Scripts & Shows
 
Ronnie Larsen is an actor-director-playwright-producer whose work has been seen in every major city in America, as well as in Canada, Australia, Italy and London. Twelve of his plays have been produced and five have been seen Off-Broadway in New York City. He has also made a documentary that had theatrical runs at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, Cinema Village in New York City and the Laemmle 5 in Los Angeles as well as showings at numerous film festivals in America, England and the Berlin Film Festival. Welcome to RonnieLarsen.com
 

Projects Created by Ronnie Larsen

 Projects Produced by Ronnie Larsen

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Now & Then review

NOW & THEN PROUDLY AFFIRMS GAY ROMANCE IS LIKE ANY OTHER

 

Now & Then, a world premiere musical in Wilton Manors, is a quiet gentle love story told with an inventive twist. But it’s a tale tracing the episodes of an arc so familiar that it might flirt with being boring — except for three redeeming aspects.

First, the central couple’s relationship spanning 43 years is told by three sets of paired actors often sharing the stage at the same time, each pair’s status an indirect comment on each other.

Second, the folky-country score by Dennis Manning is heartfelt, lyrical, often touching – and played live on guitars by Manning and two other actors.

And third, and most telling, the couple is gay. So the subtext — and it never seems paternalistic – is that homosexual love, true love, is no different than heterosexual love with its rough patches and conquering joys. This isn’t an earth-shaking revelation to most straight audiences (La Cage aux Folles is playing at Broward Stage Door this month). But for gay audiences, it must be a kind of a “finally” moment seeing this truth validated by being simply and honestly portrayed on stage in depth — the polar opposite of life depicted in The Boys in the Band.

This comes most clear when each of the three couples is kissing. Directed by bookwriter Ronnie Larsen, these frequent scenes are not meant to be daring, titillating, lustful, funny or exploitative. They are just poignant expressions of tender affection lasting a few seconds, as opposed to those pecks on the mouth or marathon clinches seen in many plays that self-congratulatorily trumpet that two men are kissing before your very eyes! These people love each other and it’s as simple as that.

The plot follows model-worthy Daniel #1 (Cody Jenkins), a former seminary student and would-be country music star, playing at a college open mic night. Daniel is hit on and succumbs to the uninhibitedly extravagant emcee and would-be comic Greg #1 (Conor Walton). The quirky likable odd couple fall deeply in love. Daniel plays his sensitive evocative compositions for Greg, and Greg sings impassioned internal monologues revealing more depth than his playful exterior would indicate.

Soon after, the musical moves on to the same couple in early middle-age after they have lived together for years and their dreams have stalled. Daniel #2 (Matt McClure) is frustrated selling mattresses while still hoping for a break in Nashville, and Greg #2 (Tim Evanicki) has become a pragmatic low-level bank employee.  Daniel has become an emotionally-shuttered alcoholic as Greg tries to get his love to reinvigorate their struggling relationship regardless of whether he has a music career.

Finally, we meet 62-year-old Daniel #3 (composer Manning) who has been providing steady background music since the opening scene while compassionately watching the proceedings from a perch at the top of the set. Greg #3 (Ansel Robin Thompson) is in remission from cancer. He does not share Daniel’s optimism that he will live long but he urges Daniel to buy a waterside condo. There is little doubt how their facet will play out.

It doesn’t matter how autobiographical this work may or may not be for the real Daniel Manning, although naming the central character after himself certainly raises that question. Indeed, the concept for the show is Larsen’s based on Manning’s music.

Because the universal aspects of any long-term relationship are ticked off one by one with no special insight, the show does drag on a bit. Larsen’s dialogue also contains more than its share of well-worn homilies, bromides and clichés that some skilled actors deliver with conviction and others cannot rescue with their amateur theater delivery. And we know how the middle section will turn out because we can already see the older couple still intact.

