Tasha Biltmore is known for writing and directing plays that focus on abuse, domestic violence and other issues often overlooked by traditional playwrights and directors. Her current undertaking is “Roxy”, a play about two women who run a strip club. According to Biltmore, the venue provides a good backdrop for topics she hasn’t covered, such as criminal activity, shady business deals and extortion.
Russian immigrant Natalia Borowsky plays Roxy, the sexy dancer who strips her way through law school.
“I asked several people [before Borowsky],” explained Biltmore, “but they were uncomfortable dancing on stage. ”
Raven Melinda plays Rochelle, a stripper from Atlanta who contradicts Roxy’s sexy and sophisticated dances with raunchy and erotic dance moves commonly found in Atlanta strip clubs.
Playing a stripper from Atlanta was a stretch for Melinda, who normally takes a more conservative approach to role selection.
“This was a totally different thing than what I’d ever do,” said Melinda, “but I’m glad to have embraced it. The power of researching, conversing with exotic dancers, and rehearsing with choreographer Schynthia Johnson helped me let go of ‘Raven Melinda’ and ease into ‘Rochelle’”
Biltmore put together a well-rounded cast, including veteran actor Vincent Ward, best known for a three season stint as ‘Oscar’ in ‘Walking Dead’ on AMC. Ward plays Lorenzo Charles, a smooth talking baller. Danyol Jaye plays Brewster, a slick loan-shark.
The choreography is adult themed though the plot does not revolve around sexual dance moves. It’s actually moved forward by what goes on inside of the scenes. Through a series of comical interactions, Biltmore delivers on her promise to entertain the crowd as her actors bicker, insult, love and fight each other. Each character has a personal goal, and must put aside their selfish needs in order to save the club.
Biltmore, along with her writing team of Sean McIntosh and Danyol Jaye, does a good job intertwining the storyline through the various characters in the play and moving the attention from character to character without become cliché or predictable.
One good example of this writing process is the matriarch and owner of the club, Juanita played by Karen Roberson. Although having a female to lead a strip club has been done before, the performance of Robinson going from dialogue to monologue poem and back into full song increases the entertainment value of the play. It gives the play all the aspects of a musical, with inspiring vocals, a drama, featuring the climactic clash between Roxy and Rochelle, and a budding love story between Roxy and one of her customers.
“In October we bring ‘Roxy’ back,” added Biltmore. “It’s coming back once a month, and we are talking about issues that happen like sex trafficking, drugs and drug abuse that goes on. So there’re deep issues that are going to be featured in the stage plays of ‘Roxy.’ What I’m doing that’s different with this stage play is that I’m introducing new writers to come on and take on different scenes and characters and bring them in. Like at any strip club, the strippers change, there’s always new guys coming in to spend money, so this will give allot of opportunities for other actors and writers that don’t get seen, to be able to be seen in a production like this. We are going to do two shows, once a month, 8 o’clock sharp.”
The ‘Roxy’ plays will take place at the Acme Theater located at 5124 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood California 91601.
For more information on ‘Roxy,’ go to https://www.facebook.com/pages/Unofficial-ROXY.