The Passion of Teresa Rae King
Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhh. There's nothing as gratifying as collaborating on a new play. Triad Stage helmed by the uber talented Preston Lane is where I spent 7 weeks in theatre heaven. The Passion of Teresa Rae King is a world premiere piece based on the Emile Zola novel Terese Raquin. When I say it was a collaborative experience, I mean collaborative to the greatest extent imaginable. My heart soared daily as we explored our version of the story set in Appalachia. Preston Lane, the playwright and director created a safe and welcoming environment filled with love and laughter. As we shaped and developed the play together (7 actors), we would get giddy with each discovery and then stop in our tracks thinking: OMG, will the audience fully GET what it is we are sharing? Tech was the longest of my career. We had live cameras, projections, a pool under the stage which was our river where the murder would take place, very complicated sound cues and set pieces that had to be moved like legos. If I said I loved every minute of it 1000 times, it wouldn't be enough. Audiences were CRAZY for it. I mean screaming and laughing in all of their chosen right places. Every night was different. Every night they would stare at us at the end, as exhausted and elated as we were. Then slowly, they would stand. Never the same rhythm. I always say to my actors when directing that they and audiences are human so every night will be different. My Goodness! I haven't even talked about my role and the story! Mamie, the matriarch, is a survivor of the greatest kind -- widowed single mother left with her brother's granddaughter, Teresa Rae and her own son, Carter to raise. She brings them up together in the same room. They marry when they are teens. My relationship with Carter is a little too close and I treat Teresa Rae like a maid. In a very depressed town, living in a lower class neighborhood, opportunity is limited. An ex-con, Levon, from our old hometown shows up and falls for Teresa Rae. They plot and murder my son to be together. That's where the pool/river comes in. They murder him in front of the audience live with simultaneous projections on screens around the stage. The choreography was so so fantastic. I couldn't watch it after a while. Carter looked like he was drowning. It was heartbreaking and terrifying. I have a stroke and am wheelchair bound the entire 2nd act. When the ex-con tells me he murdered my son, I have another stroke on stage. Carter's ghost terrorizes the lovers. Teresa kills the ex-con/lover and then kills herself -- done with a gun and blood cannons. I die and then rise from my chair, cross to my dead son and we descend into the river together. The story is told by a cop who becomes part of the family, and in her love for her new family, she misses all of the clues. It's woven so beautifully. It's hilarious, scary, riveting, harrowing, gut-wrenching and magical. The cast led by the amazing Sarah Hankins as the cop, the gorgeous sultry Madeline Fox as Teresa Rae, the wickedly sly and hilarious Stanton Nash as Carter and the hot tempered Patrick Ball as Levon the ex-con were exceptional on every level. Many thanks to Preston Lane, this phenomenal cast, the crew and staff of Triad for making this a theatrical experience I'll never forget. It made me hungry for more more more.