Lucio Fernandez, a lifelong artist and Union City’s commissioner of Public Affairs, has written a new play that asks some very important questions: “Have you ever been afraid of your wife or girlfriend?” “What if you met the perfect woman, the woman of your dreams, the woman who had everything you ever wanted but couldn’t find – and all she is interested in is seeing you suffer?”
This is the basic concept behind his new dark comedy, “Till Death,” in which he stars along with Ruth Kavanagh.
The world premiere will be held at The Producers’ Club Theatre, 358 W. 44th St. in New York City on Wednesday, Nov. 20 at 8 p.m. with a VIP reception following the performance, which runs until Nov. 24. Kavanagh plays the multi-faceted perfect woman wishing to help Fernandez’s desperately delusional and suicidal “Tony.”
Growing up in Union City, Fernandez said he saw a number of Hispanic males who were “Latin Lovers” and not only had a sweet woman at home, but a main lover on the side, as well as a few other women.
While he set the play in New York City, he was reflecting experiences back his hometown of Union City.
“The man in this play loses everything because of his womanizing and is trying to kill himself, but he keeps messing it up,” he said.
“This is a dark comedy that some guys might be afraid to go see.” – Lucio Fernandez
“This is a dark comedy that some guys might be afraid to go see,” Fernandez said with a laugh. “He’s not very good at trying to kill himself, but she keeps on helping him, even though he keeps failing. She is enjoying the whole ride. It’s ridiculous, but he does it very seriously. The woman is everything he could possibly want in his life: girlfriend, wife, other woman, mother, slut, best friend, a fun person. She is the perfect woman. But she wants to see him suffer. He tries everything. He feels all the pain. But he is just not dying.”
What Tony discovers, Fernandez said, is that some commitments must be kept. Tony finds himself lost in the illusions of his mind, constantly tormented by nightmares driven by women from his past. In a constant search for peace of mind, he comes to believe that death is his only way out of his predicament. But is that what he really wants?
In his quest for peace, he finds that a commitment is a commitment, and some cannot be broken. In fact, some commitments are more than anyone can bear.
A long time coming
Fernandez said the idea came to him in 1985 when he was a student at Rutgers University.
“It’s something I wanted to put on for some time but it took me a long time to find the right actor,” he said.
He said he auditioned more than 50 actors and just couldn’t find the right person.
Although he serves as a commissioner in Union City, he makes his living as an actor, and is producing this work as well as acting it.
“A friend of mine at the time told me to write it down so I can remember it later,” he said.
Although there is humor in this play, Fernandez said he is well aware of the human tragedy associated with suicide and that he grew up helping other people. He said he always wanted to somehow translate what he does as an artist into helping people.
“I grew up doing stuff to help other people, people with AIDS and who were homeless,” he said, aware of the complexity of the world where many people live. “Many people are one heartbeat away from being down and out.”
He said he was aware of people with mental illness and how close people often came to despair and suicide, and he wrote a lot of notes about what he saw.
Found the right actress by accident
Fernandez said when he finally decided to put the play on, he could not find the right person. Then by chance, he saw her in an Irish play on Long Island.
“I saw her do a monologue and it blew me away,” he said. He postponed putting on the play until she became available.
Kavanagh, originally from Ireland, has lived in New York for the last eight years. She trained at Arts Educational Drama School in London and she holds an MA in Contemporary Theatre Practice from the University of Essex and a BA in International Marketing, German & French from DCU, Dublin. She is a member of the New York based Fallen Angel Theatre Company and is co-founder of Kassiopia Theatre Company. She has been involved with a number of productions in and outside of New York City, and works as a voice-over artist, as well as a teacher of drama and dance.
Fernandez, an actor, singer, director, and producer, has starred and produced a number of award winning plays. He has appeared in productions including traveling Broadways shows such as “West Side Story”, “Guys and Dolls”, and “A Chorus Line.” He has worked with some top talent in the field such as Jerome Robbins, Jerry Zaks, Michael Peters, and others and top stars such as Marc Anthony, Shirley MacLaine, Gene Kelly and others.
Tickets to “Till Death” cost $18 through www.smarttix.com. Fill in “Till Death” just below the website’s banner then click on “FIND.”
For more information call (212) 868-4444 or visit: www.GraceTheatre.com
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.