WILL TRANSFORM TIMES SQUARE’S
LIBERTY THEATER FOR
Stageworks Media presents Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Brothers Booth -- an immersive, time-traveling theatrical experience created by Cynthia von Buhler and directed by Wes Grantom (Eager to Lose at Ars Nova). Ms. von Buhler’s Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Bloody Beginning has, over the past two years, become one of the city's most unique, interactive, and surreal theatrical experiences. Once again, Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Brothers Booth brings Ms. von Buhler’s unique brand of historic fiction investigation to the legends of John Wilkes and Edwin Booth. Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Brothers Booth is performed monthly on Saturday evenings (usually the first Saturday of the month) at The Players Club (16 Gramercy Park South). Tickets are now on sale through July 2014. For tickets and more information, visit www.speakeasydollhouse.com.
According to Speakeasy Dollhouse creator Cynthia von Buhler, “Edwin Booth, a staunch Lincoln supporter, was honored by the president -- and even saved Lincoln’s son Robert from being crushed by a train shortly before the president’s assassination. Edwin, the more successful actor, divided the map allowing John Wilkes the opportunity to only perform in the South, while he ruled in the more desirable North. Every book I read on the family claimed that John Wilkes was his parent’s favorite. Their mother, Mary Ann, constantly told the boys of her prophesies about their destiny, leading them to become self-fulfilling. My research has led me to believe that Abraham Lincoln may have been murdered as a result of sibling rivalry, and not because of John Wilkes’ great love of the confederacy. The Brothers Booth encourages audiences to roam Edwin Booth's former mansion in search for the truth. Utilizing Shakespearean themes, longtime conspiracy theories, and surreal vignettes, Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Brothers Booth weaves together a story of the brothers' troubled lives.” The Speakeasy Dollhouse experience begins with a series of emails from Cynthia von Buhler featuring actual news articles, investigative dollhouse recreations and a password. The given password is to be whispered to a newsboy on the street in the back of Edwin Booth’s Greek Revival mansion -- now home to The Players, a real- life club for luminaries of all eras from Mark Twain and John Singer Sargent to Liza Minnelli and Jimmy Fallon. Ushered via a secret entrance into the club’s opulent ballroom, the audience is swept into a splendorous scene: The November 13, 1919 gala unveiling of a life-sized bronze statue of Edwin, a legendary Shakespearean actor and the club’s founder. A newsboy announces the statue unveiling along with other breaking news: the Volstead Act has been passed and the John Wilkes Booth mummy has been stolen from the circus. Bootleg cocktails, burlesque, gambling, and live jazz are staples of the evening’s festivities. Scandals abound. The troubled relationship between handsome and impetuous John Wilkes and brilliant but brooding Edwin unravels as a series of surreal vignettes which swirl around partygoers and echo throughout the many rooms of the mansion. Because guests have the freedom of movement and to initiate interactions in the space, each experience is unique. While it pays not to be shy, even those who wish only to observe will be surrounded by eye-raising conversation, rousing music, dramatic performance, evocative puppetry, and haunting séances and spirit photography. Artist and author Cynthia von Buhler is the creator of the Speakeasy Dollhouse series. Her first play, The Bloody Beginning, is an immersive theatrical hit that explores the murder of von Buhler’s Italian immigrant grandfather, Frank Spano. A speakeasy owner, Spano was shot and killed on a Manhattan street in 1935. Though the shooter was caught, his case was inexplicably dismissed, leaving the question of motive forever unanswered. Long haunted by the mystery, von Buhler, whose mother was born the day her grandfather died, began interviewing family members about the killing and scouring autopsy reports, police records, and court documents. Inspired by a 1940s investigative technique called "nutshell studies," von Buhler first recreated the crime scene in an elaborate dollhouse diorama (which can be explored on location during each performance). Von Buhler brought her miniature set to life in Speakeasy Dollhouse, which was first intended to be a one-night theatrical staging (funded via Kickstarter). It has since become a hot underground theater ticket, consistently sold out, since it began in 2011. The cast of Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Brothers Booth features Eric Gravez, Ryan Wesen, Russell Farhang and Tansy, as well as Jonas Barranca, Victor Barranca, Chrissy Basham, Daniel Burns, Laura Epperson, Chris Fink, Katelan Foisy, E. James Ford, Francine the Lucid Dream, Skyler Max Gallun, Ashley Grombol, Jenny Harder, Lord Kat, Alexandra Kopko, Delysia LaChatte, Stacee Mandeville, Justin Moore, Travis Moore, Dan Olson, Erin Orr, William Otterson, Natalie Rich, Hannah Rose, Samantha Rosenrater, Sarah Vogt, Silent James, and Allen Wilcox. Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Brothers Booth is the first show of its kind to be staged at The Players Club, which was founded in 1888 by Edwin Booth, America's pre-eminent Shakespearean actor, and 15 other incorporators (including Mark Twain and General William Tecumseh Sherman). The Players was the first American club of its kind. Its purpose: "The promotion of social intercourse between members of the dramatic profession and the kindred professions of literature, painting, architecture, sculpture and music, law and medicine, and the patrons of the arts . . ." Today, leaders from a variety of professions in the arts, business, and commerce enjoy The Players' unique spirit of conviviality and discourse. 2014 marks the 125th anniversary of The Players Club. Cynthia von Buhler’s Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Brothers Booth, directed by Wes Grantom, is presented monthly (Saturday evening performances) at The Players Club (16 Gramercy Park South). The first performance was Saturday, March 1, 2014 (Press Opening). Tickets are currently on sale for the following Saturdays: April 5th at 8pm; May 3rd at 8pm; June 7th at 8 pm; and July 12th at 8pm. Tickets, which must be purchased in advance, are priced at $75 (general admission) and $125 (exclusive access to the VIP lounge with VIP-only scenes). Tickets are available by visiting www.speakeasydollhouse.com.
"an ornately turned-out, unique, and well-produced experience.” - Flavorpill
"Thrilling and delighting all of the senses." - The Huffington Post
"The Speakeasy Dollhouse project also consists of a gorgeous book, and an immersive play, along with the handmade dolls and sets." - Gothamist
"think The Dollhouse Murders meets Some Like It Hot meets The Godfather." - Publisher's Weekly
"The Speakeasy Dollhouse is an inspired and unique mission, and the period aesthetics of the set are also begging to be admired." - Bust
"Don't miss your chance to see this truly unique show." - Joonbug
"Speakeasy Dollhouse is an ingenious project jam-packed with creativity." - Show Business
"A unique interactive play. Great theatre." - Lonely Planet Travel
"The acting was superb." - WBAI NYC Radio
"Speakeasy makes no jokes about the immersion." - Metro
“I was seduced by Cynthia von Buhler's artwork: her styles are protean but always appropriate, her eye is observant, her hand is keen. She's a wonder.” – Neil Gaiman