The Hippo


Mar 17, 2018








From left to right, Ben Pascucci, Alice Pascucci, Laura Iwaskiewicz and Joel Iwaskiewicz. Courtesy photo.

See Crazy for You 

When: Friday, May 15, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, May 16, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, May 17, at 2 p.m.
Where: Keefe Center for the Arts, 117 Elm St., Nashua
Admission: $18 to $20

Real-life crazy in love
Couples rule the stage in Actorsingers production

By Kelly Sennott

For much of the cast of the Nashua Actorsingers’ upcoming show, Crazy for You, a romantic night out means singing, tap dancing, running lines and constructing sets late into the night.

“My sons used to say, ‘It’s 11 p.m. Do you know where your parents are?’” said Ben Pascucci at a rehearsal last week. It was around 8 p.m., and the play’s run-through had just begun, as the previous hour had been devoted to costume fittings. He plays Everett Baker and his wife Alice is Lottie Childs. They’ve been performing in community theater since the early 1980s, and at 79 and 77, respectively, they show no signs of slowing down.
 “When we’re finished with this rehearsal, we’ll be at Applebee’s. That’s where I’ll have my supper, because I haven’t eaten yet,” he said.
Ben Pascucci still works full time in Manchester, and whenever she gets the chance, Alice Pascucci still dances with the same enthusiasm as when she was 18. In fact, she performed in this show about 15 years ago; she was 62, but that time around, she was one of the Follies showgirls.
“The director held up the [tiny] costume we’d be wearing, and she said, ‘If you can’t fit into these, don’t bother.’ I looked at it and said, ‘OK! Make sure you work out!’” she said, mock lifting weights with her arms.
When the couple first moved to New Hampshire less than 10 years ago, they thought their community theater days were over. Then they found the Actorsingers. Their first Nashua show was during their 50th wedding anniversary.
“That night, I was tap dancing onstage. That’s where I wanted to be celebrating my 50th wedding anniversary: in my tap shoes,” she said.
If you feel like you’re seeing incredible chemistry between other actors onstage when Actorsingers perform at the Keefe Auditorium the weekend of May 15, it’s because Ben and Alice Pascucci are not alone in their off-stage romance. The production involves at least five couples onstage and off, many of whom met through this community theater organization.
Joel and Laura Iwaskiewicz, for instance, play lead roles Bobby Child and Polly Baker. They’ve acted as romantic characters opposite one another before, but never before (spoiler alert) have their characters’ fates fared so well. This time around, neither dies onstage — though Crazy for You is not totally void of drama.
“This is the first time she’s ever slapped me,” Joel Iwaskiewicz said, rearranging his tie in the mirror.
“The first time we did it during auditions, I went to do it, and I couldn’t,” Laura Iwaskiewicz said. “He had to talk me through the rehearsal process — where specifically to hit so it wouldn’t hurt as much, where it was going to make the loudest noise.”
“But it was mostly just me saying, ‘Just do it,’” Joel Iwaskiewicz said.
“Yes, now I’m really good at slapping my husband! I’ve done it more than a dozen times. I’ll do it twice tonight,” Laura Iwaskiewicz said. (“And she’s really good at it!” her husband joked.)
Crazy for You is a romantic love story. Written by Ken Ludwig and with lyrics by Ira Gershwin, music by George Gershwin, it’s based on the songwriting team’s 1930 musical Girl Crazy.  It hit Broadway in 1992 and won a Tony Award for Best Musical.
The play follows Bobby Childs, a New York banker who’s always dreamed of dancing in a Broadway musical. His job is to deliver foreclosure papers to the owners of the rundown Gaiety Theatre in Deadrock, Nevada, but soon after he arrives, he meets and falls in love with the owner’s daughter, Polly Baker. In an attempt to help the Bakers save their theater from foreclosure, he suggests they put on a musical to raise money and calls on New York friends, the Follies Girls. In an attempt to win Polly’s heart, Bobby disguises himself as the famous director, Bela Zangler.
“I did the show in college — I was one of the Follies girls — and I fell in love with it. When I heard the Actorsingers were doing it, I thought, I would love to do it again, and I thought [the role of Bobby Child] was perfect for him,” Laura  Iwaskiewicz said. “So I started teaching him how to tap dance last summer.”
The other onstage couple are Sophie (who plays Irene Roth) and Kevin Linkroum (who plays Lank Hawkins), who also said there’s a higher comfort level when playing opposite one another. They run lines together, and as a result, often spend more time thinking about and rehearsing for shows they do together.
Other Actorsingers couples include director Martha Daniels Holland  and actor Jed Holland (who plays a cowboy named Mingo), and producer Kathy Lovering and her husband, Bob Lovering, who does sets for this show. Both also met through Actorsingers.
Martha Daniels Holland said the offstage chemistry makes the show better, particularly among the married actors.
“When they have to kiss onstage, it’s very natural because they’re a real-life husband and wife,” she said. “Those looks and they way they interact with each other are true and genuine. It brings a reality to the show.” 
As seen in the May 14, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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