Craig Trolli interrogates the hardened criminals of Theater Schmeater’s Money and Run: creator/writer/director, Wayne Rawley, and three of the actresses from the cast: Lisa Branham, Lisa Viertel and Pilar O’Connell. The show has three different episodes with three different casts. Craig set out to get their alibis!
Craig: Wayne, how did you originally create Money & Run?
Wayne Rawley: “Take the Money and Run” by Steve Miller has always been one of my favorite songs. It is such a small, simple song that sets up the simplest and most wonderful of stories. Three verses, the first introduces the two lovers who are also robbers and cool easy-going Mary Jane smokers, the second introduces the “just the facts” lawman on their trail and the last verse tells us that “They got away, they’re headed down south and they’re still running today.” I wanted to write a play just so I could play that song in it. So I wrote a few scenes down, terrible Sam Shepard rip-off style scenes about two lovers in a motel room. Nothing I would ever show anybody. But that was the original idea for Money & Run – write a play so the Steve Miller song could be the theme song. It is unfortunate that so many of my play ideas start with that. Money & Run: An Action Adventure Serial for the Stage came to me as I sat in the audience watching audiences go crazy for Theater Schmeater’s late-night Twilight Zone shows. They had been running for a few years and people were lining up around the block. I went to Shelia Daniels, the AD at the time and pitched an idea for an original late night TV series. One that would traffic in the TV tropes of my youth. Dukes of Hazzard, The A-Team, Knightrider, The Master, The Incredible Hulk, and the like – At some point after the “celebrity of the week” idea that Love Boat and Fantasy Island ran into the ground, one hour action-adventure series became the rage and I did not miss a single turbo boost. That is what I wanted M&R to be. A celebration of everything I’d ever seen on those shows.
Craig: A cast of 32 and I’m not in it?!? If you were going to cast me, what kind of character would you create for me in this show?
Lisa Branham: Oh, you should totally be playing Narrator! Or OT! Or Doreen. (Craig’s note: Lisa played the Narrator and Doreen! She really is this nice in real life!)
Lisa Viertel: You would definitely be one of Big Momma Bob’s sons! (Craig’s note: I would want to be the twitchy one!)
Pilar O’Connell: A dance lord. Very Solid Gold. (Craig’s note: Pilar knows my work!)
Wayne: Craig, I don’t know you at all – but if I was going to create a character for you, it would be Preston Freedom, the intrepid reporter from the CCGS (Cudrup County Gay Scene) who is investigating some mystery that M&R get unwittingly tangled up in. They are framed for something terrible and trying to clear their good/bad name, and Preston (Press for short) is constantly getting in the way, with his nosy newshoundiness, threatening to expose them to the law and the swift and terrible court of pubic opinion. But they eventually learn that Press Freedom just wants to do the right thing for the citizens of Cudrup County and deliver the truth. In the end M&R and Press have to team up to expose the real scandal and the real culprit, who of course is Big Momma Bob.
The mystery would probably have something do to with Bad Pork Rinds or something. I really don’t have time right now to flesh it out for you, but yeah, something to do with Bad Pork Rinds. The intestinal health of the entire county is a risk. Or something.
Honestly, I don’t have time to do this right now.
If they don’t find the poisoned batch before they get delivered to the Annual Cudrup County All-Rind Round Up, half the county could get deathly sick.
Okay, that’s it – I can’t figure this all out right now.
Maybe it’s mind control – the rinds are tainted with some mind control drug (like in Strange Brew, the McKenzie Bros. Movie) that will infect all of Cudrup Country and get them to elect Big Momma Bob as County Commissioner so she can finally run all the small, artisanal, Local Pork Rind makers out of business.
Look, I have to go. I can’t do this anymore.
Big Momma’s Pork Rinds are called “Big Momma’s Surprise O’ Rinds – Pork, Beef, Chicken, Tuna – you never know what fried flesh you’re gonna find!”
Okay, But that’s it.
Craig: This is a cast of 32 actors and it’s exciting because so many are female! How many actresses are there in this show? Was it intentional or a happy accident?
Lisa Branham: Oh, lord. I do not know. Eleventy-twelve?
