Lampanelli, affectionately named the Lovable Queen of Mean, has been developing and refining the piece with Alan Zweibel over the past two years. Known for her outrageous shock-comedy, Lampanelli will take audiences on her own personal and comic journey that addresses her battle with her weight and her relationship with food.
Tony Award-winning director John Rando (Urinetown, A Christmas Story) is shepherding the project, which the collaborators are hoping will arrive on Broadway this fall depending on producers, investors and theatre availability.
New Group artistic director Scott Elliott attended an earlier workshop of the piece and invited Lampanelli and her team to test it out in front of an audience at The New Group's Off-Broadway venue, the Acorn Theatre.
The March 21-23 workshop performances reflect a new version of the piece, which Lampanelli has tentatively titled Skinny Bitch to reflect her recent weight loss. Lampanelli underwent gastric-sleeve surgery in April 2012. The New Group bills the workshop as The Untitled Lisa Lampanelli Project: This Ain't Stand-Up, Bitches! "I had lost 106 pounds and I had to completely rewrite the show," Lampanelli told Playbill.com. "I mean, I wrote it from the point of view of, 'I'm fat,' and then I had to rewrite it from the point of view: 'I used to be fat!'"
The show still retains its focus of self-image, men and food. "Your life doesn't change much, except your dress size; you still have the same problems you had before," she said of her recent weight loss. "I mean, thankfully nobody's calling you fat anymore, but they still say, 'Hey, you looked better when you were fat,' or, 'You were funnier when you were fat!' It's not a quick-fix that affects your life as much as one would think." The evening will mark a departure for Lampanelli, who is well known for her stand-up acts and razor-sharp appearances on celebrity roasts. She was candid about her own battle with weight loss and undergoing surgery. "I've had this 32-year struggle with food and my weight and I always felt like I was a thin person on the inside," she said. "I grew up thin and then blew up in college. I just thought, 90 percent of people in the U.S. struggle with some sort of food and weight issue. Since I've sort of become a spokesperson for getting surgery and doing anything it takes to make you feel good about yourself, I thought, I could put something out there that maybe resonates with people and says, 'Until you find what works for you, keep looking, keep working on it, and don't despair.'"
Lampanelli said that working on the material following her weight loss helped keep the emotional aspect of her transition in perspective. "I'm constantly working on it. I'm not going backwards, I'm too old for that crap!," she laughed.
A theatre lover herself, Lampanelli said she's dropping hints about a Rockettes finale to her show, but Rando might need some convincing. She teased, "He just sort of shook his head when I suggested it, so I'm taking that as a yes!"
Tickets for the special performances, priced $21.50, are available by visiting Telecharge.com. Visit TheNewGroup.org for information abut this special event of the not-for-profit Off-Broadway company.