Litchfield resident and Emmy winning videographer and documentarian-turned-director Rick Doyle learned early on in his theatrical career that it was far easier for him to write a new play than to do an established work. He is bringing one such self-composed play, "," to this month.
Back in 1973 as an art teacher for St. Bridget's School in the Elmwood section of West Hartford, Doyle was looking for something to do.
"I decided to help with the theatre there. But I had no background. I told them I would write a musical - I had no idea how. I hummed the tunes I had in my head to somebody who could write music. Then, of course, I said who better to direct this thing than me," Doyle laughed.
He went on to write, direct, and produce three works of theatre for St. Bridget's.
"Now I was an authenticated director," Doyle gushed.
Flash forward 38 years and Doyle is bringing yet another original work, this time a straight play to Phoenix, the third time this comedy thriller has been produced.
"I was looking to direct a horror kind of play," Doyle said, "and I discovered there was just no really good scary stuff out there. So naturally, I decided to write one."
"The Ice Box" begins 12,000 feet up on Mt. Olive in Idaho at the Mt. Olive Weather Observatory and something up there doesn't want anyone to leave. This original horror story is packed with thrills, chills, and elements of humor. Yes, humor.
"In my mind, there is no better combination of humor and horror. The two emotions are actually quite close. You can have a humorous moment and then hit it with horror. Or you can defuse a scary moment with a bit of humor," Doyle said.
Previously produced at Taft School in Watertown and the Nancy Marine Studio Theatre in Torrington, this incarnation features KC Ross, Kimberly O'Brien, Rachel Armour, Val Vitalo, Katherine Ray, Chris Evans, Moses Beckett, Ed Bassett, Jason Begin, Brian Elser, and Jonathan Ross. Doyle is directing this production.
"It's a rock-em, sock-em, funny play with great moments, hyper panic and some of the most difficult lines an actor can learn," Doyle said.
Doyle said he got the inspiration to write "The Ice Box" during one of his frequent trips to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. He said he visited the summit of a mountain and it was there that he concocted this story.
Doyle expressed his thanks to the Phoenix Stage Company for taking a chance with his original work. But he was also quite confident that theatre-goers would experience something brand new while taking in "The Ice Box."
"To me, this is a show to see if you want to see something totally different. There's an awful lot going on. You just won't know what is coming next," he said.
"The Ice Box" was originally scheduled to open Sept. 9, 2011, however the heavy rains on Sept. 7 and 8 caused a nearby stream on Rubber Avenue to flood, causing some flood damage to the theatre. As of this writing, crews were furiously cleaning up the theatre in preparation of the newly schedule Opening Night on Saturday, Sept. 10.
Other performances will be a matinee on Sept. 11, evening performances on September 16 and 17, and a final matinee on the 18th. For tickets, call (203) 632-8546 or visit www.brownpapertickets.com.