On the other hand, director Larsen stages bookwriter Larsen’s concept deftly and inventively by visually, aurally and dramatically juxtaposing these couples. When the #2 couple going through an especially tough period, we can see the younger couple deep in the glory of new-found love and the older couple caressing each other as an affirmation of a life shared together. At one point, the three Daniels advise each other, and in another, the three Gregs face mortality holding hands. In another, the younger and older couple happily trim the same Christmas tree while the middle couple quarrels during “the worst Christmas ever.” These conceits don’t always land solidly; some seem a bit forced. But when they do work, Now & Then tugs at the heartstrings.

The most consistent virtue is Manning’s heartfelt music, which gloriously meanders in a fusion of several genres. Without intentionally emulating them, it echoes early Indigo Girls, Joni Mitchell, coffeehouse folk and a hint of Grand Ol’ Opry, notable for rippling cascades of finger-picked notes along with strummed background chords that add strength and palpable dimension. Most of the songs are riffs on declarations of love. The lyrics sometimes read like a Hallmark card, especially reviewed on dry paper. Yet, partnered with the music and the performances, their sincerity cannot be mocked or challenged.

Early on, Daniel croons,
“I sing a tune
To the sound of your name
You are a long, stem, red rose
A glass of champagne
The tide
As it ebbs and flows
On the shoreline
Of my heart
You are a long, stem, red rose
And the fragrant autumn air
I long to lay beside you.”

Not that it matters, but it’s never clear whether everything are memories of Daniel #3, or whether all three eras are occurring simultaneously akin to New City Players’ Constellations, or whether divisions of time and space evaporate into meaninglessness. But the youngest couple talk about Beyonce and Greg carries a box bearing the words Amazon Prime, so there is some confusion.

Further, theater audiences are supposed to indulge artists by cutting them some slack in suspension of disbelief. But the performers playing the same role look very little like each other, don’t sound similar and are not strong enough actors to copy each other’s personas or mannerisms.

Still, the cast is undeniably engaging. Some have evocative voices like Walton, Jenkins and Evanicki (whose solos are deeply affecting). The others are perfectly serviceable, although almost everyone but Walton misses notes from time to time, some more often than others. The Daniels’ guitar playing is deft, especially Manning’s work on the 12-string.

The production is being mounted at the newly-rechristened Wilton Theater Factory – the complex just south of Five Points in Wilton Manors, founded by Abyss Theatre and expanded into two adjacent stages by Island City Stage. The upgrades by the latter include a sound system that makes musicals like this and the recent Next To Normal sound surprisingly clear without overwhelming the audience. Its execution by Abraham Oleksniaski and Joseph Martinez is flawless. Even with a limited amount of hardware to work with, lighting designer Jamie Brothman and technician Melquisedel Dominguez keep the audience era-oriented. There’s even a moment of “ka-boy” line dancing from Andrew Fiacco that plays a crucial part of the plot development.

Now & Then performing through Sept. 30 at the Wilton Theater Factory, at 2304 N. Dixie Highway, Wilton Manors.

Show times are Thursdays to Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 7pm. Running time 2 hours 15 minutes including one intermission. Tickets cost $35-50. 

Visit nowandthenmusical.com

 

Ft. Lauderdale - Now & Then

 

Now & Then tells the story of one couple, Daniel and Greg, over 4 decades. 3 actors play Daniel and 3 actors play Greg. We follow Greg and Daniel on their journey together in this life-affirming musical about love and the complications and rewards of staying together through lifes ups and downs. 

 

Click here for tickets!

