Middle School is Hell. Especially for a seventh-grade girl somewhere in the 1980s whose ‘friends’ tease her relentlessly, whose father is an ogre, who desperately wants her mother to run away with their priest, and whose stupid science project is due, and she can find NO ONE to help her with it! Open Fist Theatre Company presents the world premiere of A Froggy Becomes, written by Becky Wahlstrom and directed by Pat Towne, opening March 9 and running through April 13 at Atwater Village Theatre.
This coming-of-age story is told through the eyes of Bumpy Diggs (Sandra Kate Burck), a scrappy little weirdo struggling to survive the troubles at home and the horrors of seventh grade. Through a rinky-dink science fair project gone awry, she ultimately discovers how she wants to live her life. It is a memory play steeped in magical realism. Replete with an ogre (Peter Breitmayer), flying priests, Satan worshippers, beer, Dorito’s bags, and of course, Madonna. A tale for grownups, Froggy is written from a middle schooler’s perspective. The world seems stacked against Bumpy, but her fight for self-determination inspires us to celebrate our own awkwardness and failures.
“I was inspired by the passion that lives within us during those transitional years. Puberty is a time when colors, smells, words, and kisses are vividly electric. I think that kind of passion is still there. We just need to wake it up every once in a while,” explains Wahlstrom. “My hope for Froggy is that it gives the audience strength to keep going because life is so hard and scary, and we have only two choices in the matter: live it or die. Bumpy chooses life no matter what, and she wants you to join her.”
Pat Towne (director) is an award-winning actor, director, and producer thrilled to be returning to Open Fist for the first time since he directed and co-produced their World Premiere production of Frank Zappa’s Joe’s Garage. Originally from Chicago, Pat was a founding member of the famed Annoyance Theatre, which recently celebrated its 35th anniversary. There he starred as The Clown in the longest-running musical in Chicago history – Coed Prison Sluts, and as Greg in The Real Live Brady Bunch; he eventually went on to direct The Bradys Off-Broadway. Acting credits include A Transparent Musical at the Mark Taper Forum; Rock of Ages Hollywood; Hoboken to Hollywood – LAWeekly Award, Best Musical; Stoneface: The Rise & Fall & Rise of Buster Keaton and Kiss Me Kate at the Pasadena Playhouse; Charles Busch’s Die, Mommie, Die! at The Kirk Douglas Theatre. Directing credits include Exorcistic: The Rock Musical Parody Experiment – Best Musical, Hollywood Fringe Festival; Ionesco’s Exit the King; Gorey Stories – Ovation Award, Best Musical; Ray Bradbury’s Kaleidoscope for SciFest Los Angeles. Television credits include Transparent, I Love Dick, Mad Men, Boston Legal, Desperate Housewives, Gilmore Girls among others.
Becky Wahlstrom (playwright) is excited to be working once again with Pat Towne and the Open Fist Theatre Company for the first time since she starred as Mary in their production of Frank Zappa’s Joe’s Garage – this time in the role of playwright. Becky is an American actress, best known as Grace Polk on CBS’ Joan of Arcadia. Other television credits include guest appearances on Nashville, NCIS, Mad Men, Grey’s Anatomy, 24, Cold Case, Numb3rs, Bones, Ghost Whisperer, CSI, Strong Medicine, Star Trek: Enterprise, Charmed, and Clueless. Film credits include Brightburn, A Dark Place, Megan Leavey, The Strip, Lucky 13, Sorority, The Opposite of Sex, and Straight Talk. Theatre credits include Fool in King Lear (Troutt Theater), Mary in Joe’s Garage (Open Fist Theatre); Patty Ann in Looking for Normal (Geffen Playhouse); Clarisse in Fahrenheit 451(The Falcon Theater).
A Froggy Becomes is one of three plays Becky has written. It was selected for a staged reading presentation in the DGA footlight series in Athens, Georgia and the Chicago New Works Festival at Three Cat Productions. Wahlstrom won the 2018 Tennessee Arts Commission Award for Playwrights. Her first play, In Stitches, won Chaffin Barn’s “Clash of the Playwrights” and was produced there in 2017. It is scheduled for production in fall of 2024 at The Dark Horse Theatre in Nashville, TN.
The cast features Deandra Bernardo, Peter Breitmayer, Sandra Kate Burck, Kyra Grace, Jeremy Guskin, Ana Id, Carmella Jenkins, Michael Lanahan, Johanna McKay, Bradley Sharper, Tom Sys, and Kyle Tomlin.
Open Fist Theatre Company is a collective, self-producing artistic enterprise with all facets of its operation run by its artist members. The company’s name combines the notion that an open spirit, embracing all people and all ideas, is essential, with the idea that determination, signified by a fist, is necessary if the theater is to remain a vital voice for social change and awareness.
A Froggy Becomes runs March 2 through April 13, with performances taking place on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m., with three preview Pay What You Want performances on Saturday, March 2, Sunday, March 3, and Friday, March 8. General admission to all performances is $30, with $25 tickets available to seniors and veterans, and $20 tickets available to those under 30 years of age. Atwater Village Theatre is located at 3269 Casitas Ave in Los Angeles, CA 90039. Parking is free in the ATX (Atwater Crossing) parking lot one block south of the theater. Appropriate for ages 12 and up.
To purchase tickets and for more information call (323) 882-6912 or go to www.openfist.org.