To say Erie is overflowing with talent would be a monumental understatement. Dramashop proved that in front of a sold out opening night audience of their annual One Act Festival.
The festival showcases four local playwrights, five directors, and 17 actors in an incredibly entertaining two-and-a-half hour event in the historic Renaissance Centre in downtown Erie.
Long Lost, by Matthew Crays
The evening begins with Long Lost, written by local recording artist Matthew Crays, and directed by Matt Fuchs. Crays wrote the show 10 years ago while attending Gannon University, and it is loosely based on his real-life experience.
Long Lost follows two brothers, Al and Joey, who go on a journey to find out more about their family after their father is in a serious car accident. The show also touches on the theme of addiction, and the lasting effects it can have on a family.
Jasse Camacho Vera delivers a brilliant performance as the crass younger brother, Al. From the moment the lights go up, he has the audience in the palm of his hand, providing belly-laughs and tears, alike.
Chris Pedersen skillfully portrays Al’s hypersensitive older brother, Joey. Vera and Pedersen play off each other perfectly as brothers, creating a genuine bond that is both entertaining and sincere.
Greg Hill (Dr. Mike) and Char Newport (Aunt Liz) also provide the audience with memorable moments in their limited stage time.
Would You – How My Roommate Turned Into A Hotdog! by Howard Lang
“Would you still love me if I was a worm?” This question has destroyed relationships.
Would You is written by Howard Lang and directed by the one and only B.J. Waide. The show is about questions, simply put. It centers around two roommates; Christopher, who stays home and conducts experiments on his food, and Dylan, who works all day at a meat packing facility.
Zachary Hoffman, clad in pineapple pajamas and pizza slippers, gives a wonderful performance as Christopher. He is esoteric and bizarre, which is exactly what Christopher is, as he goes through life questioning every little thing.
Jesse Cammarata is energetic and straight-to-the-point as Dylan. The roommates are complete opposites, and Hoffman and Cammarata balance each other perfectly.
Would You will definitely leave you asking questions at intermission.
Take My Hand, by Margo Wolfe
Written by Margo Wolfe and directed by Lisa Simonian, Take My Hand discovers the relationship between a Death Doula and the personification of Death itself, in this dark, yet heartwarming story.
Kerry Lee Hinkson gives an emotional performance as Fran, the Death Doula who wonders what it’s like on the other side.
Kate Neubert-Lechner is surprisingly gentle for a character named “Death.” She is empathetic and graceful in her approach.
The two of them work in perfect harmony to create a strong bond between Fran and Death, as they work together through the years to ease the transition for countless souls.
Single Book Store, by Brenna Thummler
The evening of one acts concludes with Single Book Store by author/illustrator, Brenna Thummler. The show is co-directed by Alycia Olivar and Anna McJunkin.
Single Book Store centers around Jenny Fish, a young woman who discovers the unfortunate truth about her relationship after being trapped inside the book her partner writes about her.
Molly Parks is genuine in her portrayal of Jenny, and I noticed a lot of women in the audience really connected with her, in particular.
Luke Scribner’s face gets more and more punchable throughout the show, which means he did an outstanding job portraying Liam, Jenny’s narcissistic “boyfriend.”
Raina Harden is hilarious as Jenny’s best friend, Nadine, earning some of the night’s biggest laughs. Her chemistry with Parks is real, and it feels like the two of them are best friends in real life.
Amanda Hill stole the show as the owner of the Single Book Store, Brenda. Her comedic timing is brilliant, and her facial expressions and accent had the audience rolling.
Rounding out the cast is a talented ensemble of Calie Maloney as April, Gianna Natalie as Keela Weatherby, Ashley Meyer, and Kenna Stevens.
There are only two performances of the Dramashop One Act Festival remaining if you want to catch it in person. Curtain is at 8:00 pm Friday and Saturday night. You can get tickets at https://www.dramashop.org/.
If you can’t make it this weekend, Dramashop will have the festival available to view on-demand from May 1-15.