the challenges you faced?
The show does not have any defined scene changes. It moves from one location to the next without pause, so actors have to really listen for the location cues. They often come in the middle of phrases. For example, “I thought I’d stop by Mamma Spumoni’s and grab a cup of Joe.” Everyone in Mamma Spumonis has to move into place before the actor arrives. The set is wide open, which is why Montgomery Hall works well for this.
Why should we see this show?
The show is fast paced and fun with a great scene in a speakeasy, featuring the extraordinary musical talents of some of Iowa City’s treasures.
Thanks, Janet. Sounds like one we don’t want to miss!
Walter Falls Private Eye-Alec Grubbe
Curvaceous La Mon- Roxanne Gustaveson
Carleen Holtzhammer-Ryann Sirois
Mamma Spumoni-Evie Stanskie
Sally-Pam Michael Meyers
Nurse- Katia Maxey
Babs- Erin Paterson
Bora- Ann Greenstein
Newsie- Peter Gayley
Curvaceous La Mon’s Children
Frankie the Barber-Kalvin Goodlaxson
Hacksaw –Iver Hovet
Big Tuna- Spencer Rideout
Stinkey Costello-Ken Gayley
Doris- Jane Bradbury
Performers at the Maxie’s Speakeasy
Mary Haaf Wedemeyer
Boxer Fritz Holtzhammer-Jim Sirois
Boxer Slappy Kretzen-Nick Hotek
Opera Singer-Chris Paterson