... a riotously funny and surprisingly moving and thought-
provoking work. -- Arlene McKanic, The Times Ledger
When Hell Freezes Over
by Alan David Perkins
Copyright © 1990
Bad News: Hell has frozen over. Jackson Pratt, a good natured but
psychologically weak environmental lawyer, lives a relaxed live with his
cousin Annie looking after him. Jackson is soon visited by Otto, a Dark
Angel from Hell, one of many dispatched to see that everyone who made a
promise on the condition of Hell freezing over honor it. Jackson's problems
are twofold. First, he's not a very good lawyer and is now forced to present
a winning summation upon the condition of Hell freezing. Also, women from
Jackson's past are ALL contractually bound to marry him upon THEIR promising
to do so under the same condition.
Click here for Press/Reviews.
Click here for Production History.
JACKSON PRATT - Male - early 30's. Jackson is an Environmental Lawyer and is happy knowing he'll probably never see the inside of a court room. Happy just going with the flow, Jackson doesn't have a lot of guts.
OTTO - Male - late 30's to late 40's. Otto is a Dark Angel from Hell. He's larger than life and likes it that way – big, broad and loud. He does, however, have a good heart.
ANNIE - Female - early 30's to early 40's. Annie is Jackson's cousin, though she has become his surrogate mother, making her a bit matronly. She's very smart and very confident to the point where she rambles on with her own self-righteousness, which winds up just being annoying.
RALPH SHAW - Male - early 30's. Ralph, Jackson's best friend, is a bit of a maniac. He throws all caution to the wind and seldom considers the consequences for his actions. As a result he's a bit of a know-it-all who, sadly, doesn't know much at all.
BERNIE - Male - late 30's to late 40's. Bernie is a Dark Angel from Hell. He was a bad, bad boy when he was alive. Now he's a very loyal drone, but uses his experiences to be as menacing as possible.
LOU - Male - early to mid 40's. Lou is the Devil. Literally. Imagine if you mixed a stock broker with a lawyer and stirred in a dash of wolverine -- with rabies. Lou is slick as oil and mean as a snake.
WOMEN - Five or more women of varied types and ages to represent the 25 women contractually bound to marry Jackson. Only one has lines, the rest have some on-stage actions. These are bit parts that appear throughout.
110 - 125 minutes.
The set is the living room of Jackson Pratt. It should be complete with
sofa, chair and bookshelves. Front door should be visible. Archways should
go to kitchen and bedroom.
The play is in two acts. Act 2 takes place the morning after the first
This play is a sentimental favorite for a lot of people. It almost went
up once through Developmental Stages, where it went through an extremely
rigorous development only to be dropped. This is one of the earliest plays
where I found my "voice." The concept is merely a backdrop, the
play is not about Hell freezing over, but about people who have to deal with
it. In this play I also take the character part of Otto and turn him into a
romantic lead. I have a tendency to do this. Though the play is not about
Otto per se, he is featured in the spotlight as the action revolves around
Jackson. I look back at this play as being kind of talky -- lots of
wordplay. It's definitely an early work, but still lots of fun.
CONTACTING THE PLAYWRIGHT:
The entire script of
When Hell Freezes Over is available upon request
from the playwright. No
production of this play can take place without permission from the
from the Queens Courier
Beari Producers Take Risks, Reap Rewards
by Cliff Kasden
Debbie and Rene Bendana are the co-founders of and co-producers of their Middle Village theatre company, Beari Productions. This winter's project, "When Hell Freezes Over," is a brand new comedy by local playwright Alan David Perkins.
The curtain rises for the world premiere on Saturday, February 4th for six
performances over two weekends. They're easy to find at 63-70 Dry
Harbor Road (Trinity Lutheran Church).
But, why take the risk with a
lesser-known playwright in stead of offering a comedy by Neil Simon or a
popular musical such as "West Side Story?" Beari's "A Chorus Line"
last season was outstanding. Rene Bendana explains. "Sure, there
are times when we really drag ourselves to rehearsal. People don't
know the heartaches. The major risks are all on Debbie and me.
But when our foot hits the stage and we see the spotlights there's a
spontaneity and energy that makes it all worth it."
Debbie shares her husband's commitment to showcase new talents on
community stages. Although the risks in energy and resources are
daunting, a "world premiere" for a capable playwright/director is worth it.
Alan David Perkins has already staged two successful shows in Queens,
"Nobody Knows I'm a Dog" and "Standard Deviation." Both were well
received. "Queens audiences are smart and eager," he says. "I'm
a firm believer in good productions, whether they author is well known or
not." Beari's producers agree. They expect his theatrical star
to continue rising.
