Trustus Theatre is baring it all as they produce the Tony nominated The Motherf**ker With the Hat on the Thigpen Main Stage. This show for adults-only audiences explores the reality of relationships becoming complicated and challenged by issues of loyalty, lust, love and addiction. The Motherf**ker With the Hat opens on the Thigpen Main Stage tonight, February 8th at 8:00pm.
The decision to produce The Motherf**ker With the Hat was directly related to Trustus' return to producing modern scripts that begged audiences to "trust" the 28 year old theatre company. This show with the unprintable title opened on Broadway in 2011 with screen stars Chris Rock and Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire) in the original cast. The show was nominated for "Best Play" by many of the industry's top awards: The Tony Awards, Drama Desk Awards, Drama League Awards, and the Outer Critic Circle Awards. The show paints a true portrait of a human experience complicated by struggles with addiction and love. Even though the title is controversial, Trustus bravely added it to their 28th season knowing that audiences in Columbia were still craving shows that were challenging, revealing, had great characters, and still had room for some unexpected laughter.
The Motherf**ker With the Hat is a high-octane verbal cage match about love, fidelity and misplaced haberdashery. Struggles with addiction, friendship, love and the challenges of adulthood are at the center of the story. New York City sets the backdrop for this ethnically and culturally diverse cast of characters. Jackie, a petty drug dealer, is just out of prison and trying to stay clean. He's also still in love with his coke-addicted childhood sweetheart, Veronica. Ralph D. is Jackie's too-smooth, slightly slippery sponsor. He's married to the bitter and disaffected Victoria, who, by the way, has the hots for Jackie. And then there's Julio, Jackie's cousin ... a stand-up, "stand by me" kind of guy. Our story begins as Jackie comes home to Veronica after just being hired for the first time since he got out of prison. When he discovers a man's hat by the bed that's not his - Jackie is thrown into a roller-coaster string of events. His parole, his sobriety, all his friendships all come under pressure as he tries to find out who the "motherf**ker with the hat" is.
Director Chad Henderson, recently awarded the Jasper Magazine Artist of the Year in Theatre, is at the helm of the project. "I've been jumping at the bit to work on this show," said Henderson. "It's been over a year since I've worked on a non-musical, and I couldn't be more thrilled that THIS is the show I get to work on." The title alone could make audiences anticipate that the material in the show is adult, but Henderson assures that "any of the nudity or language in the show is a product of the realism this piece necessitates." He explains, "Think about it - if you've ever been in a stressful situation or argument you've probably used some 'unsavory' language. And in regards to the nudity - well, when you've got a story about people's sex lives crashing into each other's you could expect that they might find themselves with their clothes off."
Henderson often tries to cross-pollinate with Columbia Artists when he works on a production. For Motherf**ker, he started a collaboration with local hip-hop artist Preach Jacobs in order to produce a totally original score for the show. "I'd wanted to work with a local musician on a non-musical for some time now," said Henderson. "I knew I wanted something modern for Motherf**ker. Then the stars aligned and Preach and I were able to get together and collaborate on this production, bringing his unique brand of hip-hop to the world of the story."
The cast of The Motherf**ker With the Hat is a collection of brave and talented performers some of whom are making their Trustus debut. A graduate of the Rutgers MFA Acting program, Alexis Casanovas makes his Trustus debut as the newly sober and employed Jackie. Raia Jane Hirsch (Pride and Prejudice), who studied at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, makes her Trustus debut as Jackie's wild girlfriend Veronica. Shane Silman (Plan 9 From Outer Space) returns to the Trustus stage as Jackie's AA sponsor, Ralph D. Trustus company members Michelle Jacobs (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) and Joe Morales (August: Osage County) round out the cast as Victoria (Ralph's wife) and Cousin Julio (Jackie's cousin from Puerto Rico).
The production team boasts the work of many talented designers from Columbia. Scenic Designer Kimi Maeda has created the world of Motherf**ker by using periactoi (three sided revolves) that allow the set to rapidly morph into three specific locales. Trustus company member Danny Harrington returns to design the lighting after working on this season's Next Fall, and Brandi Smith (Next Fall) designs costumes. The talents of these designers ensure a rich production for Trustus patrons.