New Play Unveils Darker Side of Hollywood

Actors Jackie Pickard, left, and Nicole Weber perform in a scene from "Paparazza," a new play debuting April 12 at the UT Arlington Mainstage Theatre. (Photo contributed)

Celebrity scandal and a darker image of Hollywood emerge in “Paparazza,” a new play debuting next weekend.

The production, presented by the Department of Theatre Arts, is the world-premiere of playwright-in-residence and Senior Lecturer Dr. Natalie Gaupp. The show will run April 12-15 in the Mainstage Theatre in the Fine Arts Building.

Directed by Associate Professor Dr. Dennis M. Maher, “Paparazza” centers on Ally Wilder, a young female photographer making her living by capturing images of celebrity scandals. After publishing compromising photos of a has-been actor, the paparazza finds herself stalked by the washed-up star whose dreams of a big comeback grow more and more twisted.

Gaupp said the original play was inspired by a trip to Southern California.

“These are concepts that have always been rolling around in my head,” she said last year. “But after spending time in L.A., everything came to the forefront. I knew I was ready to write about it. The experience gave me the push I needed to start tackling the projects I wanted to do.”

“Paparazza” features a cast of UT Arlington Theatre Arts majors, with senior Nicole Weber in the lead role; junior Jordan Chambers as Ally’s boyfriend Denny Thornton; freshman Emily Burgardt as the enigmatic and mysterious Max Stroheim; and senior Jackie Pickard in the role of Jaxon Finn, the self-obsessed, one-time Hollywood star.

Gaupp has a long list of theatre writing credits and has worked with several prestigious theatre workshops and schools around the nation. Last month, “Bridezilla,” which she co-wrote with Fort Worth playwright Steven McGaw, played at Texas Women’s University’s annual New Play Festival. Gaupp has also been honored for her work as a faculty member at UT Arlington, receiving the Smotherman Faculty Award in 2010.

Earlier this box office season, Maher directed “The Lion in Winter,” which featured several faculty members and alumni. Last year, he revived his one-man Mark Twain tribute in “The Trouble Beings at 8.”

Performances for “Paparazza” are April 12, 13 and 14 at 8 p.m., and April 15 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for general admission, and $7 for senior citizens, students with ID, and UT Arlington faculty and staff.

For tickets/reservations, group rates, or further information, please contact the UT Arlington Department of Theatre Arts Box Office at (817) 272-2669.

[Story by James Dunning, COLA Communications]

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