CLEARWATER – Ed Fletcher’s Early Bird Dinner Theatre will host the world premiere of playwright Michel Parker’s new farce “Never Kiss a Naughty Nanny,” running from Nov. 3 through Dec. 23.
Performances are Thursday through Sunday, with seating at 4 p.m. Matinees are Thursday and Saturday, with seating at 11 a.m.
Parker, born and raised in England, got his first taste of the theater at age 14 when he won the title role in a regional production of Terrence Rattigan’s play, “The Winslow Boy.” After five years of military service, he founded a temporary office help agency in Canada. Its success allowed him to retire in his mid-30s and relocate to the Caribbean.
“Never Kiss a Naughty Nanny” is the latest in a series of American farces penned by the playwright. Built on the foundation of the British farce, Parker developed the subgenre in 1986 while living in Fort Lauderdale and working with the Delray Beach Playhouse.
“I auditioned for a play, was cast, and in later weeks discussed with the artistic director the idea of doing some British farces which I had directed in the ’70s,” Parker said in a recent e-mail interview. Weeks later, however, the artistic director said he couldn’t use any of the plays because they were too British and didn’t translate well into American. “He then suggested … that I write an American farce. It occurred to me that no one had really done this before.”
As it turned out, it was the fall of 1986, and the Gary Hart scandal was making headlines. Parker wrote the play “The Sensuous Senator,” about a U.S. Senator running for president on a morality platform while his Washington D.C. townhouse was full of call girls.
“The Delray Beach Playhouse immediately produced the play,” Parker said. “It was a huge success.”
The playwright has attended rehearsals at Early Bird Dinner Theatre in preparation for the play’s debut.
“I am always involved in someway in the world premiere of all of my plays,” Parker said. “By doing this I can observe and make changes if needed, to stage directions, more than dialogue.”
In “Never Kiss a Naughty Nanny,” a real estate boss, eager to sell his “House of the Future,” persuades his secretary and a salesman to pose as a married couple renting the house by offering them a $5,000 bonus if the house is sold to the prospective buyers. When the buyers show up for the weekend, nothing in the house seems to work right. A maintenance man is summoned – and forced to dress up as a nanny to perpetuate the ruse.
“I find technology to be innovative and many times helpful, but when it doesn’t work, life can become very frustrating and, at times, come to a complete halt,” Parker said. The playwright emphasized that “Never Kiss a Naught Nanny” isn’t a satirical look at modern conveniences, though. “In this play, technology that doesn't work is just plain fun. Many people want to make farce more complex than it really is,” Parker said. “Let's face it, my plays have no redeeming literary value, they are written to make people laugh and enjoy life for two hours.”
And Parker must be doing something right, considering his record. Early Bird has produced eight of Parker’s nine plays to date. The playwright credits the company for successfully narrowing in on a niche that is unique to the area.
“The idea of having dinner and a show and being able to be home by 8:30 p.m. is a brilliant concept,” he said. “Most dinner theaters – and I do have associations with dozens of them – charge not less than $50, and many much more. Ed Fletcher has somehow managed to keep his costs down to approximately $30.”
Cost is $29.90 plus tax and includes musical entertainment, dinner and the show.