Minneapolis, Minnesota

Is one moment of exhilaration worth the risk of a lifetime? That’s the question posed by “Exit Strategy,” a two-act drama that weighs the risks of grabbing for the brass ring, discovering new dreams, and learning it is never too late to take a chance.

Romantics of both active and passive dispositions will appreciate this story by Twin Cities playwrights Bill Semans and Roy M. Close. Their characters, the unrelated elders Mae and James, live on fixed incomes with much time on their hands. They are 30-days-and-waiting from being evicted from the shabby rooming house they call home. Enter Alex, a man on a mission with an intriguing proposition, who jolts awake Mae and James’ very existence.

The play receives its west coast premiere at the Falcon Theatre in Los Angeles, Oct. 23-Nov. 15, under the direction of Casey Stangl. Written originally for the actors Charles Nolte, Shirley Venard, and Semans, “Exit Strategy” was first presented in Minneapolis last year at the Mixed Blood Theatre. The current, all-star cast features Debra Mooney (‘Mae’), John C. Moskoff (‘Alex’), and James B. Sikking (‘James’).

“The great thing about ‘Exit Strategy,'” wrote Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, “is that it strikes such an entertaining balance between tragedy and comedy, ultimately providing a sense of reassurance that life isn’t over until it’s over, and until the lights go out, interesting things can still happen.”

Semans and Close will attend the final preview and opening night performances in Los Angeles, Oct. 22-23. Family members joining them for the festivities include sons Andrew and Macrae Semans of New York, spouse Linda Close of Minneapolis, and daughter Maggie Close of Denver.

Semans started acting in his native Minneapolis before moving to New York in the 1960s. He returned home to found the Cricket Theatre in 1968, where he produced nearly 100 new American plays over 12 years, including works by Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, and David Mamet. He has written and directed eight documentary films plus one feature film, “Herman, USA.” which was “appallingly unsuccessful.” He is presently working on a Civil War documentary series for HBO.

Close, a Twin Cities native and graduate of the University of Minnesota, covered theater, classical music, and dance for The Minneapolis Star from 1971 to 1981, and then served as a critic and editor for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press until 1992. The Brave New Workshop staged “Lies, Lies, Lies,” his 1996 musical about the newspaper business. His portfolio of short plays includes “A Postcard from the Corn Palace,” “Zambezi Blue,” and “Your Call Is Very Important to Us.” He is currently Director of Resource Development at Artspace Projects.

A veteran of theater, opera, and film, Stangl has worked with many producing entities, including the Guthrie Theater, Denver Center Theatre Company, Minnesota Opera, Portland Opera, and, most recently, the El Portal Theater in Los Angeles. She was recognized as 2004 Artist of the Year for her work at Eye of the Storm Theater, the company she founded in Minneapolis. Her short film “C U @ ED’S” has screened at 18 film festivals, won an Audience Award at DC Shorts, and was a finalist in the USA Film Festival National Short Film Competition.

Mooney (‘Mae’) has enjoyed an extensive career, with Broadway performances that include “The Price,” “The Odd Couple” “Talley’s Folley,” “Death of a Salesman,” “Getting and Spending,” and “Chapter Two.” She has appeared all over television screens in “Everwood,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Private Practice,” “The Closer,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “The Practice,” “Murphy Brown,” “Rosanne,” and “ER.” Film buffs have seen her in “Domestic Disturbance,” “Anastasia,” “Napoleon,” “Dead Poets Society,” and “Chapter Two.”

If you missed Moskoff (‘Alex’) in more than 300 television commercials, you may have seen him on “Friends,” “Golden Girls,” “Mad About You,” “Desperate Housewives,” “ER,” “Brothers & Sisters,” and “Everybody Hates Chris.” (Among others!) He has performed in films, and on the boards on Broadway and throughout the U.S., including the role of Oscar for several productions of “The Odd Couple.”

Sikking (‘James’) was a series regular on “Hill Street Blues,” for which he was nominated for an Emmy for his role as Lt. Howard Hunter. He also was a regular on “Doogie Howser, M.D.” and “Brooklyn South.” His visage graced the big screen in “American Primitive,” “Fever Pitch,” “The Pelican Brief,” and “Ordinary People.” He has appeared in “The Big Knife” on the London stage, toured in “Plaza Suite,” and performed in “The Price” in Washington, D.C. and “Nobody Loves an Albatross” in Los Angeles.

“Exit Strategy” runs through Nov. 15 at the Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank, CA. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 4pm. Tickets $27.50-$40. Call 818.955.8101.

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