DATES & TIMES:

September 6th - 30th 

Thursdays: 8:00pm

Fridays: 8:00pm

Saturdays: 8:00pm

Sundays: 7:00pm

Tix: $35-$50

PHONE:
954-826-8790

ADDRESS:

Wilton Theater Factory - MainStage
2304 N. Dixie Highway 
Wilton Manors, Florida 33305

E-MAIL:
RonnieLarsenPresents@gmail.com

The Original Cast and Crew - Ft. Lauderdale

________________________

Tim Evanicki

Tim Evanicki (Greg #2) is excited to be making his onstage debut with Ronnie Larsen Presents. As a producer, Tim has worked in Fort Lauderdale on GRINDR: THE OPERA, BATHHOUSE: THE MUSICAL! (a show which he co-wrote), and “NAKED BOYS SINGING” (co-production with Ronnie Larsen). Other on-stage regional credits include Old Deuteronomy in CATS (Theatre Winter Haven), Jud Frye in OKLAHOMA! (Central Florida Community Arts), Lt. Cable in SOUTH PACIFIC (Brighton Theatre Guild), Man 1 in GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGING (Winter Park Playhouse), and Man 2 in AND THE WORLD GOES ROUND (Winter Park Playhouse). Tim is a graduate of The Juilliard School. He is the author of the book “The College Audition,” a regularly travels the country doing workshops and master classes with high school performers. For more information go to:  www.timevanicki.com

 

Dennis Manning

Dennis (Music and Lyrics and Daniel #3) is a singer, songwriter and performer for more than 40 years in the country, pop, folk music industry.  He has performed in Nashville at the celebrated Wild Horse Saloon. He did theater in the early days in productions of “Godspell,”, “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, “ “Julius Caesar,”  and co-directed “Godspell” in college.  Dennis has written over 100 songs in the style of folk, pop and country music.  Dennis has played the acoustic 6 & 12-string guitars for a long time. Dennis was a Franciscan Friar, a restauranteur, and has worked in a variety of industries.  He holds an MS in Training, BS in Marketing, BA in English and has a recording engineering certification.  For Dennis, life has always been about music and the opportunity to express feelings and emotions.  The collaboration with Ronnie on the musical “Now & Then”  has been a gift to see his words and music take on a new life and point of view.  There are lots of stories to tell and he hopes you find your own meaning and self-expression in his music and lyrics. It all really started one rainy day in March 1982, “Wet leaves and misty days…Solitary, All Together Man…”

Matt McClure

Matt McCLure (Daniel #2) Originally from Kennesaw, Georgia, Matt has traveled all over the United States working both on and off the stage. Guitar shows seem to be his calling, as his last three years have been filled with many productions of Buddy Holly, Million Dollar Quartet, and Ring of Fire. When he gets to escape the live music shows, some of his favorite credits include John Merrick in The Elephant Man, Garry Lejeune in Noises Off, and Ken in RED.  He has worked off the stage as a freelance carpenter and electrician across the country and toured for two Christmas seasons as the Head Carpenter for Broadway Christmas Wonderland.  Matt is very excited to be down here in, mostly sunny, Fort Lauderdale and bring a story of love, strength, and sacrifice that spans a lifetime.

Cody Jenkins

Cody Jenkins (Daniel #1) is thrilled to be joining this creative cast and crew for the World Premiere of Now and Then Musical. He was most recently seen performing aboard the Norwegian Sky with Norwegian Cruise Lines as a Featured Singer. Cody holds a BFA in acting from Texas State University and is an alumni of The Performing Arts Project and Broadway Theatre Project where we worked with a handful of Broadway and TV/Film professionals. Some of his favorite roles include: Baby John in West Side Story, Jesus in Godspell, Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, and Max Slater in an original work titled Fall Apart Together (Off-Bway; The Playhouse Theater). In his free time, Cody loves playing guitar, dancing like nobody is watching, and diving into a good movie or video game. Special thanks to my managers at Upward and Onward, my friends and family for their support, and to the creative team for giving me this opportunity. Love to my angels, Mom and Jeremy T. Much love

Ansel Robin Thompson

Ansel Robin Thompson (Greg #3) a Lyric Tenor, is from Meredith Center, NH. Ansel received his education from Ithaca College in NY and London.   He has performed for many years as the “House Tenor” at Geneva-On-The Lake in Upstate NY, the Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, FL and the Island Club at William’s Island in Miami. Ansel has performed leading roles in many musicals and operettas in the Lakes Region of NH and Boston. Recently, Ansel has received further voice instruction from David Sabella in New York.

