Nicolet Players to present Rocket Man
The Nicolet Players are expanding their comedic and dramatic skills with their newest production, Rocket Man, by Steven Dietz.
“I was looking for something different to counterbalance the more mainstream play we’ll be doing in the spring,” explained Nicolet Theatre Director Jim Nuttall, referring to the troupe’s May production of Harvey. “I discovered that Steven Dietz is one of the most-produced playwrights among the country’s leading regional theatres, yet he’s virtually unknown to Broadway. His plays are less commercial in style. They’re loved by audiences for their wit and more serious subject matter.”
Rocket Man is an off-beat look at life’s “what-ifs.” What if we could arrange to find ourselves in a parallel universe, where we could play out our lives in a slightly different fashion, making different choices and experiencing different consequences? Donny, the play’s main character, yearns for such a world that allows him to pursue “the road not taken.”
“The first act of Rocket Man is pretty straightforward,” Nuttall said. “In the second act, things blow wide apart. It starts out as a simple comedy, but then the play turns everything upside down, like an episode of The Twilight Zone.”
Each of the cast’s five actors, Nuttall said, “is challenged to explore the subtext of their character. There’s a lot going on underneath the surface.”
Chris Bruso, in the lead role of Donny, agreed. “I’m having to do a lot of mental preparation outside of rehearsal,” he said. “I’ve been in two comedies with the Nicolet Players, but never in the lead. This is the most serious role I’ve ever undertaken.”
Bruso believes the audience will connect to Donny’s situation. “Everyone has gone through a difficult time in their life having to do with work or family,” he said. “What sets Donny apart is the way he chooses to deal with his crisis.”
Joining Bruso on the cast are Tony Jones, Maggie Monte, Patricia Hilliard and Lisa R. Johnson.
Performances of Rocket Man take place Friday and Saturday, Nov. 4 and 5, at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 6, at 2 p.m.; Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 10, 11 and 12, at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 13, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $8 for general public, $6 for students and seniors, and can be purchased in advance online at nicoletlive.com, or by calling the box office at (715) 365-4646 or (800) 544-3039, ext. 4646.