Rose Desena Interviews Jeff Perry

This Week In Theatre 


                                An interview with Jeff Perry



Jeff PerryA few years ago during one of my trips to NYC, I stumbled upon a show that was just opening that very night. The ticket was way over my budget but the only two cast members were Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig.


Honestly, to see those two men on stage, I would have sold my shoes. I buy really nice shoes! I knew very little about the play, other than it had had a great run in Chicago.  I figured it didn’t matter, because I would just stare at the stage and write my own play in my head if I didn’t like what was going on. I mean Jackman and Craig, what else do you need?


When I walked into the theater, I was surprised. The stage was barren. I mean, 160 bucks a ticket and no stage set. However the minute the play started, until the very end, I hung onto every word, as if it was all that mattered. The script by Keith Huff was so powerful I was afraid to blink for fear I would miss something.


Two emotionally distraught cops struggle to cope with a mistake that turned deadly. As they go into detail about the case, someone has to take responsibility.  It’s an incredible tale.


The play went on in NYC for 12 weeks and was the highest grossing non-musical play that ever ran on Broadway. I was so pleased that I had the opportunity to see it.


I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t being produced here in Los Angeles, and when I found out the Odyssey was doing it I was elated. I am an Odyssey fan, and I know they will do it justice. To make it even better it’s going to be directed by actor Jeff Perry.  I was curious about a few things, so I put together a little Q and A with Mr. Perry.


Rose: Hi Jeff. I am a big fan of yours, and I love the play. Did you see it in NY?


Jeff: I did, and I loved it. Now, working in the beautiful intimate space of the Odyssey, I can explore the audience as the third character. It’s magical in this smaller space. The Odyssey is a great place for this play.


Rose:  I know your career was born in Chicago. How did it come about that you’re directing a play that was also born in that great theater city?


Jeff: Keith’s career and mine were running parallel. Back in Chicago the acting community is small. We both adore storytelling. Over the past 6 weeks I have gotten to know him, and I really appreciate him as a writer and understand what he has done with A Steady Rain.  He broke the cardinal rule of playwriting — he tells the story rather then showing the story. Keith was inspired by Langford Williams’ play Balm In Gilead, in which the audience became part of a 20-minute monologue that was done by Laurie Metcalf and just blew everyone away.


Rose:  I don’t want you to give too much away, but how will it differ from the production in NY?


Jeff: We keep the house lights up so we can see each other and have contact with the audience. We want the audience to feel the story, These 2 childhood friends who were cops together on the mean streets of Chicago open their hearts and bare their souls, their emotions pouring out as they tell what happened that summer that changed their lives.


Rose: What were you looking for when you picked Thomas Vincent Kelly and Sal Viscuso? By the way, they’re very sexy, from their pictures anyway.


Jeff: I know Sal’s acting abilities because I have watched him in my class. I had faith in the fact that he could be very convincing in his part.  He brought me Tom, and I am grateful. They are absolutely perfect together. Tom is from Chicago and has cops in his family. The character is in his blood. Both of them have embraced what I wanted to achieve with my directing.


Rose: I feel like we are friends now, so I am comfortable speaking to you about Olivia Pope, your co-star on Scandal. Be careful: “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” I am a little worried about you.


Jeff: You’re right, you don’t want to cross Olivia Pope, but there is a compassionate side to her, thank God or Cyrus would be in some deep Dutch.


Rose: Well, Jeff I have taken a lot of your time. Is there anything else you would like to add about the show that my readers might be interested in knowing?


Jeff: If you’re a lover of authentic heart-moving storytelling with remarkable power that’s beautifully presented – like a classic novel – then this is for you.  I suggest you get your tickets early. It’s going to sell out.  I have really enjoyed directing Huff’s work, and being here at the Odyssey. It’s a wonderful experience.


Rose: Thanks Again, I will be at opening night, and needless to say I am very excited.


Below are the details for the show.  I am sure it will be done well and it’s a fantastic play. The best part is you get to see it for $25 to $30. That beats selling your shoes.


A Steady Rain_ART-med


Opens: February 22, runs until April 20.

Odyssey Theater, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd. LA, 90025


  Phone: 310 477 2055





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