– An interview with Faith Hayden and Kendra Keller, co-founders of Leopard Print Productions
Tell us about the moment where you said to yourself: “I just have to do this!”
Hayden: In my mid-20s I literally moved 11 times in a three-year period because I was constantly moving in and breaking up with a different boyfriend. I would throw myself into these intense relationships, which would inevitably implode in the most ridiculous ways possible. My friends have told me for years I need to write a memoir about my infamous dalliances, but I did something better. I teamed up with two of my best girlfriends, Colleen Brown and Kendra Keller, and we wrote a frisky, no-holds-bar comedy cabaret called 13 Men.
The show is semi-autobiographical and is all about surviving the DC dating scene. We hold nothing back; it’s refreshingly honest. Most tales are funny, but there are some real heartbreakers in there, too.
The content is extremely relatable—we’ve all been there. Who hasn’t mistaken lust for love? Everyone’s been dumped. Everyone has had an amusingly terrible date.
Keller: It was a girls’ night with these lovely ladies that made me realize this show needed to happen. As a woman in my late 20s, I’ve had way more than my fair share of dating experiences. Some were painful, but lot more were straight-up bizarre. I too had friends suggest I compile all of my crazy experiences for their enjoyment. As the three of us discussed the highs and lows of our dating lives that night, we realized that we have a thoroughly entertaining show.
Why this show now?
Hayden: I’m a writer by trade and there are some stories you just have to exorcise. That was the motivation for 13 Men. I’m older and happily married now, so when you look back on the foolish decisions you made when trying to find yourself, you suddenly have a lot of material to work with that every woman can relate to.
Q: What are some of 13 Men‘s most interesting “draws?”
Hayden: The ridiculously talented Jack O’Reilly plays all 13 of our ex-boyfriends without the help of costume changes. He seamlessly embodies all these different guys through physicality, and it’s incredible. Co-directed by Colleen Brown and Erin Hill, the directors have taken on the challenge of combining traditional character-based performance with flashback, improv, and cabaret storytelling in an engaging, entertaining manner. And we’re backed by an amazing band for 14 catchy, fun tunes the audience will be familiar with. Jason Mendelson (Musical Director, accompanist) hits the keys, Corey Eveler (guitarist) wails on his axe, and Tommy Beyea (violinist) saws on the fiddle to keep your toes tapping along to the musical numbers.
Keller: Jack O’Reilly is definitely one of the biggest draws. He’s incredible, and his comic timing is spot-on. He manages to play every part, from sweet and wholesome, to overly macho, to batshit crazy and everything in between. Watching him embody these parts is incredible. Add to that funny dialogue and entertaining musical numbers and even some voluntary audience participation—there’s not a lot you’d want to miss!
Any chance some of the ex-es might come to the show?
Kendra: There is definitely a chance that the men will show up, as the vast majority of them are locals. While we have changed names to protect the not-so-innocent, I think they’d recognize themselves. It will probably be pretty awkward…for them. There are a few that I’d hope show up–it would be fun to see them squirm.
What have you been learning during rehearsals?
Hayden: Real life really is stranger than fiction. There are countless scenes in 13 Men that are what I like to call accidentally hysterical. They are scenes that weren’t very amusing when happening in real life—like someone breaking up with me, for example—but are hilarious when acted out on stage because they are so over the top ridiculous. And true. The scenes actually happened, and that’s the best part.
Keller: I agree whole-heartedly with Faith. During rehearsals, we’ve found that asking each other how things went down in reality tends to be the most entertaining way to portray it. A phrase that has come up regularly throughout this process is “you can’t make this stuff up.” Many of these stories were painful in the moment. In fact, some of them are still painful. But they are all entertaining.
What would you like audiences to take away with them?
Hayden: At its core, 13 Men is about friendship. It’s about your best girlfriends supporting you regardless of what boneheaded relationship decision you’re making at the time. Boys may come and go, but your girlfriends love you unconditionally. That’s the sentiment I want people to leave with—stick together and it will be okay.
Keller: We want the audience to remember that terrible breakup, that bizarrely awful date, that unrequited love. That said, we also want them to realize how funny some of these moments were in retrospect. We want them to walk away reminiscent of those relationships, but more importantly, remembering those friends who have been there through them all.
13 Men is onstage at Lab II – Atlas Performing Arts Center,1333 H Street NE,Washington, DC
Performances are: July 11 at 6:45 pm.; July 13 at 4 pm.; July 22 aat 8:45 pm;
July 26 at 5:45 p.m. and July 27 at 2:30 pm
Details and tickets or call 866-811-4111.
— Guest writer Faith Hayden is a writer by trade, and co-founder of Leopard Print Productions.