First laugh: Lyric hosts premiere of comedy ‘Get. A. Grip’
By Shelley Koppel, Staff Writer: St. Lucie Voice News. July 21, 2017
We don’t often have the opportunity to see a world premiere of a play, but on Aug. 12 at Stuart’s Lyric Theatre, the first production of Linda Lambrecht’s comedy “Get A. Grip” will take the stage. The play has particular hometown appeal as Lambrecht is a house manager at the Lyric and served for 25 years as theater manager at Indian River State College.
The plot, loosely construed, centers around Ted (Sneed) Snerdorff, the ACME bank mortgage and loan clerk. The bank’s president has just foreclosed on a local theater and he believes that a hit play will save the bank and teach his deadbeat offspring valuable lessons. He forces his family, Ted and a group of actors to put on a show. That’s as close to the plot as one can get without giving away the mayhem that ensues as some help and some sabotage the effort.
Lambrecht is one of those people who always needed to write and loved the theater. She saw a college production of “West Side Story,” and that was it.
“I was smitten,” she said. “I wanted to be part of like-minded people having a good time.”
Lambrecht had been working at IRSC when the position as theater manager opened.
“It was Kismet,” she said. “I went to the theater and knew that was where I belonged. It was as good a job as I could ever had. You make choices, I felt like I made the choice to be where I belonged. You find your place and you run with it.”
As part of her job, she went to conferences in New York, where presenters could learn about new acts. She often met with John Loesser, then executive director of the Lyric and now its artistic director.
“We were familiar with each other, and two years before I retired, he asked if I were interested (in becoming a house manager). It just worked out, I get to do what I want to do.”
“Get A. Grip” was supposed to be presented in November, but a variety of factors, including Hurricane Matthew, put that on hold. In the meantime, The Lyric’s Karin Leone put Lambrecht in touch with Heidi Condon, well known as a director and singer on the Treasure Coast.
“She read it, went on a cruise and read it again, and in spite of reading it twice, she offered to direct it,” Lambrecht said. “She’s fabulous.”
Lambrecht’s approach to casting was to put up notices at Starbuck’s, where apparently many with theatrical dreams work or visit.
“When Heidi came on board, she wanted formal auditions,” Lambrecht said. “We had two very successful auditions with an excellent caliber of actors interested.”
Joey Seta, who plays Ted, had a smaller role in the production that didn’t happen, and he auditioned again.
“There one line that’s wistful,” Lambrecht said. “In a cold read, he looked up to the balcony and said it as if he’d helped me write the line. Heidi and I looked at each other and said, ‘Ted.’ I’m so grateful for that moment, He’s on stage 98.35 percent of the time. He’s an amazing guy and has taken leadership from the beginning. Even before our first table read, he invited the cast to Panera’s and they read six or seven times before our first read. By then, they’d created a dynamic. When they came on stage, they basically did a rehearsal.”
Lambrecht is thrilled to have the chance to see her work on stage and is grateful to Kia Fontaine, the Lyric’s executive director, for making it happen. She said that without her help, the dream of seeing the play staged would not have happened.
“I had no idea if ‘Get A. Grip’ would ever get on stage,” she said. “I have a new play that’s a rewrite of an old one. I’ve written it as a full-length play. I have no idea if I’ll ever perform it, but I have to write.”
If you are wondering about the spelling of the title, it has more than one meaning. To find out which one is the real one, you’ll have to go to the Lyric and see the show. In theatrical terms, that’s a tease.
“Get A. Grip,” by Linda Lambrecht, will be presented at the Lyric Theatre, 59 SW Flagler Ave., Stuart, Aug. 12 at 7 p.m. Tickets are 15. Call 772-286-7827 or visit www.lyrictheatre.com