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January 2, 2014

Knitting Nonie's story

One-man show centers on family's 'firecracker' matriarch

(Continued)

“I have a trilogy of shows on the underbelly of the self-help movement,” he said. “It is a combination of monologue, storytelling and character driven scenes.”

Theater purists have criticized the way Lepore mixes modes of presentation, but he finds that it doesn’t trouble audiences.

“I do this thing where I put the fourth wall up and they’re watching a scene,” he said. “Then I break it and start talking to the audience. It doesn’t confuse the audience at all, but some people have this idea that theater should be one thing.”

“Firecracker Bye Bye” differs from some of Lepore’s other shows in its liberal use of props, which Lepore and his director both felt were important.

“I tend to be a person who just wears black and has a chair and does everything physically,” he said. “As a solo performer I’m used to switching back and forth in my body, facial expression and voice.

“Because my grandmother made all this stuff, I’m using props for the first time in years, and I had to get used to that.”

The vivid colors Nonie used in the things she knitted convey her volatile nature, and help Lepore tell the story.

“She did not fear gaudy, she embraced it,” he said.

The material in “Firecracker Bye Bye” is still evolving, and Lepore expects to be doing the show on a long-term basis.

“I call it a tear-jerker comedy,” he said. “A lot of people come up to me afterwards and say, ‘I felt like I got to know Nonie,’ which is great, because that’s what I want.”

If you go What: "Firecracker Bye Bye" by Seth Lepore When: Thursday through Saturday, Jan. 2 to 4, at 7:30 p.m. Where: Salem Theatre Company, 90 Lafayette St., Salem, Mass. Information: Tickets are $20 at the door, $17 in advance online at www.salemtheatre.com or by calling Ovation Tix at 866-811-4111.

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