‘Picasso at the Lapin Agile’ kicks off ’19-’20 season



When he made his Jackson County Community Theatre acting debut in the 1990s, Jeremy Hendrix just missed the opportunity to be in “Picasso at the Lapin Agile.”

He said everybody told him how great the show was.

Now, he’s getting the chance to be a part of the production, as the show written by comedian Steve Martin kicks off the theater’s 50th season. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and again Sept. 20 and 21 at Royal Off-the-Square Theatre, 121 W. Walnut St., Brownstown.

“Oh, it has been fantastic,” said Hendrix, who plays the role of artist Pablo Picasso. “It’s a really insightful play. The first time I read it, I was like, ‘I’m not sure I get this,’ but the more you get into it, you’re like, ‘This was written by a comedy guy?'”

The creative and slightly historical play places Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso in a Parisian café, the Lapin Agile (French for nimble rabbit) in 1904, just before the renowned scientist transformed physics with his theory of relativity and the celebrated painter set the art world afire with cubism.

In his first stage comedy, Martin plays fast and loose with fact, fame and fortune as these two geniuses muse on the century’s achievements and prospects and other fanciful topics with infectious dizziness.

Bystanders, including Picasso’s agent, the bartender and his mistress, Picasso’s date, an elderly philosopher and a delusional inventor, introduce additional flourishes of humor.

The final surprise patron to join the merriment at the Lapin Agile is a charismatic dark-haired, hip-swiveling singer time-warped from the future.

“It’s the whole mindset of the hopefulness of the dawn of discovery,” Hendrix said.

“I think when you boil it down, it doesn’t matter what you do, you do it with the passion and excitement, and I think that’s important in life,” said Jordan McKinley, who plays the role of Einstein.

“I think this is going to make a lot of people laugh, too, which that’s good,” he said. “It’s got the heavy, serious, but it’s also got a lot of really funny things. There are a lot of little things in this that are funny and just a lot of laugh-out-loud, uproarious laughter.”

Director Paul Keller said the show has a lot of high humor and a lot of low humor, which Martin is big about.

“It’s a comedy that will apply to anybody who comes to see the show,” he said. “The thing that I love is that this cast really takes the jokes and the drama in the serious moments and the funny moments and everything like that, they blend it together so well that you laugh, you cry, you really enjoy the moments.”

Keller also said they have been able to pull off the show because of the support with production and set design, painting and construction.

The abstract set design features a wall with various types and sizes of picture frames and a unique design behind the bar.

Plus, to the left of the stage, patrons 21 and older will be able to buy adult beverages.

“During the intermission, we’re going to invite people to come up on the stage and hang around the bar, so you can get your drink and we’re going to bring you up and let you enjoy the stage and see what goes on,” Keller said. “It’s not your traditional four walls. Just a lot of things that are going into this production that we’re trying to break that fourth wall. That’s the big thing that we’re trying to do with this one.”

If you go

What: Jackson County Community Theatre’s production “Picasso at the Lapin Agile”

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and again Sept. 20 and 21

Where: Royal Off-the-Square Theatre, 121 W. Walnut St., Brownstown

Cost: Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for senior citizens and students and available for purchase at Family Drug in Brownstown or Artistic Impressions in Seymour or online at jcct.org

Director: Paul Keller

Artistic director: Megan Keller

Production assistant: Matt Nieman

Cast members: Richie Stephan as Freddy, the bar’s owner and bartender; Landon Whitson as Gaston, an elderly man who spends a lot of time going to and from the restroom; Elyse McGill as Germaine, Freddy’s girlfriend and the bar’s waitress; Jordan McKinley as Einstein; Jeremy Hendrix as Picasso; Karen Haas as Suzanne; John Conner Ortman as Sagot; Morgan Henry as Schmendimen; Stephanie Strothmann as The Countess; Brinna Sharp as a female admirer; and Duane Barnard as the visitor from the future

Crew members: Brinna Sharp, stage crew; Erin Nelson and Kathy Nelson, lights; and Kyle Kieser, sound and projection

Set design: Paul Keller and Megan Keller

Set construction: Joel McGill and Joe Reynolds

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