Anderson‘Ville’ show pushes limits

By Steven Schnarr

The scene opened with writhing bed sheets and soft moaning. Whispers could be heard of a woman’s voice saying, “You’re going to lick me there?” When the sheets fell off, only one character emerged with a cell phone in hand. Promptly, three backup singers walked out in their underwear and socks to sing with the woman into her phone about her VGF, or virtual girlfriend.

That was a brief glimpse from “The Ville,” a drama exploring the struggles and triumphs of a group of fictional LGBT and straight residents of the Andersonville neighborhood. It gathers a variety of styles, such as soap opera, comedy and musical, and wraps them into one larger-than-life performance. The show has been running since June 2007 at Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark St., with a different show every month in a TV-series style expressed through theatrical transitions and musical numbers.

The second season finale began on Nov. 10, and runs through Dec. 15. The show opens with the song “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” by Cake and continues with original scores about the character Alex’s virtual girlfriend and more. Reg and Leo celebrate Christmahanukwanzikah (a mix of Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanza), and the cast even sings a piece about President-elect Barack Obama. The show runs about 70 minutes.

“I wouldn’t say there’s nothing else like us,” said Jeffrey Bouthiette, a creator and co-director of “The Ville.” “But we are certainly the only one I know of.”

During the Nov. 24 performance, the audience of about 35 broke out in applause and laughter at songs with lyrics like, “A Santa, Buddha and Zoroaster mix/and also chicks with d–ks.”

Bouthiette said the show’s audience starts with the LGBT community but expands by also incorporating straight characters.

“I think the stories appeal to a broad audience,” he said. “When it’s funny, people want to come.”

Rebekah Walendzak, a creator and co-director of the show, said it revolves around stories not usually present in modern TV.

“It’s people who love each other, whether they’re gay or straight, thin or fat, black or white, or whatever,” she said. “We see people on the street, and that’s what we want to present. [We bring] a really good time. [We] laugh and cry, and show some boobs.”

The show pushes the boundaries of what can and can’t be shown legally, and they skirt right along the edge, Bouthiette said.

The idea for “The Ville” was first discussed between Bouthiette and Walendzak when they sent messages via MySpace about incorporating ideas into a show that support the mission of their production company Bare Boned Theater, Walendzak said.

Bouthiette said most of the ideas for the show come from their experiences and discussions. They said they have considered doing pieces about having sex with the mentally challenged, which they decided against, or sleeping with their own clone, which they included in a performance.

Audience member Carolyn Wilson, a pharmaceutical project manager and resident of Andersonville, said she has been to every performance of “The Ville.”

“I think that [‘The Ville’ makes] the soap-opera genre a way to spotlight real social issues,” she said. “They use comedy and raunchiness and music … a lot of ways to break down the barriers.”

Actress Lauran Osborn, who was in the audience and unaffiliated with “The Ville,” said she usually sticks to watching larger theater productions but said it is nice to be able to see smaller shows.

“Some of the best things I’ve seen in the city aren’t from the top three theaters-they’re from storefront theaters,” she said. “They don’t have a subscription base to pander to. They’re just doing it because they love it.”

After the season finale, the show will continue in January. In addition, five or six new writers and a few new characters will be introduced, Walendzak said.

“The Ville”

Tickets: Purchase at the door for $10. $2 off for college students, and $1 off with donation of canned goods for charity.

Showtimes: Dec. 1, 8 and 15 at 8 p.m.

Location: Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark St.

For more information, visit