Month: August 2015

Blog: The Legend Begins in One Week


The Laughs Keep Coming at Hedgerow With Bullshot Crummond

Using the philosophy that one good farce deserves another, Hedgerow Theatre follows its popular summer comedy with Bullshot Crummond, a madcap parody of 1930s detective films that recreates in comic fashion movie special effects on stage. It runs from September 3 to October 11, with previews on September 3 and 4 at 7:30 p.m. and the opening night on Saturday, September 5 at 8 p.m.  

Ron House, Diz White, John Neville-Andrews, Alan Shearman and Derek Cunningham’s critically praised 1974 play features a plane crash, a manic car chase, sword fighting, a supervillain, a femme fatale, and a damsel in distress, not to mention a large amount of slapstick, bizarre and unlikely events, rapid-fire costume changes and actors who play multiple roles.

The title character is a takeoff of Bulldog Drummond, a pulp-fiction character of the ’30s, , an ingenious WWI vet with great intelligence and amazing crime-solving skills, partially based on Sherlock Holmes and one of the inspirations for James Bond. Bullshot Crummond, on the other hand, is certainly dashing and daring, but seems to solve crimes more by accident than skill. The hilarious plot involves an attempt by the dastardly evil Otto von Brunno and his mistress Lenya to take over the international diamond trade by kidnapping a professor with a secret formula for synthetic gems. The professor’s daughter, Rosemary Fenton, a charming ingenue, contacts Bullshot to save her dad.

Brock D. Vickers, who has been seen in many Hedgerow productions, plays Bullshot Crummond.  Otto and Lenya are portrayed by Hedgerow Fellows Josh Portera and Allison Bloechl. Mary Beth Shrader, who played Reece in last year’s Communicating Doors, returns as Rosemary. Rounding out the cast is newcomer Bryan Black, a 1914 graduate of the University of the Arts, who handles seven parts.

It’s directed by Matt Tallman, a Philadelphia actor and director who played Richard Hannay in last summer’s 39 Steps, a play much in the same vein. In fact, Tallman once played Bullshot early in his career, and recommended the play while appearing at Hedgerow as a good fit for the theatre.

Adult ticket prices for Friday, Saturday evening and Sunday shows are $34; Thursday and Saturday twilight shows are $29. There is a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for those 30 and under are $20 and $15 for students with valid ID. Tickets for the previews on September 3 and 4 are $20 for adults and $15 for students. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18. It is also possible to purchase a membership, which provides half-price tickets for all shows. Prices include all fees and are subject to change.

For reservations or more info, call 610-565-4211 or visit Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media).


Blog: Final Word on No Sex

Death is easy, Comedy is hard.

Supposedly, this quote was spoken by the great comic write Moliere on his deathbed.  It is absolutely true, whoever said it! (Moliere also supposedly said another of my favorites: Comedy is tragedy seen through the prism of time.)

What a wonderful run of this ridiculous show. What interested me the most though in this production was seeing this group of actors take a rehearsal process led by a very talented director (Damon Bonetti) and not only keep the show they opened 7 weeks ago (no small task) but also find the places where they can improve their own performances without altering the structure of the whole (also difficult).

It would be very easy for an actor to feel the laughter coming to them and think, “Ah, yes, that laugh is for me, and I will do more to make that happen more!” But they haven’t, and watching them it feels like they haven’t for some very solid reasons:
      -They know that the “laugh” is really about the setup – whoever controls that, controls the laugh.
      -They know that everyone onstage is responsible for the laugh – it’s only funny, especially in a farce, if all the            other characters onstage help the laugh along, by paying attention, giving the audience the clues of where            to look and when
      -They know that story is ultimately more important than any one laugh – after all it’s why we go to a farce: to             see ridiculous people in a crisis, and how do they get out of it.

I think the world of this group of farceurs and I want to thank Damon Bonetti for teaching them well.

Now, it’s on to another comedy, one full of it’s own, unique challenges. Bullshot Crummond, led by Matt Tallman whom you may have saw as Hannay last year in The 39 Steps, takes the helm of this parody, Leading another group of talented actors through a a fantastic row of choices, I look forward to bringing this melodramatic spoof to our stage. 

Thank you all for being a part of this year’s farce, and for laughing with us again…and again. 

Jared Reed
Artistic Director 

Podcast: Helium Comedy Club

On this week’s podcast, General Manager of Helium Comedy Club in Philadelphia, Jerry McGinnis, calls in to talk about the comedy scene in Philadelphia. As we have the farce coming to an end this week and Bullshot Crummond opening soon, we wanted to know what the stand-up scene is like here in Philly, and why audiences love to see comedy. Enjoy this different perspective of live performance!

