Lynn Nottage’s comedy “Clyde’s” has seen success on Broadway and across stages in America, and that story is being continued through the efforts of Forward Theater Company which has brought the production to stage at The Overture Center’s Playhouse theater.
Directed by Jake Penner, the production has already sparked delight in audiences who may have felt lucky to attend the sold-out shows since its opening on Nov. 2. There is still time to see the production though, and one well-known Madisonian who audience members will have the pleasure to see on stage is Dana Pellebon, a longtime actress, director, and producer (she is also the executive director of Madison’s Rape Crisis Center and a Dane County Board supervisor) who plays the titular Clyde.
“Each of us worked really hard on understanding the show, and understanding the relationships between the characters and between the food, because there’s so many elements that go into one production,” Pellebon told Madison365, mentioning how everyone involved had a voice in the final product. “What we did was collaborate and listen to each other. We worked really hard, and it was a great process working with the director Jake Penner. It’s been a wonderful experience all around. Very collaborative and very creative working with each of the actors.”
The production also features Dimonte Henning, Sean Langenecker, Ronald Román-Meléndez, and Nadja Simmonds, and has a team of set and technical support behind it including Keith Pitts, Jason Fassl, Jason Orlenko, Joe Cerqua, Pam Miles, Kevin Zimmer, Sarah Nicolson, and Abbi Hess.
The play takes place in a truck stop with a staff of formerly incarcerated workers looking to find new paths while learning to get along as well as finding purpose and inspiration in their shared quest to create the perfect sandwich. Along the way, “Clyde’s” has plenty of laughs, but also tells quite a story about interesting characters developing relationships and about how all of us have something positive to contribute in life. As Nottage says in a YouTube interview describing Clyde’s “Everyone brings their own special ingredient.”
Pellebon spoke to the power of the story and how it will surely provide those in attendance with both entertainment and something to think about.
“This is the lovely thing about art,” said Pellebon. “Art can mirror your experience and make you feel not alone, and also build empathy for folks who have not had the same experiences. Art is a beautiful thing, and I love this story because I think that it succeeds in that purpose. It is a play where you can see yourself and also empathize with folks that may not have the same experiences as you”
Pellebon said that while audiences have loved the play, those who may be interested may want to act quickly as tickets have been selling out throughout showtimes leading up to the last date on Sunday, Nov. 19. Giving praise to Nottage for her work and Forward Theater Company for bringing “Clyde’s” to a stage in Madison, Pellebon simply hoped the genuine joy the cast and crew have had with the production so far would be the biggest draw to fill in any seats left available.
“Art within itself is worthy of seeing because art is a part of our day-to-day life,” Pellebon said in closing. “Let’s start with that supposition, and beyond that, it’s a great show. It’s written by an amazing Black writer who’s a double Pulitzer Prize-winning writer. It’s done by a great company, that is working hard to put a variety of different experiences on the stage. We’re having a hell of a lot of fun! People should come and see what I think is a great show, with good people having a bunch of fun on stage.”
To purchase tickets or learn more about “Clyde’s,” visit the Forward Theater Company website here.