An interview with Dennis Hennessy, director of The Gin Game, presented by Kansas City Actors Theatre.
From an early age I’ve been fascinated with live actors on stage telling a story – I suppose it’s the intimacy with the characters and that it’s all happening at the moment that has kept me involved for more than 40 years. I participated in high school and college theatre and spent several years with the rep company here – doing everything from assistant directing to catering opening night receptions – it was the best way to learn the many facets of the theatre. It was during that time that I knew I wanted to be a theatre producer and to produce on a professional level.
While working on my master’s degree at UMKC, I was hired as the producing director of the Resident Theater where I eventually hired Richard Carrothers to direct part of the season. After 4 years producing & directing for Resident, Richard and I raised $125,000 and opened our first theatre, Tiffany’s Attic in 1972 and a year later Waldo Astoria opened in the south part of the city. Both theatres were closed in 1992 and New Theatre Restaurant in Overland Park opened. The theatre was recently renovated adding state of the art lighting and sound systems along with 3 million pixels of light in the ceiling. The theatre is an artistic success both locally and nationally and has become the place to go when in Kansas City.
My relationship with Kansas City Actors Theatre began as a board member in 2007 and as a director in 2008 with Dinner with Friends. I have always liked The Gin Game and when Actors Theatre asked me to direct it to open their 11th season I jumped at the opportunity.
I like the play for two reasons: first, it’s a very funny and entertaining piece of theatre. Second, it’s a roadmap to a life of loneliness & unhappiness, lived through regrets and unresolved issues. Hopefully we as an audience can recognize through the two characters’ behavior some of our own challenges and we can course correct before we damage relationships with our family and friends and not end up like the two characters in the play.
Both characters (Fonsia & Weller) are locked into roles from which they cannot, or will not, break free. Their behavior dooms them to loneliness & decay, and the true tragedy is that, ultimately, they do it to themselves.
Once I open The Gin Game I go right into directing You Can’t Take It With You with an all-star Kansas City cast – Cathy Barnett, Craig Benton, Deb Bluford, Dodie Brown, Katie Karel, Jim Korinke, John Rensenhouse, Jan Rogge, Mark Robbins & Victor Raider-Wexler. And then in January I direct Marion Ross and Hal Linden in Moon Over Buffalo, both for New Theatre.
And finally, I’m one of the fortunate few who work and make a living in the theatre. In my spare time I rescue man’s best friend, dogs. Like actors on stage they too are of the moment and eager to make you laugh and think. Life is good!
THE GIN GAME
by D.L. Coburn
August 12-30, 2015
City Stage at Union Station
$5.00 off single ticket with the code GIN BLOG.
Call the Central Ticket Office at 816.235.6222 for tickets.
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