David Hanbury talks Women in Crisis and new directions for Mrs. Smith

Categories: Theater
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Hot off the heels of his Guthrie Theater debut in Servant of Two Masters, playwright and actor David Hanbury's got a slew of exciting stuff in store, including the next round of the Women in Crisis Film Series at the Bryant-Lake Bowl this weekend, and the return of Mrs. Smith Live in May. Hanbury will also be launching a new Mrs. Smith concept re-imagined as a children's show to be developed at the prestigious Berkley Rep. In it, Mrs. Smith and her cat, Carlyle, travel through space.

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This Friday, the Women in Crisis Film Series will present The Landlady. The Lifetime Canada movie stars Talia Shire, known best for her roles in Rocky and The Godfather. Here, she portrays a psychotic landlady who's obsessed with one of her tenants, Patrick, played by Jack Coleman, best known as the actor who played gay Steven #2 on Dynasty (he replaced Al Corley in the part, and the change of appearance was attributed to plastic surgery the character had after an oil-rig explosion -- for you trivia buffs). Shire plays Melanie Leroy, a religious woman who murders her husband after she discovers he's having an affair. She inherits an apartment building soon after, where she murders tenants who break the rules, and uses her landlord powers to spy on Patrick. 

The body count in The Landlady is higher than any Women in Crisis Series film yet, and includes lots of externalized monologues by Shire. In case you are tempted to feel sorry for the Academy Award-nominated actress for being in such a stinker, look only to the fact that she actually produced the film, so "she's to blame for her predicament," says Hanbury.

Like past events in this series, the fun is in the audience talking back to the movie, led by Hanbury and a panel of his snarky friends. 

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The Landlady, a quality piece of cinema
Meanwhile, Hanbury is excited that he and his collaborator, Andrew Rasmussen, have been selected to be a part of a summer lab at the Ground Floor, Berkley Rep's Center for the Creation and Development of New Work. They'll be developing Mrs. Smith and Carlyle: To Mars and Back Again!, where Carlyle goes to outer space and Mrs. Smith goes after him. The two-week residency will give the team a space to work and a place to stay while they develop their show. The piece is intended to be educational, Hanbury says, exploring the solar system and the moon and such, but it will also have all the Mrs. Smith ridiculousness that fans are used to. "Andrew and I have very clear ideas about what this show could be," he says. "We're excited about it." 

It's particularly exiting because Berkley Rep has been a launching pad for Broadway shows, such as American Idiot. Hanbury hopes that the Mrs. Smith children's show can be presented at regional children's theaters around the country. 

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David Hanbury
While Mrs. Smith started as a concept for adults, he thinks the character is great for a children's audience, too. In fact, his nephews, who enjoyed the story around the ages three and eight, were completely transfixed by the tales of Mrs. Smith and Carlyle. Not a lot needs to be changed from the original show, either. "I don't do blue humor,"  Hanbury says.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Smith Live (for adults) returns to the Twin Cities May 9-19 for a run at Camp Bar. It's the show's first gig at Camp, which should work great, as people can socialize, drink, and dance afterwards at the bar. Hanbury and Rasmussen launched Mrs. Smith Live last May, but had to cancel a bunch of shows because Hanbury got injured. The production is a "snazzy jazzy evening of stories and songs," Hanbury says, a la Liza with a Z or Elaine Stritch's At Liberty. She basically tells her life story using the great American songbook as her soundtrack, with lots of dancing and other characters (and puppets!) to help the story along. 

While Hanbury has incorporated music into his Mrs. Smith act for a while, he realized when he started working on Mrs. Smith Live that "she's the perfect fit for classic Broadway songs," he says. 

IF YOU GO:

The Women in Crisis Film Series Presents The Landlady
10 p.m. Friday, April 5
$7-10 sliding scale. 
Bryant-Lake Bowl Theatre

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Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater

810 W. Lake St., Minneapolis, MN

Category: Film

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