Perkins's newest comedy explores the results of Hell actually freezing
over. Do Dark Angels roam the earth forcing good and bad alike to
honor their most ridiculous promises? What about a particular Dark
Angel's great grandson? Can he deliver the pitch of his life in a
world that has radically changed?
Casting can become a risky endeavor. Beari's auditions, though, are
generally open. "We try not to use the same people over and over,"
says Bendana. Their current cast includes some Queens theatre veterans
like Jimmy O'Neill with some newcomers including Glenn Meyers in the leading
Whether the creative team's philosophy, the very palpable financial,
physical and emotional risks are outweighed by that intangible reward that
has always been experienced onstage, backstage and in the audience.
from the Times Ledger
"When Hell Freezes Over" a moving theatrical work
by Arlene McKanic
"When Hell Freezes Over" is a departure for Beari Productions as it's not a revival or a revue, but an original comedy by Alan David Perkins.
The first look at the set is a little deceptive - it's the trashy bachelor pad of Jackson Pratt, an environmental lawyer whose own environment is a dump. Crumpled paper, dirty clothes, old pizza boxes, Snapple bottles and cartons from Chinese takeout are everywhere. The place screams "slob," and indeed, Jackson (Glenn R. Meyers), who makes an appearance snarfing down popcorn to an old rock 'n' roll song, is indeed a slob, but only physically.
But what's truly odd about the setting is the frost on the windowpanes of Jackson's front door. It's July, in a place that feels like New York and there's snow on the ground and it's 40 degrees below zero. Soon after we take this in the doorbell rings and in walks - to thunder and a flash of lightning - a black clad figure named Otto.
What's happened, Otto explains to a startled Jackson, is that hell has frozen over and the unusual weather is a manifestation of it. And everyone who promised to do something "when hell freezes over" is now going to have carry through, whether that promise was to get married, visit the doctor, join the Peace Corps or eat sushi. In Jackson's case his lightly made promise was to his old law professor, to successfully complete a summation. On top of this, about 25 women promised to marry Jackson "when hell freezes over" and now they are gathered, in the brutal cold, outside his door, with baked goods and naked photos of themselves.
To help these hapless folk keep up their end of their bargains, hell has sent emissaries, or dark angels. Otto (the wonderful Greg Johnson) is one of these beings, who unlike a real demon used to have an earthly life, but was such a jerk that he now spends eternity serving the cosmic order by way of The Big Bad. Another dark angel (or DA) is Bernie, played hilariously by Rene Bendana in Hell's Angel gear (natch); Bernie's client is Jackson's best friend, Ralph Shaw, played with a lovely, cringing panache by Jimmy O'Neill. Also in the mix is the loving, maternal, motor-mouthed Annie (Amie Backner), who pops in now and then to make sure Jackson's place doesn't become uninhabitable and that he eats real food now and then. She both is and is not his cousin - I won't give away exactly what she is at the risk of spoiling it.
Indeed, the plot does get a bit convoluted, but the action, as the mortals figure out how to either keep their vows or get out of them, is wonderfully nutty. Act Two grows unexpectedly deep after the farce of Act One, bringing up such themes as redemption, self-sacrifice, the power of love and other good spiritual stuff without losing the play's humor. Act Two also brings up the devil himself, played with brilliant menace by Cameron Hughes as a Capo di Capi with earring, bald head and two tiny little horns tattooed into his forehead.
Perkins, who also directs, and his great cast never let the often manic energy level flag and they're helped greatly by Ed Voyer's surprisingly subtle sound design and the unsubtle set construction by O'Neill and Amanda Doria. Doria had the unhappy task of cleaning up the mess in Jackson's living room in between acts; you had to feel sorry for her.
"When Hell Freezes Over" is a riotously funny and surprisingly moving and thought-provoking work.
Beari Productions - February 2006
in Middle Village, Queens, will frequently feature original works.
This production, directed by the playwright, was produced by Beari co-owner, Debbie
This production marked the
World Premiere of
When Hell Freezes Over, after literally sitting on the shelf for 15 years.
The set was designed by Jimmy O'Neill. Stage Manager was Amanda Doria
with help from Theresa Doocey. The play was directed by the author.
Beari Productions' cast of
"When Hell Freezes Over."
L-R: Amie Backner, Greg Johnson, Glenn R. Meyers, Cameron Hughes,
Rene Bendana & Jimmy O'Neill.
JACKSON PRATT...Glenn R. Meyers
With Jodi Berger, Miriam P. Denu,
Theresa Doocey, Carol Henning and
Dolores H. Voyer as "Jackson's Women."
Click here for photos and bios.