The Two and Only May Pack Its Trunks and Move to Broadway; Jay Johnson Gets Ventriloquism Award Aug. 7

News   The Two and Only May Pack Its Trunks and Move to Broadway; Jay Johnson Gets Ventriloquism Award Aug. 7 Producers of the critically-acclaimed, extended Off-Broadway theatrical event, The Two and Only, written by and starring ventriloquist Jay Johnson, are exploring taking the solo show to an intimate Broadway theatre in 2004-05.
Johnson's mentor Arthur Sieving, with Harry O'Shea
Johnson's mentor Arthur Sieving, with Harry O'Shea

"We're currently in discussions with a couple of theatres," producer and co-director Murphy Cross said in a statement.

Hailed by critics, the one-man (and many puppet) show explores the history of ventriloquism leading up to the work of Johnson, best known for playing Chuck (and Bob) on TV's "Soap."

The Two and Only celebrates its 100th performance the evening of Aug. 7. After the show, Johnson will receive the 2004 Frozen Lips Award from the Canadian Ventriloquism Association. This will be the first annual award bestowed by the Association for the Best Ventriloquist of the Year.

"This year the C.V.A. wanted to recognize Jay's one-man multicharacter show in New York because it so poignantly presents the artistry of ventriloquism for all the world to see," said C.V.A.'s Ken Adrian. "His work is not only hysterically funny, but profound and deeply moving in ways only great art may achieve..."

Indeed, audiences have laughed and cried at the intermissionless show, in which Johnson speaks movingly of his mentor, Arthur Sieving, and of traditions passed down from generation to generation. His stories about vaudeville's Sieving and wooden partner Harry O'Shea amount to an important oral history of a lost era in American entertainment. Audiences and critics have embraced The Two and Only, a special guest production at the Atlantic Theater Company. Previews began May 4. It opened May 13. The run had previously been announced to July 4, but popular demand prompted the extension.

The Two and Only stars Johnson, the imagination-rich Texas boy who went from amusement parks and one-nighters to prime time fame as the crazy brother Chuck (and his dummy sidekick Bob) on "Soap." Bob and a host of other wooden characters appear in The Two and Only.

The show is co-directed by Murphy Cross & Paul Kreppel and conceived by Johnson, Cross and Kreppel. Original music is by Michael Andreas.

The staging is produced by Roger Alan Gindi, Stewart F. Lane & Bonnie Comley, Dan Whitten, Herbert Goldsmith Productions, and WetRock Entertainment.

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Johnson is "returning the ancient craft to its rightful place as an art form," according to the announcement. In The Two and Only, "Jay Johnson hysterically deconstructs and demonstrates his lifelong obsession with ventriloquism. From the Oracle of Delphi to 'The Tonight Show,' ventriloquism has long provided insight as well as entertainment. Through the illusion of ventriloquism and his diverse array of characters, Mr. Johnson takes us on a multi-dimensional journey."

Murphy Cross and Paul Kreppel direct the piece. Designers are Beowulf Boritt (whose scenic design offers monochromatic, scattered trunks and suitcases that seem to float into the atmosphere), Clifton Taylor (lighting) and David Gotwald (sound).

Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8 PM, with a Saturday matinee at 2 PM, and Sundays at 3 and 7 PM.

Tickets are $50 and are available through www.Telecharge.com .

The Atlantic Theater Company is located at 336 West 20th Street (between Eighth and Ninth Avenues). For membership information or wheelchair seating, call (212) 645-1242, or visit www.atlantictheater.org.

Jay Johnson in <i>The Two and Only</i>
Jay Johnson in The Two and Only Photo by Carol Rosegg