The Orange Person

The Orange Person

Author: Brian Rady, Jeremy Bloom and Laura Dunn

Description: At last, the story of The Orange Person, told from the perspective of the people who actually experienced it - a celebration of existence, of difference, and of song. From within both sides of a duplex in Terlingua, a rural town in the south Texan desert, a family confronts a medical marvel: an orange baby is born.
Year Written/Copyrighted: 2011
Date Added: 9/6/2012
Content Advisory: NA
Keywords: Characters are Mostly Children/Students · Characters are Mostly Young Adults · Civil Rights · Dysfunctional Families · Families · Fantasy · Folklore and Legends · Large Cast Size · Musical · Pop Culture · Rock and Roll · Single Set · Social Issues · Westerns
This play is in the following collections: Planet Connections 2011
1 Act, 70 Minutes
5 Females, 5 Males
Read an excerpt

NOTE: The Orange Person is fully protected by copyright law and is subject to royalty. All inquiries concerning production, publication, reprinting or use of this play in any form should be addressed to radyandbloom@gmail.com.

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From the Author:

If nothing else, The Orange Person is a celebration of individuality and identity, and not just of The Orange Person himself, but of each character within the mysterious small town that we created for this piece. Each performer should be as different as possible in terms of background, age, look and feel. This piece was developed with the cast in a very supportive and teamwork-type-of-atmosphere and the story and the performances should reflect this. Even though the "other" (Sam, the orange person) runs away, he does so willingly, he reflects fondly—and the entire mythic town of Terlingua is ultimately a strange and grand system of love and support that reaches across time and space.


Original Production Information

The Orange Person was originally presented by Rady&Bloom Collective Playmaking at the Gene Frankel Theater, New York City, supported by the first Planet Connections Artist Grant award, with the following cast and credits:

Robert Lavenstein (San Antonio)
Jose Paz (Billy)
Joe White (Dink/ Electric Guitar)
Ellen O'Meara (Chick O'Reilly/ Flute/ Glockenspiel)
Ashley Biel (Amy)
Catherine Brookman (Jan) Dana Kaplan-Angle (Trudy)
Madalyn McKay (Aunt Joan)
Kirk Siee (Rodge)
Brian Rady (Sam, the orange person)

Directed by Jeremy Bloom
With designs by Chris Morris (set), Olga Mill (costumes), and Christopher Weston (lighting)
Stage managed by Erika Bracy


ITN Review by Martin Denton

There's something quintessentially American about The Orange Person, a celebration of individuality, small town life, and joyful story-telling created by Jeremy Bloom, Laura Dunn, and Brian Rady. Structurally it reminded me a lot of Once (which it pre-dates, by the way), using a gathering of minstrels and musicians as a framework to unfold its imaginative, singular story: the simple informality of the piece reinforces its themes and never feels false or ingenuous or precious. Bloom, who directs, informs us at the beginning that the company is doing this show for fun, and there was never a moment when I doubted him. (Though it's to be hoped that this remarkable work can bring these artists some more tangible rewards as well!)

The story is about a boy, Sam, whose skin is a bright, glowing orange. This is how he has always been, since birth, though no one knows why. He grows up in a remote West Texas town in a desert whose sunbaked landscape provides a kind of camouflage; but his otherness is always (literally) right on the surface. His mother, Jan, saves up all the money she can to pay for an operation that may make him "normal." His Aunt Joan, who owns the house where he and his family live, urges him to stay indoors until he's "cured." A nosy neighbor kid, Billy, stares at him through his binoculars (which he also uses to spy on a trio of sunbathing sisters).

Sam's tale could easily devolve into heavy-handed sermonizing or allegory, but Bloom, Dunn, and Rady never take it in either of those directions. Instead, they place Sam at the center of a larger story about the whole town and its mythic way of life. Most of the story is told in song—country-inflected ballads with titles like "The Land of What Can't Be Explained," "Pumpkin Pie," and "In the Desert Night" that capture the characters' feelings and the Texas landscape with lyrical beauty and poetic precision.

