After a two year break from the PHIT stage, Page One is back! This monthly show combines the world of theater with improv for a truly unique experience. Every show, a local playwright is invited to bring the first page of an unpublished script. Then the cast of Page One reads the first page and improvises the rest of the play.
The show was originally developed by Will Luera at ImprovBoston and brought to PHIT Comedy led under the direction of Steve Kleinedler. The reinstallment of Page One is directed by Lizzie Spellman, who was a member of the originals cast at PHIT. She said about the show, “Page One is so important to me. From the very beginning, as a former cast member, the show has been the most rewarding project I’ve ever been a part of. Being able to create an entire piece of theatrical work from just one page in front of a live audience is incredible.” The cast of Page One includes Gab Bottoni, Robyn Cartlidge, Rob Cutler, David Donnella (who returns from the original cast), Shannon Fahey, Jon Plester, and Cecilia Watson.
Lizzie Spellman (right) pictured with the original cast
We wanted to learn more about the new cast of Page One, so we asked them a few questions.
What makes you excited about being a part of Page One?
Rob Cutler: I get to work with talented improvisers, a great director, and fantastic playwrights. Being able to utilize skills carried over from my work with scripted theatre into an improvised environment certainly made the project appealing, and I’m happy to be a part of it.
David Donnella: Page One has always been the project that scares me the most. It’s outside my comfort zone as a performer and that feeling pushes me to do it.
Gab Bottoni: This cast, for starters. I feel really #blessed to be among all these talented people, some of whom I’ve admired and have been wanting the chance to play with. So, I’m jazzed that’s actually happening now. Also, any chance to do narrative, grounded improv excites me. And knowing that the writer of the first page of our play is in the audience makes the experience of performing this show feel a little personal, and definitely more important. I’m excited to show the writer’s every month our interpretation of [the first page of] their work.
Robyn Cartlidge: I used to go to the shows back in the day when Page One was around and I absolutely loved it. I’ve also never had the opportunity to work with Lizzie, so that was an added bonus in the whole process.
Shannon Fahey: I’m most excited about getting to cross two of my favorite things (improv and playwrighting) together in one show!
Jon Plester: I’m a latecomer to the cast, only recently having been added. So the fact that I’m coming into something that’s already in motion, something that is already working incredibly well, is very exciting to me.
What are your favorite things about your teammates?
Rob Cutler: We all bring something different into the room, but are able to play at a really intelligent and interesting level. There’s a willingness from everyone involved to eschew the cheap laugh and get deeper into characters, plot, and themes, without becoming maudlin and over the top.
David Donnella: How quickly everyone was willing to get messy with each other. Shows like this require a great deal of trust and everyone on this team is comfortable taking risks and looking silly.
Gab Bottoni: Every single one of my teammates has the ability to play it real on stage. I think that’s what I love most about this cast. Lizzie made it clear in the audition process how crucial real, human emotions, relationships, and reactions are to this kind of show. The comedy kind of takes care of itself when you’re reacting honestly to each other, and I think everyone on Page One gets that.
Robyn Cartlidge: The trust in this team is unreal. We have only been working together for a few months but we all come together so well for the performances. It’s just a very fun group of people who love to dance and make up weird songs 🙂
Shannon Fahey: My teammates are all very vulnerable, honest and incredible character performers. I am lucky to work with them.
Jon Plester: Everyone in the Page One cast is someone who I’ve wanted to play with for a very long time. They’re all performers who have done something on stage that has pushed the limitations of what I thought could be done in improv.
Why should someone come see a Page One show?
Rob Cutler: It’s cheaper than a movie! I think the format allows us to go deeper than most long form shows. Not knocking the Harold or anything, but Page One gives us an opportunity to flesh out grounded characters in real ways, and tell really unique stories.
David Donnella: Someone should come see a Page One show if they’re interested in seeing a format of theater that really highlights how small the difference between comedy and drama really is.
Gab Bottoni: You should see Page One because you want to see the first page of a play enacted, then promptly crumpled up and thrown away to make room for the unscripted. This is probably your only chance to discover an entire one-act play at the same exact time we do.
Robyn Cartlidge: I guess because it’s something different. That’s my favorite part of the Dynamite Series – it offers a different spin on the improv world.
Shannon Fahey: Someone should see a Page One show because it’s so unpredictably fun. Life is always fun, but in unpredictable ways!
Jon Plester: There’s nothing else like it happening in Philadelphia.
What would you like to hear an audience member say after seeing Page One?
Rob Cutler: “Can I buy you a drink?”
David Donnella: “If that were a play I’d see it again”
Gab Bottoni: “Wow, that show was great! What’s Greg Maughan’s number? I wanna tell him that it should never be cut from the theater’s programming again!!!”
Robyn Cartlidge: “Boy oh boy, that was great” or “anyone have a tissue I can’t stop crying tears of joy”
Shannon Fahey: “Wow, who wrote this??”
Jon Plester: “That the show is not only funny, but an engaging theatrical experience.”
You can see Page One every fourth Friday of the month. Their next show is on April 22nd!