Curses, roled again
By KAREN SHADE, 9/14/2007
New play written specifically for actor Lonnie Iannazzo
Lonnie Iannazzo doesn't sound as if he's suffering any delusions, despite the fact that the young acting hopeful has already turned muse.
But then, "The Grimsby Curse" is its own haunt. Iannazzo just considers himself fortunate as he prepares to tackle eight characters in the new play penned just for him.
"It's a huge honor," he said by phone, having just finished a class at the University of Science and Arts in Chickasha. "I would've loved being part of this whether the play was written for me or not."
"The Grimsby Curse" opens at the Nightingale Theater Friday night and plays for two more shows Saturday before it travels to Oklahoma City and is shown at the IAO Gallery there next weekend.
Iannazzo will play Theodore Grimsby, a teenager who discovers a deadly curse has haunted his family for many generations and that it will catch up with him soon if he doesn't break it. To do this, he traces his family tree back through letters, newspapers and family photos through all the past Theodores Grimsby to discover an answer.
He'll play all the Grimsby boys – just the challenge Iannazzo was looking for in this new work from Robert Matson of Oklahoma City.
"One thing Lonnie wanted was he want to show he can create some wonderful characters," to show both his comic and tragic sides, said Matson, who also directs the play.
Last summer, Iannazzo was one of 12 actors participating in a Web play-reality- Internet competition called "Cast Me!" from Matson's Web Play Studios. Viewers watched each actor perform on the Internet and voted on who they thought deserved to the winning prizes. One of those prizes was a play written especially for the winner.
Iannazzo, a Tulsa native, has been collaborating with Matson over the last year on the mysterious, "Grimsby Curse" offering his ideas.
They found they wanted to emphasize the play's "creepy, dark" air rather than the comedy aspect, but Iannazzo also insisted that the play be for an ensemble cast.
"He wanted to work with other people. He didn't want it just to be about him. He wanted to share the stage and awards with everybody else," Matson said.
Tailoring a play for a specific person, no doubt, has it challenges, Matson said, but, in a way, it was also easier.
"You know who you're writing for, and you know what they're capable of and where they can be pushed even more as an actor. The hardest part was making it work for him," Matson said. Iannazzo considers himself pushed.
"There's nothing cookiecutter about it," he said.
"It's something challenging, something new and fresh."
THE GRIMSBY CURSE
When: 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Nightingale Theater, 1416 E. Fourth St.
Tickets: $7-$10, at 633-8666.