Alliance Theatre Lab Mixes Comedy and Morality in Lobby Hero

The idea of a funny doorman is perfectly logical. The job puts people in their line of vision for exactly ten seconds, prompting short conversations every time they enter and exit the building -- a situation that seems almost designed for the cultivation of witty one-liners.

Maybe that's what playwright Kenneth Lonergan was thinking about when his Lobby Hero opened in an off-Broadway theater in New York ten years ago --- a play the Alliance Theatre Lab will tackle starting November 10 at the Main Street Playhouse in Miami Lakes.

Then again, maybe Lonergan had more complex moral issues on his mind.

The comedy centers, after all, on moral dilemmas. Jeff, our screw-up, funny-guy security guard, is trying to stay out of trouble, but keeps stumbling into new messes. There's been a vicious murder, and William, Jeff's straight-man superior, has a no-good brother who might have been involved. Does William blow the whistle, or keep his mouth shut? Bill, a bad-guy cop, and Dawn, his wide-eyed rookie partner, add to the humorous mix of characters and situations in this lauded script, directed by Adalberto Acevedo.

Acevedo said he was blown away by the play's writing, and particularly by the main character.

"He's a bit of a fuck up. But he does not like to be called a doorman. Don't ever call him a doorman! He's a 'security guard,'" says Acevedo. "The play is about a moral struggle. Do you do what's right? Do you follow your own morals and your own beliefs that you've set up for yourself, go along with your scruples? Or do you look the other way if it's family? Or when do you cross that line?"

The director said he also chose the play for the diverse, engaging, and even the violent elements it offers.

"At the Alliance, we do a lot of violent shows, and shows that are cutting edge," Acevedo says. "People have said, 'Oh, they're just this edgy little theater that constantly does violent shows.' And the truth is, that yeah, our shows are violent, and this show does have violence, but it's internal violence. It's emotional violence. These characters are wounded on the inside, and it's a bit of a thriller, it's a bit of a comedy, it's a bit of a romance, it's got everything."

As far as preparing for the play, the director said it's been light work. "We're sitting there in rehearsal going, man, it's easy to put on a good show when you've got a good piece to work with. The playwright has done the work for us, because it's really beautiful."

The play opens at 8 p.m. on Thursday, November 10, and runs Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 5 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. through November 27 at the Main Street Playhouse. Tickets cost $10 to $25. Go to alliancetheatrelab.com or call 305-259-0418.

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