The NOLA Project Show Archive

Is He Dead?

Is He Dead?
Written by Mark Twain
Adapted by David Ives
Directed by Beau Bratcher
September 2011: University of New Orleans Performing Arts Center; Robert E. Nims Theatre

A.J. Allegra: Agamemnon "Chicago" Buckner
Alex Martinez Wallace: Jean-Francois Millet
Jared Gore: Hans "Dutchy" Von Bismarck
Sam Dudley: Phelim O'Shaughnessy
Eric Long: The King of France
James Bartelle: Basil Thorpe
James Vitale: Charlie
Kristin Witterschein: Marie Leroux
Larry R. Johnson: Claude Riviere
Leianna Seals: Madame Caron
Natalie Boyd: Cecile Leroux
Paxton McCaghren: Papa Leroux
Shelby Butera: Madame Bathilde
Zach Rogers: Bastien Andre

James Yeargain: Assistant Director
Cliff Thompson: Stage Manager
Mignon Charvet: Costume Design
Joan Long: Lighting Design, Scenic Design & Construction
Kit Sternberger: Assistant Stage Manager
Kayln Hepting: Props Master
John B. Barrois: Production Photographer

Jean-Francois Millet, a young painter of genius, is in love with Marie Leroux, but in debt to the villainous picture dealer, Bastien Andre.  Andre forecloses on Millet, threatening debtor's prison unless Marie marries him.  Millet realizes the only way he can pay his debts and keep Marie from marrying Andre is to die, as it is only dead painters who achieve fame and fortune.  Millet fakes his own death and prospers, all while passing himself off as his own sister, the Widow Tillou.  Now a rich "widow", he must find a way to get out of a dress, return to life, and marry Marie.

some personal history

Is He Dead? was one of the silliest, ridiculous, most fun shows I had done in a very, very long time. Alex Wallace in a dress…what else could one possibly need?
I, also, had to cross-dress in this show, but only for the 2nd Act. I had to pretend to be this ridiculous French investigator, who was trying to find out if my character’s man friend was cheating on her with cross dressing Alex Wallace….still following?
So. I’m a ridiculous French man….with one of the largest and finest fake mustaches I’ve ever seen, or had the privilege to wear. Mignon (the costumer) , Beau (the director), and myself had decided the bigger the better when it came to my fake facial hair, because at the end of the play another character was going to have to rip it off my face to prove that I was indeed “Cecile”, and not a French man.
The second to last dress rehearsal is happening and we decide tonight is the night to try the moustache. At intermission I change into my man wear, and get out the goods….I put a generous amount of spirit gum on the thing because….you know…we’re doing a farce, and hiding behind plants and running like crazy people….I don’t want the thing to fall off....not really remembering that 45 minutes from now it needs to be ripped off my face.
End of the play is about to happen…I’m clutching AJ  because he is playing my man friend….James Vitale, another actor in the play, walks over to me…says his lines….I brace for impact….and he rips the moustache off my face.
Pain. Pain. Burning Pain. Pain. Pain. Ow Ow Ow.
That was my internal voice….my outside voice let out a terribly hilarious scream followed by some expletives…..
And the entire cast laughing. And not just giggling…..A.J. fell on the floor and rolling around laughing and he just kept yelling…”I could hear the skin rip!!! I could hear the skin rip!!!”, Beau looked like he was crying he was laughing so hard, and poor James Vitale was so afraid I was going to kill him.
This is why we have dress rehearsals. To make sure you don’t yell “F*%!” at the audience when your mustache gets ripped off of your face. -- Natalie Boyd


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