Entertainment, Lifestyle

Arts After Hours 2019: Comedy, music and blood … lots of blood

Samantha Gambaccini announces this year's line up of shows at the Arts After Hours Snow Ball fundraiser held at the Lynn Museum. (Owen O'Rourke)

LYNN — Dark comedy, unspeakable secrets and buckets of blood. Sounds like business as usual in 2019 for Lynn’s wonderfully weird theater company Arts After Hours.

Fresh off Friday night’s successful Snow Ball fundraiser at Lynn Museum, where more than 100 revelers danced, sang karaoke and toasted marshmallows into the wee hours, Arts After Hours’ producing artistic director Samantha Gambaccini and her team are excited to share details about the season’s schedule.

The fun begins March 15-24, with “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead.” This dark comedy, written by Bert V. Royal, reimagines characters from Charles M. Schulz’s popular comic strip Peanuts as degenerate teenagers. Drug use, eating disorders, and kinky sex are just a few of the subjects broached in this parody. Good grief! This blockhead thinks it sounds like amazing fun.

“It is a very, very dark comedy,” said Catherine Bertrand, who will direct the production. “The Peanuts gang deals with the immediate fallout after Charlie Brown’s beloved dog, Snoopy, dies. Typical high school situations arise, but in a very absurd way.”

Gambaccini, who chose this year’s plays and musicals, said sadness, loss and secrets kept send the characters into troubling situations. “It’s the kind of fringe production our audience members enjoy.”

Stephen Sondheim’s “Assassins” is next up, June 14-23. Nathan Fogg DeSisto, who will direct, has worked in several Sondheim productions, including “Into the Woods” and “Sweeney Todd,” but not this musical, which portrays men and women who attempted to murder presidents of the United States.

“I love this piece but it doesn’t get done a lot,” said Fogg DeSisto, a “freelance thespian” and technical director at Massasoit Community College in Brockton. “I’m excited for it.”

So is Gambaccini. “This is a bigger show than we usually do. It brings a cast of 15 into the Black Box theater. I wanted a bigger spring musical, something that’s in your face. Everything looks and feels very accurate, including props and costumes.” Again, dark secrets play a huge role in the plot. “These characters messed up, they tried to kill presidents for heaven’s sake, but it’s the secrets they do them in.”

The third production on the 2019 calendar, is “Carrie: The Musical,” adapted from the Stephen King novel. Gambaccini will direct this Halloween-season show Oct. 18 to Nov. 2.

“This is a cult classic and one of the major flops of musical theater,” said Gambaccini. “The 2012 revival is about Carrie and the relationship she has with her mother. Just let me say, there will be blood. A lot of blood. We’re holding nothing back. We might even bring in a blood-splatter expert to maximize the effect in the Black Box theater.”

In addition, a Youth Theatre Workshop directed by Gambaccini and Brit Christopher, a middle-school theater educator in Danvers and a former Lynn English High teacher, will take place July 22-26. Christopher said students ages 8 to 18 will receive an extensive experience, creating a play from scratch.”We’ll be building a script from the ground up around a ‘What’s your secret’ theme. I’m very excited about this.”

Gambaccini said the cost per student is about $150. She knows that’s problematic for many teens and families, and said some business and political leaders in the city have already donated money to fund scholarships that will allow students to attend at no cost. “I would love to hear from those who would like to sponsor a scholarship or make a donation,” she said. “We would love to make the workshop accessible to every kid who wants to participate.”

Finally, on Oct. 26, Arts After Hours and Lynn Auditorium will team up to present a screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”  accompanied by a shadow cast pantomime company that will mimic the action happening on the auditorium’s big movie screen.

“This is unlike anything else we’ve ever done. It brings back memories of those midnight showings of ‘Rocky Horror.’ Jamie Marsh and everyone at the Lynn Auditorium have been so wonderful. We can’t thank them enough.”

For more information about Arts After Hours, go to the company’s Facebook page and the soon-to-be updated website at www.artsafterhours.com.

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