Cole Schneider of Handsome Little Devils on scaling down Squirm...and magic!
It's been a busy sixteen months for Handsome Little Devils. In October 2011, the vaudevillian comedy troupe took its Squirm Burpee Circus act -- a blend of acrobatics, juggling and juggling -- to Broadway, enjoying a successful run at the New Victory Theatre and getting positive reviews in such little local pubs as the New York Times. The crew capitalized on the exposure, touring the production to other venues and picking up some tips from Broadway pros along the way.
On February 19, the troupe known for gargantuan juggling machines and oversized cannons will scale down its antics for an appearance at Comedy Works South. In lieu of the elaborate effects and involved plot twists of the circus show, the newest production, titled Conjure, will feature magic feats in a more intimate setting, drawing on the equipment and expertise of Joey Wartnerchaney for a family-friendly show.
Westword caught up with the Handsome Little Devils' Cole Schneider to get details on the new production, as well as an update on the crew's frenetic schedule over the past year.Westword (A.H. Goldstein): How have the Handsome Little Devils spent the past year or so?
Cole Schneider: New York was a big success for us. We had a really great run out there and got really good reviews from several publications. Of course, the big kahuna was the New York Times coming out and giving us a very positive review. We have been booking the heck out of the show since then. We actually went back to New York for a couple of shows last year. We've been touring nationally a lot.
Has the basic structure of the show remained the same?
We've been making some changes. In January, we attended a national conference and presented at Hernando Beach. Someone who is in the community there actually stepped up and was really excited about the project. She got together with her theater and her board...We started working with a new director from New York, (who worked) on Bonnie & Clyde on Broadway.
We've been doing a rewrite and a final polish on the (Squirm Burpee) show. Also this past year, I found out that I have a hip injury. It's kind of a thing that isn't going to go away. I actually have a replacement in the show who is one of my best friends. We have a new Lolo in the show -- we also are getting a second cast altogether. In the next year or so, we think we might have two versions of Squirm Burpee to tour. We've been going back and forth with two different Barons -- the evil villain character. We have Jason (Knauf), who's been our Baron for a long time. We just hired Jimmy Slolina, who is a Cirque du Soleil clown. He's another Baron who we have out on the road.
Right after we open the magic show, Mike (Huling) and I are heading to Chicago to host auditions for the juggling roles.
So are you bringing the refitted show to Comedy Works?
No. [laughs] The show at Comedy Works is a completely new venture. It's a magic show. We've never done that before.
How did that come about? Where did you find time to put together a magic show between touring and trying to find a second Squirm Burpee cast?
I have no idea. We started working with a new director last spring. Most of the hard work for Squirm Burpee is now done and it's really evolving on its own. That's part of it. Now we're at the point where we're just doing the show, rehearsing the brush-ups, going out on the road.
The Comedy Works show came about because a colleague of mine from High Noon Entertainment was helping them figure out their family programming. They're trying to do a family show about once a month, trying to get a new audience into the club and trying to do a new community outreach. He had heard about Squirm Burpee and recommended that for Comedy Works, but our show is now way too big to be done on a comedy-club stage.
Squirm Burpee wouldn't work, but we had been tossing around this idea of a magic show for a while. We told them that we didn't have the show, but if they were interested, we could make a deadline.