Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Vault Exclusive: True Blood’s Tara Buck in “Ten Cent Night”Posted by Shadaliza On July - 4 - 2009
Written by The Vault’s special reporter Gretchen

I have said this before and I will say it again (on roof tops if I have to), what makes True Blood as successful as the great HBO series before it (i.e Six Feet Under) is their potpourri of amazing talented actors. The truth can be said with their supporting cast members, and I have witnessed this first hand when I was invited to see Tara Buck’s play, “Ten Cent Night” at the Victory Theatre Center in Burbank, CA. We all know Tara to be the wild-eyed employee of Fangtasia, beholden to her master, Nordic Vampire and Sheriff Eric Northman (played by the uber talented Alexander Skarsgård).

Tara Buck as Roby
Tara plays the lead role as Roby Finly, daughter of famous Blues Musician, Hewitt Finley. Roby has estranged herself from her family…abandoning them while they languish after their father took his own life leaving a painful permanent reminder in the form of a bullet hole engraved on the wall of their Texas home. Roby leaves her fraternal twin sister, Dee (Caitlin Muelder) to keep the family together from destitution. You will discover as the play progresses, that the surviving children were not even given the rights to their father’s royalties on his hit song, “Ten Cent Night”. The younger siblings are also fraternal twins, played wonderfully by Alison Rood as Sadie Finley and Shane Zwiner as Holt Finley.
It’s a fairy tale, the modern kind, with incredible plot twists - mistaken identity, secret incest and an altruistic aging prostitute that may hold the answer to the heart-broken family’s woes; and like any fairy tale, there is a happy ending. The Chicago Tribune hails it as “…a juicy chunk of Texas gothic that plays like a classic country and western song”. I also give praise to Marisa Wegrzyn who is the creative scribe of “Ten Cent Night”.

It’s singularly one of the funnest, touching stories I have ever seen and I bow down to Tara Buck’s acting prowess. As she slides in and out of the stage, every inch of her is Roby Finley…she puts on her persona like a second skin and with masterful skill. It’s not hard to imagine she’s played an array of roles before True Blood. She’s remembered and given critical acclaim for her role as “Rhea Reynolds” in Nip/Tuck and has guest starred in TV hits such as: The Shield, Without a Trace, The Closer, Bones and Cold Case.

I met with Tara after the play and just as Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer impressed me with their humble disposition, the ever gracious Tara did the same by giving me a hug to show her thanks. She is appreciative of the support the fans have showed her and asks we continue to do so by watching True Blood. Tara, your wish is our command.

Gretchen and Tara Buck

We asked Tara Buck a few questions about “Ten Cent Night”.

The Vault: Tara, what makes this play special for you? What make this role interesting for you?

Tara: When I read the play I immediately connected with the role. Marisa Wegrzyn is a wonderfully talented writer and I think it’s quite an honor to be bringing one of her characters to life. She currently has two commissions with both Steppenwolf and Yale. Marisa creates complex characters that are layered with contradictions. My character Roby is tough and vulnerable. She’s street smart one minute and has an almost childlike naïveté the next. She’s an alcoholic, petty thief, her parents both commit suicide and she’s fighting to create a career as an artist while living in her famous musician father’s shadow. Greek tragedy right?Oh no, this is a comedy! It’s a dark, dark comedy of course. My role has been a challenge but that’s the main reason for doing live theatre.

The Vault: How did you get the lead role and did you initially auditioned to play Roby?

Tara: I initially auditioned for the role of Roby. I ended up having three different callbacks and after the first reading they asked me to prepare for both of the sister roles. Roby and Dee are twins and there was a lot of mixing and matching. At the final callback Caitlin Muelder was there to read for the role of Dee and when we read together it was an obvious match. In addition to actually looking alike, we both have a very similar sense of humor. She’s wickedly funny but I’ve been watching and shamelessly stealing!

The Vault: How do you feel about Roby’s family situation? Why do you think Roby left them?

Tara: The family dynamic is crazy in this play… but isn’t it in real life. We leave the nest, we try to prove we can stand on our own and that we have a voice of our own. We make mistakes more than we want to admit and then we realize we are more like our parents then we ever knew. Then we find some humility and carry on… That’s what it feels like to me any way. What Roby discovers in this play is she is deeply connected to her family even though she’s been trying to get as far away from them as possible.

