Welcome Phil Scarpaci to NoHo, creator of the show Baby Oh Baby.
PHIL SCARPACI (Writer-Director) has a diverse background directing Theatre, Film and Television. Notable stage credits include World Premieres of Consider the Tulips and The Abbey Yard. He also helmed the hysterically acclaimed Greater Tuna, the political drama All the Kings Men, Skirmishes and Chekhov’s The Bear and The Proposal. Award-winning feature films include “Blue Bus”, “In the Key of Eli”, “Welcome to September”, and “A Doll In The Dark”. Recent television credits include the sitcom pilot “Swallow Your Bliss” which he also co-created and multiple episodes of action series “SAF3” filmed on location in South Africa. Mr. Scarpaci has also been honored with prestigious awards for Excellence in Children’s programming on several series for Disney.
Interview with Baby Oh Baby Writer-Director Phil Scarpaci playing at the Whitefire.
When did you first get interested in theatre?
I didn’t get involved in theater until my college years in Eugene, Oregon. While acting in my very first show, Man of La Mancha, I played three very different characters and had a blast. It was a huge show with a long spring and summer run. I was hooked.
How did your first directing experience come about? What did you learn from the experience?
In my mid 20’s I discovered directing. It really was a no brainer for me as it allowed me to draw on all of my creative background – – music, dance, acting, painting, drawing and design. And since I’ve always been a storyteller, directing offered me a great opportunity to do that. What I learned right away about directing was that if you want to direct….direct. No one is going to hand it to you and you really need to be a self-starter.
Did you have a mentor or mentors along the way?
I was very lucky to have a few mentors along the way. In the late 70s at the Group Repertory Theatre, Lonny Chapman was a great mentor and a big influence. Also Leo Penn (Sean’s dad) took me under his wing and introduced me to the world of television directing. In addition, Dennis Weaver was so generous in countless ways when I was starting out. I was very fortunate to have those men in my life at such an early age. They saw something in me and did what they could to encourage me to pursue it. I always try to do the same for young upcoming talent.
Tell us a bit about the play and what might the audience take away from the experience of having seen it.
Baby Oh Baby is an exploration of how the ticking biological clock affects everyone’s behavior. It’s not just the women. It’s also the men who have to deal with the women dealing with that crazy ticking clock. This story is a comedic look at how that pressure can drive women to do some pretty crazy things. My hope is the audience leaves the theatre feeling better than when they arrived.
You and T.L. Shannon have co-written Baby Oh Baby. Assuming you grew up and have been living in the United States, how did you go about combining your comic sensibilities with those of T.L. who is British?
Based on an original story by T. L., I wrote Baby Oh Baby with a British slang dictionary opened on my desktop. Our collaboration is such that he spews out an idea, kind of a stream of consciousness that is usually quite long and covers a lot of territory. Getting it out of his head is a starting point for me and after he’s done saying what he wants to say, he passes it to me. I flesh out the idea and work on it in more detail, i.e. developing relationships, character arcs, conflicts, structure, and the physical comedy. In addition, a focused story arc that comes from multiple ideas to one means something to me. The process works really well for both of us. We stay out of each other’s way and have a lot of laughs when we are together.
The characters are quirky and delightful. Will we, perhaps, see them again?
I’m really staying focused on the process at hand which is to get this first production on its feet at the Whitefire. We will see what happens after that. I do love these characters and can’t seem to get enough of them…
You are predominantly a filmmaker. What brings you back to creating theater?
The reality is I have been in and out of theatre my entire career but I have been making my living in film and television. As I was writing Baby Oh Baby, the characters and the situations were very interesting to me on a personal level and I felt that there was a certain live theatrical element to the material making it a better fit for the stage than film.
What’s up next for you?
As we have been developing this play I have also been filming a documentary of the process. It’s titled “From Page to Stage” which will continue to shoot with the editing to start once the show opens.
If you could choose any profession what would it be?
Doing exactly what I’m doing. Being involved in film, theatre and television is my passion. This is also my profession and I have been fortunate enough to do it my entire adult life.
Baby Oh Baby runs Saturdays at 8:00 pm, March 19 – June 4. Advance Purchased Tickets: $20. Tickets at the door: $25. Discount Tickets Students/Seniors with ID; Groups of 10 or more: $15. Buy advance tickets babyohbaby.brownpapertickets.com or 800-838-3006. Adult humor appropriate for ages 18+. Mature audiences only. The play contains sexually charged dialogue and subject matter. The Whitefire Theatre is located at 13500 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks 91423
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