Monday, November 16, 2015

A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screeplay about the Death of Walt Disney.

 I went to a rehearsal for A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay about the Death of Walt Disney written by Lucas Hnath who once lived in Orlando. John DiDonna plays the part of Walt Disney and the rehearsal was in the living room of his South Sanford home.

Cut to. . . A dark Prius arriving on a suburban street at night. The headlights cut off.
Cut to... An artist searching for house numbers illuminating mailboxes with an iPhone.
Cut to... An artist noticing a white car that is empty but has the interior light on. "This must be an actors car." he thinks.  
Cut To... A house with four or five cars parked in the driveway.
The camera dollies into the scene following the artist who enters the front door without knocking.

I'm late. John DiDonna is well into the script  that he as Walt wrote. It’s about his last days on earth. It’s about a city he’s going to build that’s going to change the world. And it’s about his brother. It’s about everyone who loves him so much, and it’s about how sad they’re going to be when he’s gone. Right? I mean, how can they live without him? 

The play reminded me often of the Film "Citizen Kane". It is about a giant public figure the demands the love of the public, but can not find true love in his own family.   Walt doesn't even refer to his wife or daughter, played by Jenny Ornstein, by name. He is however very sure everyone should know his name.

Ron Miller, Adam Del Medico, Disney's brother in law is a bit of a  sycophant who adores Walt. He is the only member of the family who feels that way.  But Ron is a jock and represents everything that Walt despises. 

Cut to... A meeting between Walt and Roy, Tommy Keesling, about the city of the future that Walt wants to build in Orlando. Roy explains that if the project is considered a township, then they have free reign to build what they want. Finally Walt will have a fiefdom that he is the supreme dictator of. He just has to live long enough to see it become a reality. Roy and the Disney board however see this project as just another theme park. 

Walt's fast fading health is covered in a quick series of snippets of conversation with his daughter. It becomes clear that his vision will never become a reality. His strength and domineering will can't put off the inevitable. Dreams of returning from a frozen stasis trigger rumors that exist to this day that Walt's brain is preserved in Cinderella's Castle running the huge theme part complex. This is an incredibly insightful and irreverent look at Walt's final days. The humor and humanity creep up on you and take you by surprise. The show flows at a breakneck pace and the audience has to keep up with Walt's furious pace.

When: Four Performances Only. November 20 – 23, 2015. Friday, Saturday and Monday 8:00 pm Sun 3:00 pm. Join cast members for a chat back immediately following the Sunday matinee. 

Lowndes Shakespeare Center Dr. Phillips Patron's Room 812 E. Rollins St., Orlando, FL,

Tickets: $10 advance (Paypal) $15 day of the show.  For tickets and information, email

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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