INDIANAPOLIS — Most of us know Shel Silverstein as a poet and the author of the children’s book, “The Giving Tree.”
What isn’t so widely known is that he was also a playwright, a musician and an illustrator who got his start as a cartoonist at Playboy magazine.
You read that right. Playboy.
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Director Scott Robinson explores this darker side of the man who gave us Lafcadio the Lion in “An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein” at Theatre on the Square.
“I have to be really passionate about a show to do it,” said Robinson, so when TOTS director of development Lori Raffel contacted him about possibly directing the show, he was intrigued.
“She saw that I had posted things from Shel Silverstein on my Facebook page, and she thought I’d be interested,” he said. “I was.”
The cast is made up of just six actors who play approximately 30 roles.
More than 100 actors auditioned for the TOTS season back in August, most of whom indicating they wanted to be cast in the show.
Robinson had his work cut out for him in casting.
“I think the concept of the show was what appealed to them,” he said.
His cast of three men and three women includes Sasha Bannister, Kelsee Hankins, Stacia Hulen, Ryan Powell, Patrick Slattery and Robert Webster.
Having never done a production of individual sketches, cast member Webster said the show has a “Saturday Night Live” feel to it.
“It’s definitely a comedy,” he said, “so you have to check your inhibitions at the door and be willing to give 100 percent.”
Webster said he struggled with one of his sketches because he couldn’t keep from laughing.
“You would think the joke would get old,” he said. “But it was just so funny.”
Added Robinson: “It’s a wonderfully inappropriate evening,” from the material on stage to the songs for the scene changes.
“This is not ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends,’” Robinson said. “There is no nudity, but … it’s definitely R-rated. It’s not for the easily offended.”
The script itself is actually a collection of ten sketches, dark poems and theater shorts written by Silverstein.
With such disclaimers, one might think that audiences would be sparse, but “An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein” already has sold out its first weekend. Robinson advises playgoers to get their tickets early and arrive at the theater early for nearby parking and good seats. For tickets and showtimes, visit tots.org. The show runs through April 4.