Conor Walton

Conor Walton (Greg #3) A recent REMY award recipient for contributions to South Florida Theatre. A Silver Palm recipient and three time Carbonell Nominee. Most recently seen as Hermes in Rock Odyssey at The Arsht Center and Zanna in Zanna-Don’t at Island City Stage. Credits include St.Jimmy in American Idiot at Outré Theatre Company. Albert in It Shoulda Been You at Actors Playhouse(Silver Palm Award). Thalia in Xanadu at Slow Burn theatre and Felix in The Normal Heart at Outre Theatre (Carbonell nomination and Silver Palm Award) Other credits include Reggie in First Date at Actors Playhouse(Carbonell nomination and Broadway World award) and the reprise of Thrill Me(Broadway World award) at the Broward Center. John Quincy Adams in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson(Outré theatre) Richard Loeb in Thrill Me (Outré Theatre -Broadway World Award). The Arbiter in Chess (Slow Burn Theatre)  Thank you to Ronnie and Dennis for allowing me to bring the role of Greg 1 to life.

__________________

The Crew

 Director - Ronnie Larsen

Music & Lyrics - Dennis Manning

Book - Ronnie Larsen

Set Design - Melquisedel Dominguez

Sound Design - Abraham Oleksnianski

Sound Technician - Joseph Martinez 

Lighting Design - Jamie Brothman

Lighting Technician - Melquisedel Dominguez

Choreography - Andy Fiacco

Box Office - Emily Herrera-Martinez
 
Executive Consultant - Caryn Horwitz
Audience response and interviews

 

 

Audience Reaction

 

"Last night, Michael and I saw one of the best new musicals of the decade.  Now and Then Musical at The Wilton Theatre Factory -- Main Stage is amazing.  Ronnie Larsen and Dennis Manning have written a truly satisfying love story. You will laugh, you will cry, you will fall in love. The performances are great. If you haven't purchased tickets yet, don't wait. This is the real deal."
 
"Thank you for choosing Fort Lauderdale for premiering NOW & THEN! It was BY FAR the best gay theater production I have seen in the five years I have lived here. Don't know your plans for it's future, but, bringing it to New York sure seems in order to me. With the right success in New York, lots of tweaking and glitz (and, money, of course), I think there is real potential for bringing it "uptown" and a major triumph!"

"Now and Then is a new musical that is just terrific. The music, composed by Dennis Manning is fresh and moves the story along. The guitar accompaniment is great. Go see it and let is draw you in."



"A country western gay musical that follows a long term relationship from its coception, then through the many years' Complete with all the ups and downs life has to offer. Cast was very talented. music and songs were memorable and creatively staged. This could be the beginning of a wonderful journey for this musical. Go and be one of the people who can say they saw it when it was in wilton manors!!"


"Wow, just wow! Seeing the WORLD PREMIER of "Now & Again", was like witnessing the birth of something that you know is going to be big, very big! Congratulations to Ronnie Larsen, Dennis Manning and everyone involved with this production! Standing ovations - well deserved!"



"I give it five out of five hankies. If you have a heart and have lived a while on this planet...Now & Then, the musical will make you want to celebrate every livin' moment with your pard'ner."



"What an incredibly enjoyable evening of theater. This is an original show with fantastic music and a story that is full of heart. GO SEE THIS SHOW!"



"My experience sitting in the audience was as if I was living in the moment in each phase of the performance. My attention was kept from start to finish. Every scene flowed into another! My favorite song was "Solitary Man"! I am hoping a CD is released so I can purchase the music and listen to it over and over again. A true love story I was glad I was able to watch. Congratulations to Dennis Manning and his wonderful team. OPENING NIGHT WAS A SUCCESS!"
 

