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Camden native does it all: actor, writer and director

Posted: June 6, 2013 3:55 p.m.
Updated: June 7, 2013 5:00 a.m.

By FRASER SPEAKS

C-I (Camden, S.C.) Localife editor

fspeaks@chronicle-independent.com

 

Born and raised in Camden, Sam LaFrage has since moved to New York City where he has managed to do what most only dream of achieving: success in the theatre business. Back in the South, for just a few weeks, LaFrage brings a hilarious, non-traditional version of the story of Rapunzel to the stage in Columbia.

The Commedia Rapunzel

is in the traditional style of Commedia Dell’Arte which is a largely improvisational style of street theatre dating back to 16th century Italy.

LaFrage not only wrote the script and original musical arrangements and directed The Commedial Rapunzel, but he will also have a starring role in the production as well, along with members of the acting group the Spaghetti and Meatball Players.

"My aim was to do a viable piece of theatre inspired by the traditions of Commedia dell’Arte, featuring some of its costumes and plot structure but not limited to just that. I wanted a comedy to entertain today’s audiences," LaFrage said.

This isn’t LaFrage’s first experience with the Columbia Children’s Theatre (CCT), though. Last summer he was involved with The Commedia Cinderella. After it being a huge hit, CCT asked him back to write and direct another success this summer. The play is being produced with the CCT and then will be taken back to New York and done Off Broadway and toured with New York actors.

"Working with CCT last summer on The Commedia Cinderella was an amazing experience. So, of course, I didn’t hesitate when they asked me to write another and come down from New York to direct those wonderfully talented local actors and join them onstage. It’s also beneficial to me, because I get a chance to workshop my show in front of big audiences before I take it to New York and do it with actors up there," LaFrage said.

Though The Commedia Cinderella is being produced by a children’s theatre, LaFrage said that it is in no way strictly for children. He said there are parts that adults will find funny as well.

"The Commedia Rapunzel is bigger, faster and zanier than Cinderella... and also goes deeper in terms of heart and message. This show is all about growing up and learning how to stand up for yourself when other people hold you back and put you down. But this is no Oprah after school special y’all. It’s funny. No really."

In the case of Commedia, the audience is "just as important as anything else in the production" LaFrage said.

"After studying Commedia in New York City, I learned that as an actor, you approach the style the same way you approach anything else in the theatre, with truth... that requires the actors to have a large amount of stamina and energy. Which leads me to the most invigorating aspect of Commedia: the energy exchange between the audience and the actors."

Not only is LaFrage a 2012 graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, he was also selected as a member of the 2013 New York Academy Company where he recently completed a year of Off Broadway work and a showcase that was hosted by two-time Tony Award winner Christine Ebersole. To experience LaFrage’s latest directorial and writing production, check out The Commedia Rapunzel which premiers June 14 at 7 p.m. and runs until June 23 at the CCT.

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