Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Incredible Undersea Trial of Joseph P. Lawnboy

Tacoma Little Theatre is doing Bryan Willis's amazing ecological musical fantasy (yes, I borrowed that phrase from the press release) "The Incredible Undersea Trial of Joseph P. Lawnboy."

I remember the first time I saw this play. It was a special Olympia Arts Walk presentation in the back room of an art gallery with the audience standing around in a circle and the performance in the middle. As well as I can remember, it was a non-musical production. I was amazed. I'd never seen anything like it. It dealt with critical ecological issues in a fantasy format. It was delightfully entertaining and highly innovative.

Undersea creatures put a young boy, Joseph P. Lawnboy, on trial for “crimes against the sea.” The audience becomes the jury and decides on Joe’s guilt or innocence.

It was written by Olympia’s Bryan Willis, with lyrics by Scott Whitney and music by Bruce Whitney. "Lawnboy" premiered with Olympia’s Harlequin Productions and ran for 99 performances during a two-year tour. It was subsequently staged over 500 times by various theaters including Seattle Public Theater, One World Theater (Seattle), Second Stage (Chicago) and schools in the Northwest.

Willis founded Northwest Playwrights Alliance, which has a long history of nurturing area playwrights. Area readers will recall that they used to present readings of new plays in the back room of Plenty Restaurant (now Cascadia Grill) in Olympia, and later moved to the Broadway Center in Tacoma, and then to Seattle Repertory Theatre.

The TLT production is directed by TLT Managing Artistic Director, Scott Campbell, and features Jerod Nace as Lawnboy, Darrel Shepherd as Fred the deep diving loon, Caresse Robertson as Greta the Fish, Betzy Miller at Darlene the mayfly larvae, and David Robertson as the Narrator.

March 5-14, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 PM and Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 PM
Tickets are $15.00 each or $10.00 each when buying three or more. Call the TLT Box Office at 253-272-2281 to purchase tickets or reserve your seats online at

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