How I Broke Into Showbiz
Review by Carol Little
Written by Montreal native Lorne Elliott and performed by Prince Edward Island actress Laurie Murphy, How I Broke Into Showbiz premiered at City Cinema in Charlottetown. Elliott wrote the play specifically with Murphy in mind because of her well-known stage presence and ability.
The play is a one-woman show about theatre life and theatre personalities with Laurie Murphy performing the multiple intertwining roles with seasoned versatility. Despite the relative lack of usage of props and the absence of additional actors, Murphy kept the audience’s interest from the moment she walked onto stage apologizing and announcing that “there’s not going to be a show tonight” with her comedic portrayal of stage life, high maintenance actors and backstage antics.
Murphy continually displayed her versatile acting skills playing the main role of a befuddled, overworked, frustrated replacement stage manager, as well as supporting roles including a crew of pompous, egotistical and drug addicted actors and the original stage manager who had a nervous breakdown and is in the “looney bin” since working with this particular troupe of actors.
Murphy easily made use of the relatively small stage area in City Cinema that is normally used as a film screening venue. The play had a universal appeal akin to reading a gossip column depicting the lives of celebrities, and the audience, which was mostly made up of actors and theatre enthusiasts, gave the performance a positive reception.
How I Broke Into Showbiz was a “read play,” in which Murphy carried and read notes from a spiral bound notebook, moving seamlessly from one character portrayal to another without fumbling over the written words or the dramatic characterization changes. Murphy said of the unconventional format after the show “I thought it would be easier to do a read play, but it was actually harder.”
Lorne Elliott stated that the goal of the Charlottetown performances was to “see if an audience wants to spend time with the characters.” He described the enthusiastic Charlottetown audience as similar to a test subject, hoping to gain the appropriate feedback from their response as to what works and what doesn’t work in the context of the play and to use this information to do some “nipping and tucking” until the performance meets both his and the audience’s approval. Once refined, Elliott intends to try the play in larger cities.
Lorne Elliott is a highly celebrated Canadian comedian, actor, playwright and director who has produced multiple plays in Prince Edward Island and is well known as the host of his own CBC radio comedy series Madly Off In All Directions for the past 10 seasons.
Laurie Murphy is a poet, actor, comedian, singer and producer of theatre based productions including the outdoor Shakespeare Play in the Park Inc.
City Cinema is a gem of a theatre that plays a rare variety of films including classics, foreign titles, animé and other non-mainstream features that is tucked away at 64 King Street in Charlottetown.