Blog: Get to know Mark Swift 

Mark Swift is apparently aptly named, at least in terms of the many rapid life changes he’s made this year. He graduated in May from Rider University with a B.A. in theatre performance, landed a job as an Acting Fellow at Hedgerow Theatre, and won critical acclaim in his role in No Sex Please, We’re British, which ends its run on August 23.

In Anthony Marriott and Alistair Foot’s hit British comedy, Swift plays Brian Runnicle, the chief cashier at the London branch of a bank managed by newlywed Peter Hunter. Peter’s wife Frances orders what she thinks is Swedish glassware, but insteads starts receiving shipments of pornography, and Brian is charged with helping them dispose of the illegal materials. Playing Brian involves physical comedy and lots of slapstick, at which Swift excels, as one critic called him a “comic gem.”

It’s all been a bit of a whirlwind for the Hamilton, N.J., native, but he’s enjoying the challenge. “It was great to just dive right into it. I feel very grateful for the opportunity,” he said. “I didn’t imagine I would be doing something this much fun so soon. I had never read the play before, after I did, I thought this is perfect, just a dream role for me.”

It seemed like a perfect fit, too, to Executive Director Penelope Reed and Artistic Director Jared Reed when Swift auditioned for the Fellowship. “Jared and I looked at each other after we saw Mark,” Penelope recalled, “and said ‘We’ve found our Brian.’ He’s a great addition to the company.” Swift learned he had been hired and cast in the play at the same time, and he thought it would be a smaller part. “I was happy just to be in the show,” he admitted, “then Jared told me I would be Brian, and I was pleased to have a named character. Then I read the script and was ecstatic to have such a major role.”

Working on his first professional show and with director Damon Bonetti, co-founder of the Philadelphia Artists’ Collective, has been “incredible.” “Damon is fantastic,” Swift enthused. “One of my favorite things about working with Damon was that it was like snap, snap, working so quickly. The whole show was blocked in a couple of rehearsals and then it was just  fine tuning. I hope to work with him again.”

Since being at Hedgerow, Swift has also worked with the summer camps, been assigned to the marketing team, is a stage manager for the next show, Bullshot Crummond, and is appearing in Storytime! Beauty and the Beast with fellow Rider alum Colleen Marker. He also learned how to do pratfalls safely from Fellow Allison Bloechl, a registered Actor-Combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors. “Even though we aren’t actually fighting,” he laughed, “ Allie helped me learn how to fall properly without hurting myself. My skill set has increased ten fold in the two months I’ve been here. It’s more than I could have hoped for.”

Interestingly enough, acting wasn’t the first choice for Swift, who changed majors five times, jumping from pre-med to communications to undecided to criminal justice before finally deciding on theatre performance. He had done some theatre in high school in ensemble parts and taken acting lessons as a child, but made the switch after appearing in the classic farce A Flea in Her Ear at Kelsey Theatre in Hamilton and then in several plays at Rider, including a modern version of Moliere’s A Doctor in Spite of Himself. He played the lead, Geronte, a rich old man, and it’s still his favorite role to date. “Brian is way, way up there,” he admitted, “but this play was all about how insane you can make something. I got to rap and break dance on stage.”

Up next on stage for Swift is another role he’s wanted to play, Renfield in Dracula, which runs October 22 to November 22. “When I originally read the story of Dracula,” he remembered, “Renfield was the part I thought would be right for me.” He’s looking forward to working with director Dan Hodge, the other co-founder of the Philadelphia Artists’ Collective.

He’s not sure yet what he plans to do in two years when his Fellowship ends other than to try to continue acting, but in the meantime, he’s quite content where he is. “Other than one day I was sick,” he said, “I haven’t had a bad day here. It’s crazy busy, but it’s good busy. I’m so grateful for this chance and thrilled to be doing something I love.”

Adult ticket prices for Friday, Saturday evening and Sunday shows are $34; Thursday and Saturday twilight shows are $29. There is a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for those 30 and under are $20 and $15 for students with valid ID.  For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18. Prices include all fees and are subject to change. For reservations or more info, call 610-565-4211 or visit Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media).


Podcast: Allison Bloechl aka Hitchkick

Allison Bloechl is a company member of Hedgerow Theatre who has been seen in shows such as A Murder Has Been Arranged, Don Quixote, and currently No Sex Please, We’re British. She will be playing Lenya in the upcoming comedic-thriller Bullshot Crummond, in which she also choreographs the stage combat. She is a member of the Society of American Fight Directors and has been a part of Hedgerow Theatre on stage, back stage, and in the front of house for almost a year.