Stage Company sets an old-fashioned bromance to music

Chip Ellis
Bryan Archer (left) and Mark Felton star in "The Story of My Life," a two-man play about friendship. Charleston Stage Company opens the show Thursday at the Capitol Center Theater for a two-weekend run.
WANT TO GO?"The Story of My Life"Presented by Charleston Stage CompanyWHERE: Capitol Center Theater, 123 Summers St.WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Dec. 15-17TICKETS: Adults $15, students and seniors $10INFO: 304-343-5272 or CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A two-man play like "The Story of My Life," Charleston Stage Company's newest production, would be daunting for nearly any community actor. Ninety minutes is a lot of time to spend on stage with only one other person to help carry the dialogue."It's an endurance test for sure," director Timothy Mace said. "To make this play work, you need two guys with the right chemistry. You can't fake that on stage."They also have to be able to sing -- a lot."The Story of My Life," which opens Thursday at the Capitol Center Theater, isn't just a two-man play about a lifelong friendship between two men; it's a musical.
"So you need two guys who can handle 90 minutes of singing," Mace said. "That's 90 minutes with no chorus, no support roles really. This play is song after song after song. The story is mostly told through the songs, through memories. The little bit of dialogue is meant to set those memories up."Mace said "The Story of My Life" ran on Broadway in 2009. It got some nice press, but didn't become a huge hit. The play follows Thomas Weaver, a famous writer, who has returned home to delivery a eulogy for his friend Alvin Kelby.Kelby and Weaver were friends since grade school, but then drifted apart in later years. As Weaver composes the tribute to his friend, he's reminded of the things they shared and how each of them affected the course of the other's life.Mace said, "A story like this is what might be called a 'bromance.' That seems like a nice description for what this play is about."
He also thinks the play is kind of unusual for the time."Lifelong friendship between two men, it's not something that's written about all the time."Still, Mace said he fell in love with the story after he read the script. "It's just very authentic."And he thinks his actors, Mark Felton and Bryan Archer, have done a good job of bringing this story to life, which hasn't been easy. The show opens Dec. 8, exactly one month after they started rehearsals, which was a lot of ground to cover in a short amount of time."The hardest part for us has been making the time work," he said. "Especially at this time of the year.""We also had to be careful with their voices," he added. "We needed to rehearse, of course, but there were times when we had to ask them to hold back a bit. It is a lot of singing."
Reach Bill Lynch at or 304-348-5195.
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