Wayne: Very intentional. The shows M&R parodies all had male heroes – females were often brilliant, capable busty sidekicks, but busty sidekicks nonetheless. And often women were just weekly guest starts for David Hassellhoff to side hug and kiss twice before heading on down the road. My 7-year-old daughter noticed that right away. We like watching Knight Rider at home, but within three or four episodes she said, “Every episode has some girl he kisses, and they put their lips inside each other’s mouth.” All I could do was tell her, yeah, we try hard not to hold that against the show too much, but it is pretty ridiculous – but look- that woman is the computer genius who fixes the car for two scenes every episode! Turbo Boost!” Basically my daughter and I watch Knight Rider together and give it the MST3K treatment. She loves making fun of Kight Rider.
Money & Run was very much supposed to be the opposite of that. Money is the Ass-Kicker of the pair, the drunk, the passion, the brave one. Run is tough and cool, but Money is the leader and it is often her heart that leads them on adventures. Run is single minded, he needs to find his sister. Money is like an open wound, open to the world. That is why she’s so beat up and ragged. That’s the way it’s always been. Big Momma Bob started out as a male character, he was going to be the “Boss Hogg” of the series. But right away I knew that Money couldn’t be the only female among the principal characters. So I turned Big Poppa Bob into Big Momma Bob and of course it was immediately so much better. BMB is my favorite character out of any character I’ve every created. She gets to say anything and everything and she is incredibly fun to write. Plus I get to find women to play her, which I like very much.
For this production I wanted to include even more female actors – Alyssa, my wife and producing partner (and Big Momma Bob in the Nuns episode) decided that OT could be a female character as easy as she could be a man, and The Narrator too. We had originally cast a great actress to play the Narrator in the Dance episode but she had to drop out during the rehearsal process. Luckily we had Lantz Wagner already in the cast who stepped in to take over that role, so we ended up with one Female Narrator instead of two. Don’t let Lantz’s male-ness fool you, he is a GREAT Narrator. Lisa Branham our PILOT Narrator, showed me things about The Narrator I had no idea were even in there. At points I was like, “Is she saying my lines? It’s so good! Who wrote this?” And Megan Aihers is the first female OT – She was one of my first casting decisions, I knew I wanted to work with her and I knew the moment she auditioned she had to play OT. She’s such a good comedian. And really good at slurring words together and still having them be understood.
I didn’t want the casting to be too confined – I wanted to, and I worked very hard to, audition as many people as I could, so I could find the mix of people that I wanted – different body types, different skin colors, different genders, even across roles. I want different Runs, different Moneys, Different OT’s – And I think I largely succeeded. It was kind of the point of doing it this way. And it wasn’t always easy. It was a long casting process.
Craig: Which cast mate would you want to be on the lam with?
Pilar O’Connell: Rebecca Davis. She is queen of my world and would be a great partner in crime.
Lisa Branham: Lantz Wagner…or Lisa Viertel.
Lisa Viertel: Lisa Branham.
Craig: In real life, how would you personally fight “redneck ninjas”?
Wayne: I would start with reminding them that our Mama’s are probably cousins.
Lisa Viertel: My physical skills are limited so it would have to be a verbal assault.
Pilar O’Connell: I would fight redneck ninjas by poisoning them. Is that too dark? It’s what I would do.
Lisa Branham: Kiss them to DEATH!
Craig: I saw this show like a million years ago. Will I have something akin to acid flashbacks watching it?
Lisa Branham: Yes. Totally.
Pilar O’Connell: It will be exactly like acid flashbacks. Possibly less talking objects though.
Wayne: Yep. Bring lime slices or whatever they do in those acid tents at Coachellapallooza or whatever because it is going to trip like you like a gas, man. If you have seen other episodes, back in the day, be sure to look at the top right shelf on the back wall. See how many different episodes you can spot!
Craig: Tell me your favorite acting note during the rehearsal process!
Pilar O’Connell: “Wiggle more”.
Lisa Branham: “Lisa Branham, I have no notes for you.”
Lisa Viertel: “Could you be less old and more sexy?”
Craig: What substance(s) should a person be on to survive a “MEGA MONEY & RUN MARATHON!”? What essentials should one pack?
Lisa Branham: Bourbon. And pork rinds.
Pilar O’Connell: Coffee, a flask (seriously alcohol is expensive bring your own), snacks and a joint for in between each show.
