Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Your one-act, Angel’s Flight, was the 2016 Hollywood Fringe Festival winner for Best Cabaret/Variety performance. For our readers who may be unfamiliar with the show, how would you describe its premise?
Matt Ritchey: It’s a film noir comedy caburlesque! The show takes the tropes of 1940s film noir, pairs it with some Stan Freberg/Firesign Theatre witty comedy, and wraps it up in some sultry and hysterical musical numbers - all in under an hour! When we met at 2015 Fringe, Benjamin Schwartz both wanted to do a film noir on stage. We talked about our individual ideas as we had drinks at Three Clubs and decided we should collaborate and actually WRITE it to be performed in their cabaret space in back! We’re both friends with the brilliant Cherry Poppins caburlesque crew (They do sultry, but funny and smart, burlesque shows which also showcase their fantastic dancing and cabaret singing abilities.) and decided we should partner up! Fortunately, they said yes!
BD: Given the show’s success at the Fringe Festival, it is now in its second run at The 3 Clubs. How would you describe the cast and crew’s excitement at having another opportunity to return to the performance?
MR: We’re elated! I think the show has improved since Fringe; we’ve added two musical numbers, had to shake up the cast due to availability, and brought in a great stage manager! I miss our cast members who were unable to return, but our new people are super talented and put on a terrific show. You get a bit more time to settle in when you’re not in Fringe mode, so I always suggest showing up at 8 p.m., getting a nice cocktail, sit and listen to the noir-y music, and dig the atmosphere before the show starts.
BD: You have taken on quite a few roles within this production, having not only written the play but also directed, produced, and performed within it. How do you find that you have balanced these roles and how have they impacted one another throughout your creative process?
MR: To be fair, I don’t have to perform in this one! We had two cast members unable to do individual dates and we found other fantastic people to fill in so you will NOT have to see me in a gown singing a '40s version of “Criminal” and playing the role of Jane. (Apologies - or you’re welcome.) But all the other stuff is challenging. I had a very clear vision of how I wanted this to look and feel and being able to craft it from inception has been extremely fulfilling - every show I do I try to add a new theatrical element that I haven’t done before. For this one, I wanted a 1982 Hall and Oates track to be performed live as a “Thunderball-type” James Bond theme as we did live credits on stage. And we did it! But without Sarah, Alli, Brin, and Kelly from the CPC, Ben, and our producer team from the Fringe production, the show wouldn’t have happened. Everybody has great ideas that make the show even better than I first imagined it - it’s still happening! Actors are adding in bits and making the show more fun than before! Schoen Hodges, who plays Detective Duff, adds new stuff almost every performance - I think I actually hurt myself from surprised laughter during the last show! It’s why when we won the Fringe Award, where you’re only allowed to make a two-word acceptance speech, we chose “Collaboration” and “Fish.” The first, because this show is a true collaboration, and the second….. well… come and see the show.
BD: What made the Hollywood Fringe Festival a great venue for Angel’s Flight?
MR: I love Fringe. There’s something about the Fringe that says, “Take a chance!” So we did! It’s a time when a whole community and people from outside that community come together and just WALLOW in theatre! New shows, classic shows, deep dramas, quirky musicals, solo show extravaganzas, shows in vans, shows in bathrooms! And I think we added a unique, super fun, and upbeat zest. Plus, producing theater ain’t cheap, and Fringe often makes things more affordable, as well as giving you a great deadline!
BD: What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show?
MR: Nothing, as everything is the property of Three Clubs or are prop rentals and I don’t want to be responsible for stolen items. Oh, wait. You meant that the other way. I really just hope people relax, lose themselves for an hour or so, and leave with abdominal pain from laughing. This show is pure high-octane cotton candy entertainment. And you’ll be discussing the fish. Trust me.
BD: The show will be appearing at The 3 Clubs on September 14, 21, and 28, 2016. Are there any future plans to perform the one-act at other venues?
MR: We’re “in talks” about doing it elsewhere. I’m sure we’ll “take a meeting” and do a “watchdown” of the show to see how it can “synergize” into other locations. (Do I sound like a Hollywood professional?) Nothing solid yet, but fingers crossed. BUT DON’T WAIT!
BD: Are there any upcoming projects that you would care to share with our readers?
MR: Yes! Cherry Poppins have extended their show, CLUELESQUE - a burlesque take on the movie/board game - which includes our Detective Duff, the ladies from ANGEL’S FLIGHT, and some other lovelies as well! That’s at Three Clubs on Sept 23, 30, and October 7 at 10:30 p.m. And NEVERMORE - a fictional psychological thriller about the life and works of Edgar Allan Poe - is going up October 6 - November 5 at Theatre Unleashed. It’s the third time it’s been produced, and I’m super excited to see how TU tackles it! (I’m just attached as the writer this time around.) And this is the first time it’s being performed on the Anniversary of Poe’s death (October 7) and running through the Halloween season, which is perfect for this show!
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about and purchase tickets for Angel’s Flight?
MR: The doors open at 8 p.m. and the show begins at 8:30 - there’s a great bar, great atmosphere, and I highly recommend getting in early for cocktails!
Tickets are available here, and you can check out the trailer for the show.