Bloom's direction is masterful and filled with lovely imagery; he keeps the piece fluid and dynamic while letting the music breathe and dominate as it must. Several of the performers double as singers and musicians: co-authors Rady (as Sam) and Dunn (who plays Sam's friend Kay) play guitar and banjo, respectively; Kirk Siee (bass), Joe White (electric guitar), and Ellen O'Meara (flute, gloc) have smaller roles while anchoring the onstage band. Ashley Biel, Dana Kaplan-Angle, and Robert Gadol Lavenstein play important people in Sam's life. Madalyn McKay and Jose Paz are delightfully ingratiating and lively as Aunt Joan and Billy. Catherine Brookman is appropriately ephemeral as Jan, who dies while Sam is still a boy.

The Orange Person is joyous and touching and full of life, love, and hope. It's very much the kind of show Americans need these days to remind us who we are and what we value. Even though the denizens of this show are sometimes small-minded and backward, the way they care for one another and help one another feels grand. And the infectious high spirits that this company brings to sharing this story with their audience are downright inspirational.

review of the 2012 New York City production


ITN Review by Martin Denton

Leah in Vegas is one of the most satisfying new American plays I've seen all year: it's a truly compelling story told with humor, maturity, intelligence, and heart. It should be one of FringeNYC '14's biggest hits.

Leah is a woman in her late 20s who has just been released from a nine-month stint in prison. She returns to her family home in Northern California, which is now occupied only by her mother, her father having died a few years back. She hasn't been here in a decade; she left right after high school, with sweetheart Jonathan (who became her husband), and went on to a new life in Los Angeles.

The reunion between Leah and her mom, Mary Anne, is uncomfortable to say the least. Playwright Kara Ayn Napolitano handles this scene with humor leavened with authenticity, letting us into a situation that is almost certainly foreign to most of us (how many in the audience have a grown child who served time in prison and is now coming home, at least in part because that's a condition of her parole?). This balance is maintained throughout the play, as the stakes get higher and the circumstances become somewhat more outrageous, Napolitano never goes broad, never demeans or pokes fun at any of her characters, even when they make choices that are easy to second guess. She respects their humanity, and as a result, so do we.

The first night back home, Mary Anne invites Leah's former best friend Brenda to dinner, and the two younger women eventually start to bond once again. This leads to the play's main throughline, alluded to in the title -- Brenda and Leah head off to Vegas, and adventure.

A lot is revealed about all the characters as the play moves roaringly toward its conclusion, including some of the information we're expecting and quite a bit that's surprising. It all feels real, and the play's climax and then denouement feel both earned and rewarding. We come to care about these three women, and to understand how each of them got to the place they are. And we root for them to move ahead in their lives.

Kristin Skye Hoffmann's direction of Leah in Vegas is exemplary, with nary a wasted moment. The cast of four is outstanding. Jenna D'Angelo in the title role is completely sympathetic despite her character's tendency to rashness; Leslie Marseglia's Brenda is fully fleshed out when she could simply be comic relief. Samantha Cooper plays two smaller roles with great skill. Victoria Bundonis is nothing short of revelatory as Mary Anne; again, this woman could just be a figure of fun, but the actress, writer, and director won't allow that--in a way, Mary Anne is almost a second protagonist of this play.

I loved Leah in Vegas because it treats its characters and its story--and its audience--as grown-ups; there is, for example, a terrific moment where Leah tells Brenda that prison isn't fun--it's not TV, she says, it's lonely and it's boring.

And one more thing for those interested in gender parity: kudos to this almost entirely female production team! Napolitano has written four excellent roles for actresses here, and her collaborators have brought them to life brilliantly. I hope many more women will get to tackle these characters in the future. For now, enjoy the great work being done by this cast and crew at FringeNYC.

(Aug 17, 2014)