‘Dead Man’s Cell Phone’ opens next week
Special to Prospector
KNOW & GO
What: Dead Man’s Cell Phone presented by Sierra Stages
When: Sept. 29 through Oct. 16
Thursdays at 7 PM
Fridays & Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Sundays (Oct. 2 & 16) at 2 p.m.
Where: Off Center Stage 315 Richardson St., Grass Valley
$20 - Sept. 29 & 30
$25 - All other performances
$35 - All Performances
For more information, call at 530-346-3210
With social media and mobile technology an overwhelming force in many of our lives, are we sure we’re really living? Or are we simply sleepwalking?
That’s one of the questions raised by the newest Sierra Stages production, “Dead Man’s Cell Phone.”
The play, which opens Sept. 29 at Off Center Stage in Grass Valley, stars Lyra Dominguez as Jean, a woman whose life changes when she decides to answer a stranger’s ringing cellphone. The stranger, played by Jonathan Hansard, is dead, as it turns out. And so the aptly named story uses Jean’s choice as the catalyst to explore the impact our digital age has on the life and death of an individual.
“There are some central mysteries that Jean discovers as she goes on her journey into this guy’s life. There are also touches of the supernatural,” said director Sharon Winegar. “The play starts off realistically, but then it goes into the ozone as far as strangeness. We have lots of special effects and lighting projections. We have fight scenes. We have love scenes. It’s just a wonderful, wacky, funny and often really touching little story.”
Winegar has prior experience with the play, having directed it in 2009. Its unique sense of humor made it a perfect fit for this community, she says, and is the reason why she is reprising her role.
“I kept thinking when I was working on it that this was a show that Nevada County would love,” she said. “I had pitched it to the producers of Sierra Stages and, coincidentally, they had already read it and loved it. Then, when they were arranging their season this year, they offered me the opportunity to re-mount this production. It has many of the same elements that I used in the (last) production, but the actors are different and they bring different things to each character.
“The people I cast in no way resemble the people I used in the previous production. They have different personalities that they bring to the characters. They’re saying the same words and doing the same movements, but they embody the characters differently,” Winegar added.
Dominguez, a veteran of the stage who has appeared in numerous plays and musicals, says that her choice to play the lead role was made easy thanks in no small part to the presence of Winegar.
“She’s an amazing director. To be honest with you, I accepted this part because of her,” Dominguez said. “I was about to do another show, and it was going to be in October, so I had to pick. It boiled down to wanting to work with her. It wasn’t even about the play, her process is so organic. Among all of the directors I’ve worked with, she really encourages you to find what you naturally felt like doing.”
Hansard was also complimentary of cast and crew. Though he’s no stranger to Sierra Stages, the play will be his first non-musical endeavor.
“It’s exciting. Especially as an actor, you always want to meet new people and get new perspectives,” he said. “That’s why we do what we do.”
“Dead Man’s Cell Phone” will run from Sept. 29 to Oct. 16, with showings on Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and two Sunday shows on Oct. 2 and Oct. 16 at 2 p.m. at Off Center Stage, 315 Richardson St, Grass Valley. Advance tickets can be purchased online, at http://www.sierrastages.org/generaladmission or by calling 530-346-3210.
With a play this surreal and zany, the hope is for the audience to not only enjoy the humor, but to understand the underlying message, Winegar says.
“I hope (the audience) goes home talking about what happened and whether it was real. Was it an illusion? Was this whole thing a fantasy?” she said. “The nice thing about this play is that if offers more than just entertainment. It offers some real questions about our society.”
“Whether you believe in the afterlife or not, right now counts. The way you live your life really matters. If nothing else, I think that’s…the message of the play; it’s just told in a really quirky, unorthodox way,” added Dominguez. “Hopefully, people have fun with it. There’s a meaning (to the play); it’s not farce, it’s not shallow. It’s a fun show and a happy show, and there’s not a whole lot of that sometimes.”
Spencer Kellar is a Nevada County freelance writer. All photos, including the cover photo, are by David Wong.
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