Emerging mayhem: No shrugs at new Offstage show

"Bring your lighters, your black t-shirts, and your old ladies," Denise Stewart jokes, issuing an invitation to the newest offering in Offstage Theater's growing list of productions, local playwright Joel Jones' Shrug Like You Mean It. Stewart, a recent graduate of the M.F.A. program at UVA, joins Tim Van Dyck as one of the two new artistic directors for the company that has a long history of producing plays in unlikely places.
Offstage does not have a permanent theatrical home. They put on their shows in a variety of venues: bars, outdoor amphitheaters, the local train station, warehouses-turned-theaters, often wherever an empty space exists.
For Shrug Like You Mean It, they have taken over the "Outer Space" of the new Plan 9 music store on The Corner, directly across the street from UVA. The show was originally planned for The Prism, but when that space did not work out, they went in search of a new spot, and with characteristic ingenuity secured one that is working out nicely, Stewart reports.
Van Dyck directs the cast of 10 Charlottesville actors in this premiere of Jones' play. If you've ever seen an Offstage production, you may recognize some of the faces. Megan Bengur, Michael Blinn, Zack Bonnie, Christian Breeden, Sean Chandler, Jacquie Harvey, Rebecca Hudnall, Missel Leddington, Brad Presley, Caroline Ridley, and Aer Stephen make up the cast. Though it does not bill itself formally as a company, many of the actors who appear in Offstage plays come back for repeat stints. The group has a reputation for being friendly, informal, and open to new talent, and that tends to attract loyal performers.
Shrug Like You Mean It is a comic story about how love grows, features "The Shrugtones," a rock 'n roll band. It includes an encounter with a guru of sorts and an incident with the FBI.
"Luckily, you can experience this mayhem vicariously through the lives of Eddie, Bobby, Sherri, Terri, and Agent Orange without ending up like Sean Cassidy," Stewart promises.

Catch the comedy December 5-8 and 12-14 at Plan 9 on the Corner. Shows begin at 8pm. Tickets, $8 at the door. Parking available behind Littlejohn's Deli. 244-8432.