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Farcical Fun: ByChance Productions opens the new year with vaudeville-style one-acts

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Tony Moore’s ByChance Productions will host three one-acts starting tonight at Cape Fear Playhouse, which run through Sunday, January 12th. Though Moore’s move to Charlotte in 2013 meant a grave loss on Wilmington’s theatre scene, he’s ensuring his stamp of artistic reach still imprints deeply. Moore will produce “The Bear” by Anton Chekov, “The Stepmother” by Arnold Bennett, and “Box and Cox” by John Maddison through his theatre company.

“I chose these shows because I wanted to do something classic that maybe audiences hadn’t seen before,” Moore tells. “I wanted variety—to try something other than original works.”

Dizzy-Gladstone-Box-and-CoxByChance has hosted Moore’s original scripts since the theatre company’s inception in the late ’90s. This go ’round Moore chose classic shorts following a multitude of themes, from grief and heartache in “The Bear,” to chicanery and double tenantry in “Box and Cox,” to love, deception and flailing success in “The Stepmother.” Each show basically is a one-act vaudeville presentation, something Moore admits to being a fan of. In fact, he adores the Abbot and Costello-era comedies. “I think it’s great to go back to our roots and jump back in time to have fun with the original style of comedy!” he exclaims.

In looking for the connective thread of farces, Moore thought the quick pacing and wit of words would be a fun way to open 2014 in Wilmington. “Audiences will enjoy being reminded of a different time and a different way of doing things!” he assures. “Watching older shows is a great tool to show us where we’ve been and how far we’ve come.”

Pamela Grier will be leading the directing hand for ByChance. encore spoke with Grier about the one-acts and what audiences can expect.

encore (e): Tell us how you’re approaching the direction of these shows.
Pamela Grier (PG): Directing three different one-acts is actually a little more challenging that a full-length show. You have to find the common theme so that it doesn’t seem like your just throwing together three random shows, but at the same time you have to find a way to make each one unique.

e: Who’s playing whom in each, and give me some insight into their characters. What are you learning from them through the process?
PG: Charles Auten, Terri Batson and Tamica Katzmann are in “The Bear.” “Box and Cox” has myself, Langley McCarol and Bradley Cox. Beth Raynor, Ron Hasson, Brandy Jones and Anthony Corvino are all in “The Stepmother.”

I’ve been really lucky to get to work with all of these people. They’re all such talented actors & they’ve been able to develop these incredible characters in such a short amount of time. They are proof that you really can do anything when you stay focused & always put in 100 percent.

I first took over directing in November. “The Bear” was already cast, and I knew right away that Terri and Charles would be perfect togethe; that really made my job a lot easier. “Box & Cox” is a really fast pace show and is very physical. Shows like that have the potential to be incredibly funny so I was excited about that opportunity.

e: What appeals to you most in each show, per themes or ideas, and how are you ensuring it connects with the audience?
PG: Each of the shows is great about having realistic reactions to certain situations. Even though I’ve never experienced some of the things these characters go through, I can absolutely see myself reacting the way that they do. I think that’s what is going to enable the audience to connect to them, too. They’re going to see themselves in the characters. That’s also what adds to the humor.

e: What do you think audiences will take away from the stories?
PG: Even with everything the characters go through, they all manage to find a way to make it positive. They also kind of help you see that in life you can’t let things that don’t really matter get in the way of the big picture.

e: What have been some of the challenges and the benefits of doing these one-acts?
PG: We haven’t had a lot of time to put everything together so that’s definitely put pressure on everyone involved. However, we’ve all risen to the challenge and worked together. I love getting to come to rehearsal every night and laugh.

e: Tell me about set design, costuming, lighting, etc. Who is doing what, and how is it adding to the overall production value?
PG: Audrey McCrummen is working on the set and lighting. If there was anyone to trust with doing an amazing job in such a short amount of time, it’s definitely Audrey. All of the shows take place in someone’s home, so not only do you have to have a great set, but it also has to really feel comfortable.

Since the shows are modern day, the costumes are really important. Katie Allen is working on those and Ron Hasson brought in a bunch of stuff for us to work with.

A Night of One-Act Farces, presented by ByChance Productions: “The Bear,” by Anton Chekov, “The Stepmother,” by Arnold Bennett, and “Box & Cox,” by John Maddison Morton
Directed by Pamela Grier
Tickets: $10 General Admission.
Cape Fear Playhouse, 610 Castle St.
Thurs-Sat 1/2-5, 9-12, 8 p.m.; Sun. matinees, 3 p.m.
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