From Page to Stage
Local playwright brings first full-run play to Howe Avenue Theater
By Jessica Laskey
Last month brought a lot of firsts for Arden Park resident Irwin Rosenblum. His first full-length play, “Family Cabins,” enjoyed its world premiere. The show also marked Rosenblum’s first time producing, as well as the first full-run production at Howe Avenue Theater on Cottage Way.
“I’m so excited to bring this production here,” said Rosenblum. “It’s really a neighborhood theater. People don’t expect to see a show at the park across the street from The Home Depot.”
The theater recently underwent a $100,000 renovation so that it could accommodate live theatrical productions as well as the cultural festivals, weddings and bingo nights it was already hosting. Upgrades were made to the lighting, sound, acoustics and flooring. Rosenblum will be one of the first to
benefit from the new facility. Rosenblum, who grew up in Carmichael, calls himself a “software manager by trade, playwright by passion.” On New Year’s Eve 2016, he made a resolution: write a play by the end of the year. He followed through, writing not only several short plays but also the first draft of “Family Cabins,” a family drama.
He held readings of the play with friends and at Playwrights Collaborative, a Sacramento group that meets once a month to workshop and discuss new plays in progress. “It got a lot of positive response, which was very encouraging,” he said.
“Family Cabins,” which contains strong language and mature content, is about a family trying to help a loved one cope with mental illness. Rosenblum plans to donate all profits from the production to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness).
“I have a personal connection to mental illness, and I tend to write things that are familiar,” he explains. “I saw the subject matter as something that could be very dramatic onstage, but also an area I haven’t seen dealt with in the way I’m dealing with it. I decided to take it on.”
Rosenblum decided to produce the play himself—without any prior experience.
“I figured that the only way I’d get it produced is if I did it—no one’s knocking on my door,” Rosenblum says with a self-effacing laugh. “I’ve seen other people produce their own plays, so I said to myself, ‘That’s the way you’ve got to do it if you want to get it done.’”
Like any smart producer, Rosenblum surrounded himself with other talented people. He asked veteran playwright, director and producer Leo McElroy to direct the production, secured his female lead long before auditions, asked his friend Erik Finnerty (who runs FatCat Bakery) to donate baked goods for concessions to maximize profits for NAMI, and enlisted childhood friends to design poster art and compose original music for the show.
“It’s a nice way to start,” Rosenblum says. “Everyone is very enthusiastic, which just makes me even more excited.”
“Family Cabins” runs the first two weekends in March at Howe Avenue Theater, located at 2201 Cottage Way. For more information, visit familycabinsplay.com