Wayne: Bring me a fish taco. And get one for yourself. They are delicious. Oh, you mean what should someone bring for themselves? Nothing. Bring some pocket cash for a drink at the bar. If you come for the marathon on a Saturday, you will have 1/2 hour between shows. There are tons of bars / restaurants / places to grab a sandwich or slice or hot dog within 3 minutes of the theater. Just North of the Theater on 3rd is the Metropolitan Grill – Shorty’s and Bedlam Coffee are just around the corner on Second. There is a Taco Del Mar that is open until 3 am on the weekends, just down past the weed shop on 1st and Blanchard. There is so much to eat and drink within steps of the theater. You don’t need any special preparation. The shows go fast, the breaks are short and perfectly spaced. It’s the easiest Saturday afternoon and evening you will ever spend. Sure, get high before you come – you will LOVE IT IF YOU DO. I guarantee if you come stoned, YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE THIS SHIT. OH, MY GOD. THAT – DID THAT JUST HAPPEN? THIS IS THE BEST SHOW I HAVE EVER SEEN! NO SERIOUSLY! I’M GOING TO CALL BRIAN! NO HE’S AWAKE, HE’S ALWAYS AWAKE AT NIGHT – IMMA GONNA CALL HIM, THIS SHOW IS SO AWESOME – BRIAN? BRIAN! HOW ARE YOU MAN! WHAT ARE CALLING ME FOR?
Craig: Wayne, did you ever walk into rehearsal and start directing the wrong episode? Did you have any nightmares about that?
Wayne: I did not. I did worry about it though. Luckily I had an amazing team – Alyssa Bostwick, Jessamyn Bateman-Iino, Monica Galarneau and Jaime Shure – that helped me run rehearsals, work the schedule and make sure everything got done. The schedule was the craziest part. 33 actors rehearsing 3 shows – the rehearsal schedule was entirely dictated by who could show up when. Someone was always sick (including me), ankles were twisted, backs were tweaked, knees were braced – you can’t have a group of 40+ amazing people working on a show without someone being out all the time – it was a challenge. But I made a commitment to myself and to the success of the show – that I wasn’t going to let conflicts here and there keep me from working with the people I wanted to work with. There is always a way to work it out. And this cast – they came to every rehearsal ready to go and having done work outside, a necessity when you are rehearsing 3 shows. A group would rehearse, not have a call for several days, and return to the next rehearsal having moved their character forward. It was stunning to watch. This process could not have succeeded without them.
Craig: OK, quick: describe each of the three episodes in a single Twitter sentence:
Wayne: “Money, Take Run” – The Day It All Began! M&R “meet cute” and sparks Fly! Now they are in love and on the lam from the law, the Man, and… themselves!
“Of Nuns and Ninjas” – The Hi-jinx are high octane when M&R have to fight a box of redneck ninjas and a bag of bad medicine to save some orphans and work on Money’s credit rating!
“Save the Last Dance for Run” – Money and Jimmy Jack Bodeen must hustle to stop Big Momma Bob’s evil parking lot plans and save Run from a Beautifully Bodacious Baddie. But will The Hustle be enough?
Lisa Branham: Pilot: It was love at first shot.
Of Nuns and Ninjas: Flying ninjas and bad-ass nuns.
Save the Last Dance for Run: Solid Gold Big Dance Contest!
Pilar O’Connell: Episode 1: sexual chemistry and wine coolers.
Episode 2: the orphans will be relocated.
Episode 3: boobs that bounce to the rhythm of the night.
Craig: Tell me something incriminating about Wayne!
Lisa Branham: He is the kindest, funniest, most creative man EVER.
Lisa Viertel: Wayne is a perfect human.
Pilar O’Connell: Wayne regularly murders chinchillas.
The “Money and Run” trilogy of comedy terror, runs through June 10, 2017 at Theater Schmeater in the scary/not really heart of Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, where annoying upscale tech bros co-exist with cat ladies and crack addicts. Snag tickets HERE!
Craig Trolli once played Guy the Gay Guy in Capitol Hill High, another late night theater series that had previews and recaps in every episode. He is also part of the current series Totally Solid Gold. And as any Seattle Gay Scene reader has probably realized by now: he really is just playing at being an intrepid reporter!