2017-05-18 / Arts & Entertainment News

‘Frankly Funny’ promises laughs at Bonita center


Frank Blocker and Melissa Hennig 
COURTESY PHOTO Frank Blocker and Melissa Hennig COURTESY PHOTO In the mood for some belly laughs? How about some pop-culture parody presented by original characters? Throw in a bit of song, dance and audience participation and you’ve got “Frankly Funny,” a variety show created by actor and playwright Frank Blocker. Catch it at 8 p.m. Friday, May 19, at the Center for the Arts Bonita Springs.

Mr. Blocker, perhaps best known for his plays “Southern Gothic Novel” and “Stabilized Not Controlled,” came to Bonita Springs to work on another piece and although it didn’t work out, he connected with the arts center and became an improv and acting instructor. After staging both his plays, the center asked him to create a comedy show that showcases his specialty: inane characters and situations.

“Frankly Funny,” which also involves members of the center’s improv group, includes a series of bits called “Life Hacks from Hacks” with advice from a divorced divorce attorney and a life coach whose own lives are in shambles.

Playwright and actor Frank Blocker 
COURTESY PHOTO Playwright and actor Frank Blocker COURTESY PHOTO “We throw everything at you but the kitchen sink,” Mr. Blocker says about the variety of the skits. “We have monologues, sketches, live game shows, dark comedy and light comedy.

“We want everyone to go home laughing.”

On deck for the upcoming show is a 10-minute skit titled “Toil & Trouble” in which the three witches from “Macbeth” are recast as street people. There’s also an appearance by Kim Jong Un and a heavy dose of improv-inspired games (one called “Panel Discussion” allows Mr. Blocker to create a new show for each performance).

Mr. Blocker’s “Southern Gothic Novel” was nominated for a Drama Desk Award, and he won a number of titles at the 2012 Manhattan Monologue Slam. Aside from appearing in his own works, his theatrical roles over the years have included the role of Roderick Usher in Steven Berkoff’s “Fall of the House of Usher,” Mortimer in Brecht’s “Edward II” and a television appearance during season 12 of “Law & Order: SVU.”

At the heart of his original work is a desire to ensure audiences have a good time at his shows. When he recently staged “Stabilized Not Controlled” at the arts center, he was a little skeptical about how guests would react to the play’s explicit language. Thankfully, he says, the show was well received by locals.

“You’ve gotten up off your sofa, taken your car out and risked your life on our crazy highways to see our shows,” he said. “What I’m hoping for is that they get their money’s worth and have a good time overall. I want people to remember they had a really good time at the Center for the Arts. There’s a lot of things going on here; they don’t have to come back just to see me.”

His newest work, “Good Jew,” is based on his father-in-law’s interviews about his time as a teenaged prisoner at the Nazi concentration camp Treblinka. “He escaped Treblinka twice and had fascinating stories,” he says.

Still a work in progress, “Good Jew” is a departure for Mr. Blocker because first, it’s not a comedy and second, it requires a more extensive cast of characters than his other works have demanded.

Mr. Blocker divides his time between New York City and Bonita Springs. He didn’t plan to settle in Bonita Springs, but he says the arts center is a great place for him to work on new projects and entertain local audiences. ¦

‘Frankly Funny’

>> What: An original show by Frank Blocker with special guests Melissa Hennig, Don Fox and Judith Devine

>> Where: The Center for the Arts Bonita Springs

>> When: 8 p.m. Friday, May 19

>> Cost: $13.50-$15

>> Info: 495-8989 or www.artcenterbonita.org

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