Bell Boulevard will soon be the temporary home of a one-man show written, produced and performed by a Bayside resident.
A vacant storefront along the bustling venue will soon be repurposed into a pop-up theater hall and feature “The Boy on the Bureau,” a one-man show by actor and writer Lon Blais.
“It’s a story of finding my own version of my family’s truth,” Blais said. “A story of my coming to grips with my family: who I really was and who they really were.”
The show — what Blais describes as a “stage documentary” — examines what it was like to grow up in his home from his point of view: being “the white sheep” of the family, as he puts it. After giving the show a trial run last month at the same location, the production is back in Bayside for three more nights before it travels across the country.
“It’s a little edgy, a little comic,” Blais said, who referenced the style of playwrights and actors John Leguizamo and Spalding Gray as creative influences.
“Lon sets up the rich, complex dynamics of a large, dysfunctional family filled with jealousies and envies large and small, backstabbing, decades-long withholds, and webs of deceit,” wrote one attendee on the production’s website. “Lon’s family members are, of course, strangers to us. By the end of the performance, we’re no longer strangers, and we’ve come to know Lon on an incredibly intimate basis.”
Born in Salem, MA, and raised in the nearby town of Danvers, Blais is one of nine children.
“I ended up being the favorite child: not a position I ran for,” Blais said.
Blais explained that he originally set out to write from all of his siblings’ perspectives, but that he eventually decided to focus on his own narrative point of view for this production.
“What I’ve written is a prequel to what I thought I was going to write,” Blais continued. “[My point of view] was so dense I turned it into a whole play.”
Blais earned a degree in theater and was a teacher until he retired in 2004 to pursue an acting career. Together with his wife, he ran a theater company for some time.
Blais has been a Bayside resident since 1989. While workshopping the production in Astoria, he was approached to bring the show to his current hometown.
You should catch it while you can: the production heads out on a cross-country tour shortly after the Bayside showings.
“Five days later I’ll be performing the play in Gloucester, MA,” Blais said.
Planned stops in 2017 currently include Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, Omaha and Phoenix. After touring, Blais plans on taking time to write from his siblings’ points of view, with their permission.
Tickets are $20 each and can be purchased through the show’s Facebook page via message, or by calling or texting 646-996-6231.
“It’s so much of a one-man show [that] I am the box office” Blais joked.
The show will be performed at 41-23 Bell Blvd. this Friday through Sunday. Friday, Nov. 4, and Saturday, Nov. 5, showings will begin at 8 p.m. and the Sunday, Nov. 6, showing begins at 6 p.m. Visit the show’s website for more information.