alp d’ huez

alp d' huez photo by kyle cassidy
alp d’ huez photo by kyle cassidy

Written for Jennifer Summerfield

Alp D’ Huez is the famous mountain stage of the Tour De France, glorified for its dramatic twists of brutal climbs and thrilling descents. While cheering on Lance Armstrong’s attack to the top of Alp D’ Huez, Evan, a married man alone on vacation meets a beautiful woman. Evan and this woman follow Lance Armstrong across France on his path to an unprecedented sixth Tour de France championship. Meanwhile, Evan’s wife Joanna decides to surprise Evan by flying to Paris for the victory lap. Evan returns to his hotel room to retrieve a forgotten camera and is terrified to find his wife asleep in the bed. Evan must quickly decide whether to wake up his wife or run off and start a new life.

Starring Jennifer Summerfield and John Rosenberg

Written by John Rosenberg

Directed by Josh McIlvain

Preview by Philadelphia Weekly

Preview by City Paper 
Reviewed by Phindie.com
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the production of alp d’  huez

Alp’d huez was a beautiful thing from start to finish. Alp D’ huez starts and ends and is Jennifer Summerfield.

well, actually no, the play begins with someone’s personal heartbreak. the idea for the play came from a horrible moment that happened to a woman i know. She was on vacation with her husband in europe and he told her he met someone else and she should find her own way home. when i heard about it, i was shocked that it happened and just tried to imagine what it must have been like at the time.  so i tried to write a play about it.

i heard about this in i think the summer of 2011 and started to think about it in my head. i thought it would be an awesome vehicle for jennifer summerfield, an actor of enormous talent i had kinda worked with in connection with josh mcilvain of smokeyscout.  she was incredibly smart, gave pure honesty on stage and was just a straight shooter. i talked to jennifer in august of 2011 and told her the idea for the thing and that i wanted to do it some time in 2012.  i think she was polite in blowing me off. haha. at the time i was working on another play…automatic fault isolation, this was march of 2012 and i would cast early for the fall show.  i reached out to jennifer but she had other shit she was booked for so i went out and got a great pair of actors, chris davis and leslie berkowitz. they were awesome.  but honestly i wanted jennifer and was heehaw that i couldnt get her.

but chris and leslie were great, they were younger, which gave it different feel.  i was excited to watch leslie as the wife get broken. i put it away in my head since i was gearing up for the gambling room. i dont know how it happened, but i reached out to jennifer again, hoping i could get her and offered her more money than i could pay her and she said yes to doing the thing.  this was probably around may or june 2012.  i didnt have a script written, had the idea in my head and knew it was going up in october. i knew it would work with chris and jennifer as a married couple, even though they had played one in carter’s play for josh mcilvain. it just didnt seem right in my head. i didnt have someone else, but i let chris and lesile know i got someone else for the show and was terribly sorry but was going another direction with the thing. i figured since i didnt have anyone else to do the thing, i would do it with jennifer.  i am not sure how she felt about that prospect.  haha. i think she wanted a clean script by the end of august, since she was booked to do another show that would run in september and then close the same weekend we would open.  i would imagine jennifer had some trepidation about the thing, but she went ahead with the thing. the turn i finished the run of automatic fault isolation in june of 2012 and started working on the script for alp ‘d huez. i am pretty sure i wrote it in about two months, which was a hell of a lot less of time than i had done other things.

i turned a corner with the thing in tunisia, i dont remember what it was in my head, but with each play i remember when it goes from being weak to something else and i remember it happened in tunisia.

josh me and jennifer met in her house in west philly and started rehearsing some time in late august. she was rehearsing at night for another show, so most of our shit was done during afternoons and on weekends.  it was just the two of us, playing in her living room ,using the furniture there to dictate the movement and shit. after a week or so, i realized i needed someone watching us and pushing us the right way.

i had become good friends with josh mcilvain over the previous year or two, both of us developed a trust with work and seemed to lsiten to each other.  i directed him in his play carter’s play earlier in the year and this seemed like a good thing, i directed him in his thing, he direct me in my thing. i think the great thing that came out of josh directing alp, other than becoming better friends and having built trust with someone who does shit, is that he was very specific about the emotional topography of the show.  super precise.  i know with my shit, i never know what  a thing is until it shows up….with josh, he knows what a thing is and pushes you to be there with the emotion.  i am all over the place and like to see something different with ever performance (i think)…alp d’ huez was meant to be a streamlined, sleek, clean fucking thing that came out of the gate hard until the end.  in terms of performance, if it was a stage in the tour de france, it would be a time trial, bang it out, max it out to the end.

whoa shit

me and jennifer were born at the same hospital in panorma city, california.

the first performance, i cut off jennifer on a line where i repeat what she just said but i did it super condescending and she snapped, ‘will you fucking let me finish?!’  monster moment from a monster actor.

kensington shit

someone broke into the theater and stole the sound board and an alarm clock between shows.  thanks.

A critic from the PW got stopped by the police after the show because they thought she was a prostitute.

Josh had talked me into applying for arts funding from the pew center. they sent out site visitors to see the show.

i later learned that one hated it, one was eh and one was super into it.

it turned out one needed a ride after the show and yoel, my father in law gave her a ride to center city. at some point he turned to his brother who was also in the car and laughed that they could kidnap this woman and no one would ever know what happened to her.

Still trying to figure which site visitor hated the show.