"brave, almost foolhardy endeavor. “CasablancaBox” is a noble effort."
- Andy Webster New York Times April 2017
Written by Sara Farrington
Directed by Reid Farrington
FEATURING: Roger Casey*, Kevin R. Free*, Catherine Gowl*, Lynn Guerra*, Annemarie Hagenaars, Gabriel Hernandez I*, Rob Hille*, Zac Hoogendyk*, Toussaint Jeanlouis*, Matt McGloin*, Adam Patterson*, Stephanie Regina*, Gabriella Rhodeen, Kyle Stockburger, Jon Swain* and Erin Treadway*;
Set/Video Design by Reid Farrington
Lighting Design by Laura Mroczkowski
Video Engineering by John Erickson
Choreography by Laura K. Nicoll
Additional Direction by Marina McClure
Sound Engineering by Travis Wright
Stage Management by Alex B. West*
Dramaturgy by Peter McCabe.
CasablancaBox lifts the veil of the eponymous classic film to reimagine the stories behind the legends. Rife with glamour, war, censorship, sexism, racism, addiction and the refugee crisis of 1940s Hollywood, CasablancaBox is madcap and affecting, moving and political, romantic and relevant. With an intricately woven multi-narrative script by Sara Farrington and elaborate original video score by director Reid Farrington, this new theatrical work is a transformative “making of” tribute to the movie you thought you knew. Performance runs 90 minutes. Employing simple wooden canvas flats, period costumes and 17 performers playing over two dozen characters, CasablancaBox toggles between high-tech and low-tech, transporting audiences to a bustling 1940s movie set. This backlot drama, inspired by a roving camera style, delves into myriad stories behind the iconic film Casablanca – stories of risk, sacrifice, brilliance and chance – in an exploration into the accidental nature of great art, through a contemporary lens.
What the Crtics said:
The Village Voice:
“As much a dance between the actors as between the stage performers and the precisely timed multimedia (the men and women controlling the special effects deserve curtain calls of their own), CasablancaBox is no vanilla tribute to the safest member of the American movie canon. Rather, it embodies its subject through design and theme, cramming together as much energy and detail as its running time permits, in the end mirroring Casablanca as an overfull steamer trunk forced shut under protest, ever on the point of bursting apart.”
The New York Times:
“A brave, almost foolhardy endeavor…Respect to the choreographer, Laura K. Nicoll, and stage manager, Alex B. West, for keeping the performers from colliding with one another.”
“Had the potential to become a complete disaster. To begin with, it uses sacred material (The 1942 classic film starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman) as both its inspiration and focus. Using such well-known material is tricky given the fact that comparisons to original source material and actors are often made. The play is also comprised of 16 actors, each playing a variety of roles, another ambitious endeavor that is all too often butchered. Finally, it theorizes what events happened behind the scenes of the movie’s filming, leaving audiences to question what is depicted and actual fact. In spite of this, the show surprisingly works like a well-oiled machine…Laura K. Nicoll’s choreography is another fascinating aspect here. Aside from farce, most plays have straightforward blocking. Nicoll has her cast moving in formations as complex as those in a Busby Berkeley film.”
Maxamoo Podcast (listen at 8:42):
“The play nearly bursts from trying to say and do so much, but is held together by its nimble staging conceit; as the actors, costumed almost entirely in black and white, mime the scenes behind actual film footage projected on precisely choreographed moving screens, the familiar-to-the-point-of-cliché film becomes novel once again.”
“Decidedly clever and ambitious multimedia piece, wonderfully staged…Director Farrington, who also designed the sound stage-like set and created the complex video design, does masterful work, especially as the screens always seem to be on the move. (It’s not clear where Laura K. Nicholl’s choreography begins and Farrington’s staging leaves off.) Even those who’ve never seen Casablanca will appreciate the expertise.
This Week in New York:
“Surprisingly relevant, given the current refugee crisis and the spread of hate crimes around the world. But mostly it’s a lot of fun, a creative look at an American classic.”
Times Square Chronicles:
“The craftsmanship that has gone into this multimedia production is pretty astounding all around.”
“A pretentious travesty is perpetrated on the beloved, classic movie Casablanca by this this tiresome performance art deconstruction. It survived Ted Turner’s colorization and it will survive this pointless, behind the scenes fantasy.”
Time Out New York:
“As a visual object, CasablancaBox has moments of beauty. Lighting designer Laura Mroczkowski uses blackness as well as she uses light; sound engineer Travis Wright deserves his own round of applause. Reid Farrington is a past master at projection work, and as always, it's precise and glowing.”