Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Vagrant at Dangerous Theater in Sanford.


The Vagrant is the little production that could. Hurricane Irma interrupted rehearsals and then Winnie Wengelwick, the theater owner, had to have oral surgery. One cast member had a family emergency and pulled out of production during the revised tech week and then another actor pulled out at the last moment. Amazingly, replacements were found within a day. The 5 week production run has had to be cut from 5 weeks to 3 weeks. The new intimate theater is continuing to take form.

I went to the production and was blown away by the play written by Brett Hursey. Lenny Madison (David Martin) is a vagrant living on the streets of the big city. He swindles hot dogs from the comically soft-hearted and easily coerced Rodney (John Sullivan) and takes care of Maggie (Winnie) the bag lady. Eventually, it becomes too difficult to hide in plain sight. 

The actor playing Lenny the vagrant did an amazing job. His roll involved acting insane while actually being incredibly intelligent. His quick-witted performance reminded me of the best parts played by the late Robin Williams. Winnie played Maggie the bag lady. She would wander onto the set while winding through the audience. She would comment on what people were wearing, breaking the 4th wall. From the stage she continued to bring the audience into the scene by trying to convince Lenny that people were watching them. She would stare out at us and say we were judging them with our laughter. And there was plenty of laughter. Lenny is a character that embraces each day and celebrates the beauty of the urban sprawl.

Lenny takes care of Maggie by getting her an extra hot dog and convincing her to take her medication. One day, two stock brokers stopped to rest on Lenny's bench. He boldly introduces himself and offered stock advice. The young male broker, John Wilson (Sean Delaney), takes the advice and on a whim decides to play them out on the market. Sure enough the leads are pure gold. The brokers return again and again to cash in on the vagrant's insights that yield huge dividends. Rachel Lamonde, (Jacqueline Papaycik) is content to leave the vagrant as is while John wants to get him set up in an apartment. He is talked out of such charitable notions. Maggie the bag lady is ignored as the vagrant plays the market with the brokers.

Both Lenny and Maggie have family they wish they cold see. Living on the streets keeps them from being close to their loved ones. John Wilson doesn't just offer the vagrant charity, he offers a chance to get back to his family. This is a heart warming show that hints at the possibility that any one of us could be just two paychecks away from having to live on the streets. The problems of this vagrant are very much like the problems we all face. In the end Lenny picks up the newspapers strewn around the stage and shoves them in a plastic milk crate and braces for a new life. Since I still live out of milk crates that scene hit rather close to home.

The final performances for this show are on Friday, October 13th and Saturday, October 14th. I highly recommend the show at Dangerous Theater (115 W. 1st St. Sanford, Florida 32771). I laughed, and yes, I damn near cried. $20.00 cash at the door on the day of the show. $5.00 discount at door for students, seniors and military. The show is free for any homeless attendee.


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