Dead Man’s Cell Phone by Sarah Ruhl was our second show of our second season (Nov 6-21, 2015). We thought our final performance was going to be a bust as it was the year’s first snow storm, but finally a few audience members showed up, and we performed for 7 people – our smallest audience EVER at Open Book (but still more people than we had on stage!)
The titular cell phone prop was Dani Cochrane’s actual cell phone, and it would ring when director Topher called it. Dani set it so that it only received calls from him. Except that on opening night the calls in first scene kept getting delayed because so many people were wishing Dani “break a leg” on her opening that it was interfering with the calls!
Anyone who saw the show remembers the slow motion fight between Jean (Dani Cochrane) and the The Other Woman (Kaitlyn Valor Borque). Dani says “The whole slow motion fight is still one of my most favorite things I’ve ever choreographed.” It started with an exaggerated application of lip stick/lip gloss, and went on from there. It’s a shame we don’t have a video of it!
Some other great memories:
My terrific fellow cast mates who made this odd surreal story come to life: Melissa Beckwith’s face at the funeral, Richard Payton and Dani Cochrane’s romance that defied logic but still made sense, the dinner party with the deadly knife, and my nightly opportunity to emit a blood curdling scream as I was immolated. – Connie Cowper (Mrs. Gottleib)
I will never forget the moment in rehearsal when Connie found the horrifying scream as she was supposed to be burning to death. It was so hysterically funny, that I could not hold it together. And once we were in performances, I had to fight oh so very hard to keep from laughing. I’m not sure I ever succeeded, because it never got any less outrageous. I also loved that weird cell phone/umbrella dance number. Such a bizarre show, but so interesting and fun to work on. – Richard Payton (Dwight)
I loved the cell phone ballet! And I also will always remember Dani calling Richard the wrong name! ” – Topher Payne, Director
I made two interesting paper mache props this show… an enormously large and “bloody” hunk of meat, and a working kidney shaped lamp (the lamp is on a shelf in my office, although it no longer works) – Krista Schafer Ewbank, producer
I remember shoving a ton of popcorn in my mouth to make Richard laugh and then him catching on to the bit and letting me put more and more in until we both broke. . – Dani Cochrane (Jean)
Directed by Topher Alan Payne. Featuring Melissa Beckwith as Hermia, Dani Cochrane as Jean, Connie Cowper as Mrs. Gottleib, Ryan Ernst as Gordon, Richard Payton as Dwight and Kaitlyn Valor as Stranger/Other Woman. Set design by Topher Alan Payne and Krista Schafer Ewbank. Lighting design by Harley Miah.