I grew up in a small town in Idaho. I wanted to divorce myself from my family and create a new life. I wanted to be fancier, cooler, smarter and more worldly. Now I play characters that remind me of my Mother or my Father or that feeling in my gut I carried around as a child. Weird but it’s personal and it’s what I find interesting right now.

The Vault: If an opportunity presented itself would you reprise this role in the future? Would you play another character?

Tara: I would reprise the role in a second AND I would play Roby again… unless of course it was some how possible to play both roles (you know like Anne Heche did in Another World!) The hair pulling sister fight might be tough to pull off believably. Both parts are fantastic and each has their challenges but at this moment of my life I’m more fascinated by who Roby is. The courage it takes for this character to move from the beginning of her journey to where she ends up. Human courage is a beautiful thing and from my observation it seems to takes an enormous amount for all of us to get through the day let alone a lifetime. I’m drawn to characters who are underdogs. I see Roby as this iconic Janis Joplin-esc character in so many ways. She’s ridiculously self destructive but it’s because she has a fire burning in her gut. Roby is a true artist and a lost soul.

Tara Buck as Roby

“Ten Cent Night” Critic Choices

“Ten Cent Night” is worth every penny!” - Burbank Leader Critic’s Choice

“Ten Cent Night is very humorous, amusing and holds more plot loops than an east Texas twister skipping through the lone prairie on a springtime afternoon. Yee-hey!” - Rich Borowy LCP critic’s choice

A well-written play, with all of its passionate feuding familial frenzy, is a barrel of Southern-fried fun! Do see it!” - Toulcan Times Critic’s choice

“Ten Cent Night” is definitely our critics pick, don’t miss it!” – Amer Radio Netwk

“This versatile ensemble hits every emotional note pitch - perfectly” Backstage West.

Tara and Martin Papazian


June 19 thru August 2, 2009

Directed by
Maria Gobetti

(in order of appearance)
Tara Buck, Martin Papazian , Alison Rood, Caitlin Muelder, Shane Zwiner , Gareth Williams, Kathleen Bailey

For theatre information and ticket reservations call: (818)841-5421

For more information, please visit

Victory Theatre Center
3326 West Victory Blvd
Burbank, CA 91505

photo credit: Billy Hamilton Photographer

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bubank Leader Review - another good one!

Ensemble adds just enough reality

Performers in "Ten Cent Night" are, from left, Caitlin Muelder (Dee), Alison Rood (Sadie) and Shane Zwiner (Holt) at the Victory Theatre Center in Burbank. (Courtesy of the Victory Theatre Center)
By Mary Burkin
Published: Last Updated Tuesday, June 23, 2009 10:08 PM PDT
Once upon a time, there were no movie houses and no television sets. When people wanted to be inspired, touched and tickled, they had to go see a play.

Happily, you can still find all that and more with “Ten Cent Night” at the Victory Theatre Center in Burbank. It’s an offbeat fairy tale about a Texas family devastated by their country-western singer-father and drawn together again by his suicide

And it’s not out to change the world, but it’s like up-and-coming Chicago playwright Marisa Wegrzyn wants us to love the world the way it can be. What may seem like slightly boring exposition in the first act turns into fireworks by the second half. It’s as if the fabulous seven-member cast takes the author’s somewhat convoluted story lines and ties them to a rocket.

So what if they are playing drunks, or thieves, or prudes, or mutes, or whores, or incest victims, or crazy mixed-up teenagers? Two hours in their company is not enough.

Tara Buck is wildly wonderful as Roby Finley, hiding her courage in bad choices and a bottle of bourbon. Martin Papazian is two parts equally sweet and moving as mute bag-man Danny Doucet, connecting more with his eyes and his hands than a thousand words ever could.

Alison Rood as 16-year-old Sadie Finley, and Shane Zwiner as her fraternal twin brother, Holt, bring reality, focus and hilarity to the awful task of surviving into adulthood.

Caitlin Muelder as the ever-responsible Dee Finley makes bitterness and jealously seem as logical as taking another breath. Gareth Williams as Roscoe is so convincing he might as well have just stepped out of a Cadillac with Texas plates and stomped into the theater in cowboy boots.

