Americaland! Mee's Paradise Park Opens March 2

News   Americaland! Mee's Paradise Park Opens March 2 The gates of an amusement park swing wide to reveal America itself in the world premiere of Charles Mee's Paradise Park, opening March 2 at Signature Theatre Company's Off-Broadway home.
Veanne Cox in Paradise Park.
Veanne Cox in Paradise Park. Photo by Carol Rosegg

The play by 2007-08 Signature playwright-in-residence Mee is set in an American amusement park of the imagination, represented (in director Daniel Fish's production) by what looks to be a wide suburban "rec room" (complete with drop ceiling and recessed lights) cluttered with a cotton candy machine, garish colored lights, an inflatable castle for jumping, a derelict bumper car, rows of stuffed animals (the sort you get as prizes at a carnival), and a giant slingshot for the purpose of throwing fruitcakes across the expanse of the stage. Film projections expand the world further. Exploring the themes of amusement, escape, family, love and menace, the dense and chaotic piece uses borrowed texts and pop songs to tell its story.

(The text is available at www.charlesmee.com.)

Previews began Feb. 14 at the Peter Norton Space on West 42nd Street.

Mee (Iphigenia 2.0, Big Love, True Love) is known for constructing texts by drawing on many sources, often creating theatrically complex collages. According to Signature notes, Paradise Park is "an amusement park that opens up into all of America and beyond. Meet the inhabitants of this bizarre carnival of life, including a ventriloquist, his dummy, and a teenage girl on the run. From Futureworld to Londonland, the Grand Canyon to Fred's Polynesian Dive Shop, step right up to this wild ride of fruit cake tosses, underwater ballets, square dances, and star gazing, too."

* Paradise Park, produced in association with True Love Productions, is directed by Daniel Fish (Mee's True Love at the Zipper), with choreography by Peter Pucci. Performances continue to April 6.

The cast includes Vanessa Aspillaga (Anna in the Tropics), Satya Bhabha (Queens Boulevard (the musical)), Veanne Cox (Caroline, or Change; The Dinner Party), Gian-Murray Gianino (Eurydice), William Jackson Harper (Queens Boulevard (the musical)), Christopher McCann (True Love), Paul Mullins (The Torch-Bearers), Alan Semok (The Brothers Karamazov) and Laurie Williams (True Love).

Paradise Park features music direction and arrangements by Bill Schimmel, scenic design by David Zinn, costume design by Kaye Voyce, lighting design by Mark Barton, sound design by Elizabeth Rhodes and video design by Joshua Thorson.

This marks Signature's third production with Mee this season. Iphigenia 2.0 had its New York premiere in fall 2007, and most recently, Signature presented the world premiere of Mee's Queens Boulevard (the musical).

Peter Norton Space is located at 555 West 42nd Street (between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues).

Visit www.signaturetheatre.org for more information.

The cast of <i>Paradise Park</i>.
The cast of Paradise Park. Photo by Carol Rosegg
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