"WOW! Everyone should see this show. Another Ronnie Larsen production, this show is very different from Ronnie's typical productions. Although there were some very cute guys in the show, nobody got naked (the worst thing about the show) But it is Ronnie's best work to date. I cried thru most of it, yet it wasn’t depressing. It was tender, it was joyful, it was moving. I expected something more linear in the aging, but the flow back and forth thru the years was brilliantly done. The music was perfect. I was particularly impressed with Matt McClure and Tim Evanicki. Not to take away anything from the other actors, all were very good. But these two were amazing. Great voices, great acting, and a strong chemistry between them. Do yourself a favor and see this show!"


"Over the top fabulous not to be missed. I connected with music, the story, the love of two people. I cried. I laughed. The "Christmas Story.... The Sears catalog.. By the end of the show I was devastated. Thank you Dennis for such music that speaks right to my heart. This is Broadway bound."


"The musical was beautiful. Full of heart, humor and really nice songs. It’s a touching story with great performances by the actors."


"We thought this production was VERY GOOD! The story line, actors/singers, and music were all very interesting and professional. A remarkable production for a small theater company!"


"What a great time we had, enjoyed the music and the play ,loved the concept of the three stages of life and the songs that went with each one ,Bravo Bravo Bravo to all who were involved ,and to Dennis Manning who wrote the songs I'm in love with Red Rose I cant wait to here it on the air waves, loved it, loved it, loved it."


"Just got back from show now and then. First time at your theater.  Fantastic. Moving. Heart rendering. As suspected I laughed and cried.  Phenominal actors and singing. I thought the play would progress from one stage in life to another but the use of simultaneously living life was amazing. Thanks for a great show. Keep it up."
 

"Simply amazing, don't miss this."
 

"I just left the show. To say the show was a extraordinarily  beautifully written, Broadway caliber score, with a cast that was perfect is still way below what I thought of the show. Congratulations my friend you have a huge hit. Seriously it tripled my expectations." 



"Congratulations to Dennis Manning, and the actors as well. Songs that can stand on their own, three guitars, and harmonizing voices made my ears happy, and at times pulled at my heartstrings as I unsuccessfully fought off tears of emotion. This show gave me everything I look for in a musical. Before the performance was over, I realized I must attend it again. It's a must see."


"I so much enjoyed your play. It told a very old story in a very new way. I loved it so much...I especially enjoyed the use of guitars and songs to tell the story."


"We saw Now & Then last night.  I believe this is the BEST show you have ever done.  Loved every second!  And we both cried... Our cheers to the cast."


"The show tonite was AWESOME!  Loved it! Laughed and cried! Nice job! And the music was great! Your composer out did himself!"


"Following the lives of the characters from their 20’s through their seventies by incorporating 3 sets of actors, often times on stage at the same time, is a brilliant concept.  The creative script, with the highs, the lows, the struggles, and the euphoria, all played out to original songs by Dennis Manning.  Thank you Ronnie Larsen for bringing this to our community.  I’m sure this is destined for a much larger audience. I look for forward to its continued success."


"First, the central couple’s relationship spanning 43 years is told by three sets of paired actors often sharing the stage at the same time, each pair’s status an indirect comment on each other. Second, the folky-country score by Dennis Manning is heartfelt, lyrical, often touching – and played live on guitars by Manning and two other actors. And third, and most telling, the couple is gay. So the subtext — and it never seems paternalistic – is that homosexual love, true love, is no different than heterosexual love with its rough patches and conquering joys. This isn’t an earth-shaking revelation to most straight audiences (La Cage aux Folles is playing at Broward Stage Door this month). But for gay audiences, it must be a kind of a “finally” moment seeing this truth validated by being simply and honestly portrayed on stage in depth — the polar opposite of life depicted in The Boys in the Band." William Hirshman, FloridaTheaterOnstage.com
 

"Certainly, this weepy, yet at times charming, touching and upbeat show has something to say. Certainly, the six-person cast largely excels. The show requires quadruple threats – performers adept at acting, singing, dancing and playing the guitar. In this debut production, the actors demonstrate clear, strong and expressive singing voices. They also disappear into characters and their guitar playing is diverse without missing a beat." Aaron Krause, BerkshireFineArts.com