Spring is a perfect time for a baseball-themed theatre show, and Ed Milaney figured he’d make his pitch to do one solo, a one-man monologue.
Milaney is the outgoing artistic director of Naked Stage, a company devoted to “readers theatre” productions at the venue on 72nd Avenue.
“I don’t know if this show’s been done in Surrey, it just intrigued me,” Milaney, a Surrey Civic Treasure award winner with more than 50 years of stage experience, told the Now-Leader.
“This is something new for me, brand new, because I directed six shows in a year and a half (for Naked Stage), so I felt I earned the right to indulge myself, because six shows in that amount of time is a lot,” he added with a characteristic laugh.
Milaney chose to dig into a play set in the clubhouse of the “cathedral of baseball,” Yankee Stadium.
The script, not surprisingly, follows the adventures of New York Yankees great Yogi Berra, who in 1999 returned to the legendary Bronx stadium following a 14-year absence.
“Of course, I’m an old baseball fan and grew up watching the Yankees play the Dodgers in the World Series, and I always rooted against the Yankees but you couldn’t root against Yogi Berra,” Milaney explained.
“It’s just fun, he’s a nice character, a fun character. He wasn’t very well-educated and, as we know, he mutilated the English language, but he was actually brilliant when it came to baseball. He didn’t have much knowledge in anything else, though.”
Milaney suggested that a baseball fan will appreciate Tom Lysaght’s Nobody Don’t Like Yogi script more than a non-fan.
“Berra had that great big, long feud with (Yankees owner) George Steinbrenner, and he avoided Yankee Stadium for a lot of years,” he explained. “So this story is told on the day he comes back. He threw out the first pitch, and Don Larsen was there, the guy he caught during his perfect game in the World Series years before that, and that night, that game (in 1999), the Yankees pitcher threw a no-hitter, so it was kind of full-circle, but the play itself is a reflection of (Berra’s) life, as well.”
As with all Naked Stage productions, only a script and chair will be made available to Milaney – no costume or set required. A “naked” stage serves as a sort of blank canvas for the company’s actors to do their thing.
“I’m talking to characters all around,” Milaney explained, “and the biggest adjustment I had to make, because actors are used to working off of each other, and I’m rehearsing and suddenly I realize I’m not working off anybody, I have to take that extra step myself. I can do it, but it just surprised me that it needed to be done. I should have realized that, but didn’t. We learn.”
Nobody Don’t Like Yogi is the first solo show for Naked Stage, which has done eight productions at the Newton venue since the company was launched in 2016.
Last time around, for a mid-March run, an entertaining production of Jacques Plante and the Parkdale Knitting League was directed by Colleen McGoff Dean, who will assume Milaney’s role as the company’s artistic director, moving forward.
“This will be my last show with this group, officially,” Milaney said. “It’s just time for someone else to take over my job, and I’ve done my thing, and enjoyed it.”
Tickets are $15 for Nobody Don’t Like Yogi, to be performed on Friday, June 8 and Saturday, June 9 at 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday, June 10 at 2 p.m. The venue is located at 13530 72nd Ave., Surrey. To purchase tickets online, visit yogi.brownpapertickets.com.
Under McGoff Dean’s artistic direction, Naked Stage’s 2018-2019 season will include productions of The Savannah Sipping Club (in September), Waiting for the Parade (November), Alabama Story (March) and Trying (June).
“Specific dates for each production will be announced this summer,” the company notes. “Check our website (nakedstage.net) for details. Better yet, sign up for our mailing list and be among the first to know about our upcoming production dates and other events.”
Auditions for the next season be held Sunday, July 29, from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Newton Cultural Centre. For more details, contact Colleen McGoff Dean (firstname.lastname@example.org).