Actor's Express opens Heavy Metal play 'Broadsword'

Actor's Express Theatre on Jan. 16 debuted its first production of its 23rd season, "Broadsword."

Despite losing 16 hours of rehearsal time and canceling a Jan. 13 preview due to the snow storm, Actor's Express Theatre on Jan. 16 debuted its first production of its 23rd season, ""

More than 100 people came to the Sunday night premiere. The play will run until Feb. 12 at the West Midtown theater in the King Plow Arts Center. 

"I thought it was very well done," said theater goer Howard Zaneman, an accountant who lives in Morningside.

"It managed to somehow encapsulate not only humor, but fantasy," added his friend Perry Etra, also of Morningside. 

The play tells the story of three former members of a heavy metal band called "Broadsword" who never became rock stars. The middle-aged men — and their die-hard groupie "Becca" (Stacy Melich) — reunite for the funeral of fourth band member "Richie," who was declared dead after going missing for six months.

The play is set in an unfinished basement where the band once practiced. Tensions mount with the arrival of Richie's brother "Tony" (Bryan Brendle), who left the band years ago to pursue a record deal. 

A mysterious musicologist, "Dr. Thorne" (Rial Ellsworth), pops onto the scene and informs the band that Richie is in fact alive. The missing band member, Dr. Thorne says, has fallen under the power of the "Demon King" and his fantastical composition. The band must perfectly play the music in order to bring Richie back.

But the men doubt their ability to succeed. "We are pretty unfit for the job of resurrecting the dead," band member-turned-bartender "Nicky" (Justin Welborn) says in the play. 

The comical play chronicles the band's struggle to come together. 

"It's just a hell of a joyride of a play," director Freddie Ashley said after the show. "I find the play to be a lot of fun ... And I'm not even a fan of heavy metal music."

Ashley, who came to Actor's Express in 2007,  said he was pleased with the play's first night. "I couldn't be happier with how it went off," he said.

Board members of the theatre agreed. "I thought it was neat the way it ended," said Midtown resident Jessica Linden, a board member since the early 1990s. Another board member Deborah Marshall, spokeswoman for the on Howell Mill Road, called the play "brilliant."

"We provide very interesting, cutting-edge theater," said Marshall, who also served on the board of in Inman Park. 

Actor's Express started in a church basement in 1988, Ashley said. The theater performs five to six productions each year. The company, Linden said, offers "theater that's out of the ordinary, theater that makes you think ... laugh ... and see things in a different light."

Etra said the theater puts on plays that are edgy or unusual. "You never know what you are going to get" at Actor's Express, Zaneman said. 

Performances of "Broadsword" are held Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m. There will be a matinee show Jan. 30 at 2 p.m. Tickets range from $25 to $32, depending on the performance date and method of purchase. People who buy tickets online save $2. 


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