Q44 Theatre continue their amazing maiden year with Theresa Rebeck's Spike Heels – a deliciously witty and sexy comedy exploring the difference between love and sex and all things in between.
Actor Anthony Scundi describes Spike Heels as taking the classic Pygmalion story and planting it into 1992 Boston. "As such, it raises immediate questions around love, identity and self-acceptance," Scundi says. "Personally I was able to connect straight away to a common circumstance; that is as people we can often deny parts of ourselves that we think are incompatible with how we want to, or think we should, live our lives. Ultimately we need to be true to ourselves and I think this is one of the many things that Spike Heels shows us."
Scundi plays Andrew who (in keeping with the Pygmalion comparison) is the 'Professor Higgins' (or in this instance a Professor of Political Philosophy) of the piece. "He is introduced to the audience as the good guy, idealistic and with the purest objective and intensions driving his desire to mentor Georgie," explains Scundi. "He is also presented as the antithesis to his best mate Edward, the sleazy lawyer who proudly likes to announce that he lives in the “real world” and that Andrew should join him. The thing about Andrew is that he denies, or thinks he is above, certain basic human desires which means the outcomes of his actions don’t always work out as he intends. His journey is really one of self-acceptance, of embracing all parts of himself, which I think is a universal challenge that all people face at one time or another through their lives. "
Spike Heels was first produced in New York in 1992 and starred Kevin Bacon. Sexual harassment is one of the themes running through the piece and this was particularly timely for the US climate at the time when a supreme court nominee was accused of sexual harassment. Scundi, along with the other creatives, have realized just how deep Rebeck's well is
"As we continued to dig deeper and deeper into the script through rehearsals, what we discovered was just how many different issues and themes are explored, such as; the power play between men and women; questions of identity and self-acceptance; feminism; sexual harassment; ambition; the lengths people go to in order to succeed and survive; the difference (or lack of difference) between the people from different classes. For me though, at the play’s core is love, or more specifically the search for love and the questions that search can raise, which I think most people can relate to. Questions such as, do we know what love actually is; when we find it is it what we expected; how does it meet our expectations; does it mean something different to men and women; what happens when we deny love? A fascinating question for me is; how does the search for love influence our behaviour? As humans we can do some pretty crazy things when love is involved or when we are chasing it, which I again think most people have experienced at some point in their lives. What one person thinks is completely rational behaviour can look (and actually be) ridiculous to someone else, which often means that significant unintended consequences follow. Spike Heels explores some of the unintended consequences of this behaviour, which often leads to hilarious situations and unexpected outcomes for the characters."
Scundi is a graduate of 16th Street Actors Studio having studied extensively with renowned actors and teachers including Gabriella Rose Carter (founder of Q44 Theatre), Penelope Chater, Alkinos Tsilimidos, Anthony Wong, Kirsty Reilly, Penny McDonald and Suzanne Haywood. Scundi has experience in the amateur music theatre world, having played several lead roles with PLOS Musical Productions but this is his first experience performing professionally in a full length play since he began acting training. "It’s very exciting to be able to put what I have learned into practice," he says. "Part of the training is to have faith and trust in all the work that has been put in during the months of rehearsal leading up to the first performance, which means (hopefully) any fear about ‘getting it right’ is minimised. We’ll see when we get to opening night. "
Scundi is also a producer on this project so will be kept incredibly busy juggling multiple and very different roles for which, fortunately, he has a great deal of experience.
"My “day job” has been working in the corporate sector as a financial and commercial analyst for various high profile organisations (which I currently still do). This experience (along with a couple of years as treasurer on the PLOS committee) has been invaluable for the Producing side of things. Also, as I’ve been in acting training while also working full time, fortunately I’ve become used to and have built stamina in jumping from one role to the other. That said, a vital component of being able to successfully perform both roles is to firstly acknowledge that as producers we can’t do everything ourselves, and then to put together a great team around us. I say us as I am co-producing (and co-starring) with my gorgeous girlfriend Nicole Melloy. We have a brilliant team starting with Gabriella Rose Carter as director, to Rebecca Fortuna our production and stage manager as well as co-set designer, and all the other production team members we are fortunate to have on board. What we have had to do is hand over responsibility to these brilliant people to allow them to do their various jobs, which then allows Nicole and I to focus on the acting side of things."
The meet between Scundi and Q44 founder Rose-Carter was made during one of her sensory classes nearly 4 years ago and has lead to a friendship and professional working relationship
"Having studied commerce and economics at Uni, it was a case of finally being truthful to myself that I wanted to seriously peruse acting as a career, and her class was recommended to me. From there the connection with the work between her and I just grew and she became a true mentor and friend and we have been working closely together ever since. When she told me she was starting Q44 and what her ethos and mission for the company was, there wasn’t even a question that I wanted to be part of it. One of the main parts of Q44’s ethos is to produce theatre (of the highest standards) that is accessible to everyone. I feel passionately that theatre can be accessible to all people irrespective of background, and that people from all walks of life can walk away from a theatrical experience and be moved, or made to laugh, or be inspired in some way."
This is Q44's third production of 2014 and if the last 2 are anything to go on, this one will also be a theatre goers delight. Scundi promises it will be a really fun night out. The script is hilarious, with enough sex, laughs and drama for something to be there for everyone, men and women alike. Not to mention plenty of classic ‘90s nostalgia!