63 Trillion by John Bunzel - A World Premiere

 

63 TRILLION by John Bunzel

A World Premiere Production with Top-Notch Talent

Money. Sex. Bad behavior… it appears to be just another day in the markets.  But when those global financial markets go radioactive, the predators stand poised for a fight to the finish.  Partnerships prove to be perilous and laws are meaningless in the jungle of scheming money managers, where these cleverly crafted characters dwell.

The New American Theatre in association with Mud Bay Partners pulled together a “dream team” of talent to launch John Bunzel’s new play 63 Trillion.

 

It takes some insider knowledge of the goings on in the Wall Street set, which this playwright has developed after having served entertainment industry clients investment needs, to put together a play as astute as this one.  Mr. Bunzel is a Certified Financial Planner Practitioner, but he received his BFA from The Juilliard Theatre Center.  Clearly he’s offering LA audiences both sides of the brain, while melding his artistic and financial acumen in this one.

Broadway, film, and television stars such as Megan Gallagher (Scandal, Suits), Jeffrey Jones (Deadwood, Amadeus), and Jack Stehlin (Weeds) are among the strong cast of actors being helmed by Broadway director Steve Zuckerman.  It’s always a treat to see this kind of professional production hit Los Angeles and yet stay accessible to most audiences by keeping the ticket price under $35.

 

63 Trillion, encouraged to development by New American Theatre Artistic Director Jack Stehlin, is designed by an award winning crew and runs at the Odyssey Theatre as a guest production through June 7th.  NAT has enjoyed critical acclaim, awards, and nominations from LA Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Variety, Hollywood Reporter, LA Drama Critics Circle, Ovation Awards, and more.  CBS Los Angeles named The New American Theatre as one of the top five 99-seat theatre companies in Los Angeles.

Playwright John Bunzel, himself a multi-award winner, is also recognized for his talent as a screenwriter Born To Be Wild (Warner Brothers) and television writer, STAT and The Wonder Years (ABC-Emmy and Golden Globe Awards).  His selected plays include Delirious (LA Weekly Playwriting Award), Death of a Buick (Manhattan Theatre Club, Pasadena Playhouse), Gravity Shoes (LA Weekly Playwriting Award), and Complexity (New American Theatre).  He’s worked as an executive on The Convent and The Spreading Ground.  He seems to be a man of many talents and the major force in getting this play to stage.  More about how that happened:

 

How and when did the seed for this play get planted?

John Bunzel:  After the financial meltdown of 2008, I knew I wanted to write a satire about the brokerage business and the crisis.  It took me another year or so to come up with the characters and to find the style of the play, then another two years to write it.

When starting to write a new project do you have a ritual, or an outline that helps keep you on track and moving forward?

John Bunzel:  For this play, I thought about the characters and the style, but I did not plot it out in advance.  I didn’t want to be handcuffed with a blueprint or an outline; I wanted the characters to go where they wanted to go.  I wanted them to be a mystery to me.  For me to really get traction on a piece, I need to get a sense of the lead characters, the world, the title, and to write a first scene that successfully launches the play.

How about your characters, are they based on personalities you’ve encountered in your work, or do they emerge from other sources?

John Bunzel:  The characters are a mixture of people I know, made up personalities and, of course, pieces of myself.

What has been the biggest surprise, or learning experience, from seeing this work staged?

John Bunzel:  This play is an enormous challenge to perform, a very demanding piece, with strong rhythms and a brisk pace.  Much text work needed to be done, and is still being done, to make the play sing.  It is always fascinating to see how a play changes when you lift it off the page and onto its feet.

Is there a message or lesson within this piece in which you hope that your audiences might recognize and ponder?

John Bunzel:  Hopefully, audience members are entertained and fascinated by this high stakes world, but also see themselves and their own ethical and moral boundaries.

Anything to add?

John Bunzel:  There is nothing like doing the first production of a play.  It is a furious journey to a place you can only imagine until you get there. It is a very collaborative process.

 

 

Cast: Robert Cicchini (Frank), Megan Gallagher (Nancy), Noah James (Jonah), Jeffrey Jones (Dick), Ken Lerner (Tom), Jordan Lund (Mr. Black), and Jack Stehlin (Kenny).

63 TRILLION runs at 8pm Fridays and Saturdays, 2pm Sunday April 26th and June 7th (only two matinees), closing on June 7, 2015. A guest production at the Odyssey Theatre, located at 2055 South Sepulveda Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90025. Tickets are $30-$34.99 at NewAmericanTheatre.com/tickets.html or call 310-477-2055. $3 parking available at the theater, or free street parking.

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