Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI)
Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI)

In a bit of a departure from their usual adaptation of revered, Shakespearean works, the Community College of Rhode Island Players are bringing levity to their 2022–23 season opener.

The Players launch their fall schedule Thursday, October 20 with Clown Bar, a “clown (film) noir,” according to playwright Adam Szymkowicz, that explores the journey of a former clown-turned-detective desperate to find his brother’s killer.

Directed by CCRI Associate Performing Arts Professor Luke Sutherland, Clown Bar premiers with a 7:30 pm show October 20 at the Bobby Hackett Theatre followed by an additional 7:30 performance on October 21; 2 and 7:30 pm performances on Saturday, October 22; and a 2 pm matinee on October 23. Tickets are priced at $12 for general admission and $10 for seniors and CCRI students, faculty, and staff and can be purchased online at ShowTix4U.com.

In Clown Bar, ex-clown Happy Mahoney is living out his dream as a detective until his brother, Timmy, is murdered. Happy begrudgingly returns to his former place of employment, The Clown Bar, to ask questions, only to come face-to-face with unresolved issues from his past. The play follows Happy as he tries to solve the crime and avoid being sucked back into the seedy underbelly of organized clown crime.

As Sutherland describes it, Clown Bar is “pretty light.” After a year’s worth of thought-provoking, and often heavy, adaptations that included Mike O’Malley’s Three Years from Thirty and William Shakespeare’s Othello, Sutherland wanted to open the 2022–23 season on more of a lighthearted note. 

“Imagine Casablanca or China Town being told by clowns,” he said.

Sutherland was inspired to bring Clown Bar to CCRI after watching an adaption at Theatre on Fire in Boston. With this being the first comedy he’s directed, he brought in a few reinforcements to help the Players acclimate themselves to their roles, including fellow CCRI adjunct Anthony Goes, who, coincidentally, has years of formal clown training under his belt and worked with the performers on perfecting the physical comedy required in Clown Bar.

Sutherland also initiated contact with the playwright, Szymkowicz, for rights to the original music used in Clown Bar, leaving no stone unturned in presenting audiences with an authentic production of Szymkowicz’s work.

“I’m very traditional,” Sutherland said. “We’re going after the intention of the playwright.”

The production stars Christopher Ricci (Smithfield, RI) as Happy Mahoney, Allison Wong (Barrington, RI) as Timmy, Lia Pinto (Rumford, RI) as Blinky Fatale, Brandon Soriano (Providence, RI) as Bobo the Boss Clown, Aiden Caruso (Warwick, RI) as Dusty the Crooner, Abbey Pezza (Saunderstown, RI) as Petunia the Bar Maid, Tevin Lima (Pawtucket, RI) as Twinkles the Card Dealer, Diego Torres (Westerly, RI) as Giggles the Bouncer, Luigi Cubelotti (Johnston, RI) as Shotgun MacGhee the Bartender, and Mireya Hoffens (Providence, RI) as Popo the Hitwoman.

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