Lost Laughs: The Slapstick Tragedy of Fatty Arbuckle premieres AT MRT

LOWELL, MA: Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) is proud to present the world premiere of Lost Laughs: The Slapstick Tragedy of Fatty Arbuckle, written by Andy Bayiates and Aaron Muñoz, directed by Nathan Keepers, with performances February 14 – March 11, 2018, at the Nancy L. Donahue Theatre located at 50 East Merrimack Street in historic downtown Lowell. In addition, MRT is hosting a panel discussion on the historical context of Lost Laughs titled “Women’s Rights, Prohibition, and the Fall of Fatty,” on Thursday, March 1, immediately after the 7:30 pm show (details below).

During silent film’s golden age, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle’s comedic genius outshone even Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton as Hollywood’s first million-dollar man. Then after one tragic weekend, he became America’s biggest villain. What really happened to him and Virginia Rappe? How did a comedy legend fall so far from favor? In the tradition of great vaudeville pairings, Aaron Muñoz is Arbuckle and Kristen Mengelkoch plays Keaton, Rappe, and a host of other characters. Big laughs and shocking truths—the line between comedy and tragedy is thinner than you ever imagined.

MRT Artistic Director Sean Daniels added, “Aaron Muñoz’s hilarious and heartfelt performance brings to life someone whose work has essentially been forgotten today. This was also the first court case to captivate the nation and make us look at our relationship to celebrity. A true history mystery. Andy Bayiates is always one of our favorite authors to bring back to MRT. In addition to being a true local success story (born at Lowell General!) he is always inventive and clear in bringing history to the stage. And I can’t wait for Lowell to meet Nathan Keepers and Kristen Mengelkoch—truly two of the funniest people I know. Plus, I think the world is ready to see a female Buster Keaton; I know Lowell is.”

“I've been wanting to do something about Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle for over a decade,” said Muñoz, who stars in and co-wrote the play. “I’m drawn to the question, ‘What if the one thing you are supposed to do on this earth gets taken away from you?’ I’m also interested in exploring the blessing and burden of being the funny fat guy in a celebrity-driven culture that loves to ferociously build people up and tear them down.”

“I love playing so many, many…many parts in Lost Laughs,” said Mengelkoch. “I’m everyone from Roscoe’s intimate friends and wives to his crazed fans and critics. You’ll see me as Buster Keaton, and you’ll see me as someone most people don’t know about. I certainly didn’t. I play a young woman, Virginia Rappe, whose story can’t help but bring to mind the current tragic revelations we’re reading about almost daily in Hollywood and the world. I so appreciate that this play is a celebration of the silent film era and comedic genius of Roscoe Arbuckle, while at the same time a real look at the corruptibility and fragility of celebrity.”

The approximately 90-minute show will be performed without an intermission. Performances are February 14 – March 11, 2018. Press performances are on Saturday, February 17 at 8:00 PM (Opening Night) and on Sunday, February 18 at 2:00 PM. All performances will be held at the Nancy L. Donahue Theatre located at 50 East Merrimack Street in historic downtown Lowell. Tickets range from $26 - $73 and are on sale now at www.mrt.org or by calling 978-654-4678. A senior discount is offered for 10% off adult ticket prices. Student tickets are $15. Group discounts are available for groups of six or more by calling 978-654-7561.  More information is at www.mrt.org/lostlaughs.