And Kathy Bailey as Lila Mozelle, a businesswoman in the world’s oldest and most profitable profession, is a marvel of skill, wit and substance.

The lion’s share of credit for this fantastic ensemble work goes to director Maria Gobetti. She not only found seven such talented people, she was able to help them walk, talk and look as if they’d never said or done any of these things before.

Lauren Tyler’s costumes deftly enhance everything the actors are already showing us about their characters. Set designer Gary Randall does a great job of taking a small sliver of stage and turning it into a wide prairie.

It’s not clear what else could be done with some of the evening/indoor and intimate scenes. They need a little more light, and a little more sound, to make them understandable to audience members in the back row.

Yet more light and more sound might undermine the fragile reality that cast and crew have done such a fine job to create.

“Ten Cent Night” is a comedy, of course, with just enough of a threat behind it to make the happy ending one more pleasant surprise in an evening full of pleasant surprises. So, if an old-fashioned approach to new-fashioned humor might be just the thing you want from your hard-earned dollars, “Ten Cent Night” is worth every penny.

Monday, June 22, 2009

First review in!

Program : Gerri Garner's Entertainment File

Kaleidascope Radio Magazine Stations KCLA, KLAS, KPRO-AM, KMAX-AM
Air date: Sunday, June 21, 2009

"Ten Cent Night” CRITIC’S PICK

Marisa Wegrzyn's play, "Ten Cent Night," has just opened at the Victory Theatre Center in Burbank. It certainly has incredible plot points. There is mistaken identity, with some incestuous yearnings, and the aging hooker with all the keys to the Finley family’s problems.
The family consists of two sets of fraternal twins. They have languished in the shadow of their father, a blues musician, and song writer. These 4 have been left with broken dreams, and his legacy only haunts them. Hewitt Finley put a gun to his head and blew his brains out.
Set in 1973, "Ten Cent Night" is a down home piece of Texas gothic.

First we encounter Roby, the adult daughter (Tara Buck), a musician boozing her way through a lousy Monday night gig in a run down joint in New Orleans. She hates to be compared with her Dad. She meets a stranger, who can hear, but doesn't speak. He is Danny Doucet (Martin Papazian), who lets her live in his room above the gin joint she works in. She gets a letter from her younger sister telling her she needs money for an operation as she is very sick. Roby, always in trouble, breaks away from being incarcerated with a folding chair still attached to her arm. Danny who is a money runner has his huge stash dumped into Roby's guitar case, and she is off to Texas. She makes it home to learn of Daddy's demise. Worst is that they were not left the rights to his royalties on his hit song "Ten Cent Night".

Wegrzyn's story focuses on these four lost siblings. The older pair, Roby and Dee (outstanding Caitlin Muelder) are radical opposites, with Dee just as resentful, and feeling trapped as Roby is a wildcat drifter. The younger kids are 16, the sweet Alison Rood is the ill Sadie, and Shane Zwiner gives a touching portrait of Holt. There isn't a dry eye in the theater when Holt tells his sister, "if I could I would give you my heart."

Maria Gobetti's production is tight and perfectly cast. The story grabs you, and is well played out on Gary Randall's wonderful set. "Ten Cent Night" could be made into a film as its story line is so strong, and visual.

"Ten Cent Night" is definitely our critics pick, don't miss it!

"Ten Cent Night," playing at the Victory Theatre located at 3326 West Victory Blvd., in Burbank, plays Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 PM, and Sundays at 4. For tickets please call 818-841-5421 or on line at

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Preview weekend

Hey all - I just attended the Saturday night preview so I thought I would write a little about it so we would have the first post with a response of the show. I hadn't read the play in a few months and watching the show last night reminded me just how much I liked it!

The actors were fantastic. I've heard from Maria, Tom, and other people involved with the show about just how special the cast is...but I never really paid much attention because I didn't have any evidence to back it up. Well, last night I got to see it first hand, and I totally agree! One can definitely tell that the cast is a close-knit group.

There were a few things left to polish with the show, but overall, it could have opened this past Friday and delighted audiences.

It's always fun to watch a show that Maria has directed when I know Maria is in the house watching as well - I can always hear her whispering lines or cheering the actors on...or cursing under her

Bring on the opening!

- Jeff

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Coming soon to the VTC...

Coming soon to The Victory Theatre Center...