The show and I were both geeks at first – I in that sad way that kept me single well into my twenties and the show with its first title, “Renaissance Geek”. We produced it on half a shoestring in 1999 at the Gascon Center Theatre in Los Angeles, where my friend and director Bill Penton was General Manager.
With the help of producer Denis McCallion, we planned a four-week run, going up Tuesday and Wednesday nights on another show’s set, and adapting blocking for their existing lighting. The result?
We were named Pick of the Week in the LA Weekly, and nominated for two LA Weekly Awards – Best Solo Performance of the Year and a Best Director nod for Bill Penton.
The response was phenomenal. After our initial eight performances, we moved the show to the Zephyr Theater in Los Angeles, for an additional 2-month run (closing only due to an existing booking at the theater). Who knew the world was full of men who knew the difference between eggshell and ecru? Not to mention all the women who love them.
In the fall of 2000 we formed Renaissance Geek Productions and mounted a full-scale production at the Tamarind Theatre in Los Angeles. Once again, the show was a tremendous success, with incredible audience response and great notices from all the major LA publications, trade and otherwise. Even the press appeared to be closeted Geeks.
An expanded version of the show was renamed “Straight Up with a Twist” and in the summer of 2001 we were asked to perform at the Grove Theater Center’s Gem Theatre, in Garden Grove, California. The response surpassed all previous productions, culminating in an Orange County Weekly Theatre Award, and being named one of the Top Ten Theater Events of 2001 by the Orange County Register. We were delighted to share the honors with such prestigious theaters as The Ahmanson, The Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Repertory and The La Jolla Playhouse.
We’ve been going ever since. Our travels have taken us back East to the Ridgefield Playhouse and the Curtain Call Theater in Stamford, CT, then the The Lakeshore Theater in Chicago and The Crossroads Theater in Naperville, Illinois. Recently we returned for encore performances in Burbank and Culver City, California – all of this culminating with a twice-extended Off Broadway at The Player’s Theatre in New York City.
In addition, the show has been filmed by Hurricane Entertainment and Preston Development Partners as a one hour comedy special for television.
It’s been quite a trip, thanks to all who’ve joined me on the journey.