‘Stay Over,’ a Dark Sex Comedy

From January 8 to January 31, 2009, Theater for the New City, Manhattan, will present “Stay Over” by Matt Morillo and Maria Micheles, directed by Morillo, a playwright/director hitherto best known for his rollicking and raunchy comedy, “Angry Young Women in Low Rise Jeans with High Class Issues.”

This new play is a comedy of what can happen to you when trying to make up after an infidelity. Mark and Michelle, a thirty-something couple, are settling in for an affectionate reconciliation on a snowy night in New York. Mark’s a bit of a rake, and Michelle had allowed him an outside affair, in the hope that he would “get it out of his system.” She relents on her tolerance when Lilly, the twenty-something dancer that Mark had dallied with, bursts into their apartment out of the snow, hoping to stay over.

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STAY OVER- L-R: JessAnn Smith as Lilly, Tom Pilutik as Mark, Lori Faiella as Michelle. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

The play spins hilarious comedy out of Mark’s game to have his cake and eat it too. He’s a cool operator, but he’s outsmarted and outmaneuvered by the two women, each of whom is a sexual marauder in her own right. He plots to escape with Lilly after his reconciliation with Michelle is completed. Michelle, determined to punish Mark for his dalliance, is equally determined to conceal that she had an affair of her own during their hiatus. Lilly is a dancer with a dazzling body, and she is testing her sexual power on Mark, who can’t resist her. To add insult to injury, she’s a family friend of Michelle. When these three settle in for the night, Mark’s apartment becomes a pressure-cooker for sexual chutzpah, stoked with strong temptations, daring stratagems and equally daring apologies.

The playscript is actually Matt Morillo’s comedic adaptation of “Sleepover” by Maria Micheles (2007), a gloomy dramatic treatment of a menage-a-trois in modern New York. It was produced to little notice by Theater for the New City in April, 2007. Morillo, whose metier is comedies on the mating game, saw in it the humorous potential of a play about three libertines trying to outsmart each other.

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Angry Young Women in LowRise Jeans with High-Class Issues at TNC in 2007. Tom Pilutik is on the left.
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Angry Young Women in Low Rise Jeans… at Hudson Mainstage in Hollywood.

This past fall, “Angry Young Women – ” played a six-week run at the Hudson Mainstage in L.A. where the reception was, shall we say, nothing to get mad about. Variety (Terry Morgan) called it a “cheerfully raunchy show” that “showcases a fearless cast in a sharp production.” L.A. Splash (Robert Petrarca) called the show “very successful in its appeal to the full house audience that surrounded me” and related, “an excited woman behind me averred ‘That was simply the best, the absolute best show I’ve seen’ as we huddled out the door. There seemed no lack of laughter through each vignette.”

Lilly will be played by JessAnn Smith, who is choreographing her own dances and writing and recording her own music for the part. Mark will be played by Tom Pilutik. Both appeared at TNC in “Angry Young Women – ” Michelle will be played by Lori Faiella. Set design is by Mark Marcante. Lighting Design is by Amith A. Chandrashaker. Costume design is by Nora Gustuson.

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All Aboard the Marriage Hearse- Nicholas J. Coleman and Jessica Durdock at Theater for the New City in 2008. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

Morillo has been a fixture on the New York independent film scene for the past ten years. After graduating film school, he made an auspicious debut at age 23 with his first feature, “The Pretenders (2000),” an award-winning romantic comedy. His subsequent short films, most notably “Maid of Honor (2003),” attracted numerous awards.

With his plays, he has shown himself to be a canny observer of the mating dances of the post-Clinton era. While “Angry Young Women – ” was a collection of skits, “The Marriage Hearse” and “Stay Over” both display an aptitude for the full length form that should keep Morillo’s scripts in actors’ hands for years to come. The TV-enriched, college-educated urban singles of Generation Y, with all their sexual brazenness, are given a New York stamp and a sly, often outrageous wit. The plays teem with verbal and situational humor, develop at a high velocity are almost completely without the extra “fat” of exposition, making them extremely actor-friendly.

Maria Micheles (co-author) has had plays produced at Theater for the New City, Brecht Forum, Manhattan Theatre Source, Bowery Poetry Club, Siberia, and WAH Center. She has been a member of Brooklyn Playwrights Collective and has helped produce the Artaud, Brecht and Chekhov festivals. She holds an MFA in playwriting.

“Stay Over” will be performed January 8 to 31, 2009 at Theater for the New City (Cabaret Theater), 155 First Avenue (at East Tenth Street), NYC. Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 3:00 pm. Tickets are $15.The box office number is (212) 254-1109. Online ticketing is available at www.theaterforthenewcity.net. The show’s website is www.stayoverplay.com.

Jonathan Slaff writes on cultural events from the brainy, the edgy and the good. He helps us keep ahead of the curve in the world of the arts and culture.