Excuse me, what's currently playing at Charlotte Repertory Theatre?"
"I beg your pardon! I heard that Olympia Dukakis is directing a show at Charlotte Rep."
"Yes, it opened April 29 and closes this weekend, May 10. Drop Dead!."
"Now just a second! I just wanted some information on this murder mystery-comedy thing, especially because it makes fun of actors, producers and critics." "Well, it's a farce by Billy Van Zandt and Jane Millmore, and it's all about these has-been actors who want to revive their careers by doing a potboiler murder mystery. But there's also a real murderer lurking about, making things even more complicated."
"But wasn't Master Class supposed to be at Charlotte Rep around now?"
"Yes, but that show extended its national tour, so we needed a replacement. Olympia volunteered, especially since her own daughter, Christina Zorich, has a role."
"No kidding! Who else is in it?"
"Duke Ernsberger, Rebecca Koon, Jerry Colbert, Steve Boles, Mike Collins, Randell Haynes and Katherine Harrison."
"What's Dukakis' connection to Charlotte Rep?"
"Well, Christina was in Boca here last year. Plus, her mom got to pick the show, which is a light, campy comedy."
"Sounds great! So for the last time, what's it called?"
Okay, so the above conversation is fictional, but Drop Dead! is running at Charlotte Rep's Booth Playhouse in North Carolina, Apr. 29 May 10. Among the characters are Dick Shalit (film critic Gene's "look alike brother"), Chaz Looney (a brown-nosing apprentice) and 1920s stage star Constance Crawford, who is now "senile, deaf and partially blind."
Dukakis starred In Leslie Ayvazian's Singer's Boy at San Francisco's Geary Theatre and has appeared in more than 200 productions on and off Broadway, including Bertolt Brecht's A Man's a Man and Christopher Durang's Marriage of Bette and Boo. She's best known for her Oscar winning performance in the John Patrick Shanley film, Moonstruck. As a founding member and producing artistic director of the Whole Theatre in Montclair, NJ, (1971-90), Dukakis received NJ's Walt Whitman Creative Arts Award. Dukakis is also a founding member of the theatre group, Voices of Earth, and The National Museum of Women in the Arts.
After Drop Dead!, Charlotte Rep will be dark until their next season starts up in September, though the Blumenthal Center will host such tours as Defending The Caveman (June) and Cats (July).
For tickets ($16-$23.50) and information on Drop Dead! call (704) 372-1000.
-- By David Lefkowitz