Anoka graduate writes, directs on the Fringe

Inspired by a college professor who “was very Italian and very gay,” Jake Sullivan wrote a sentimental comedy called “Esposto!” and won a spot in the 2014 Minnesota Fringe Festival.

Jake Sullivan, 2012 graduate of Anoka High School, debuts his writer and director talents at the 2014 Minnesota Fringe Festival.

Jake Sullivan, 2012 graduate of Anoka High School, debuts his writer and director talents at the 2014 Minnesota Fringe Festival.Photo submitted

“Esposto!” (translation: “exposed”) is the story of the Carmones family – loud, Italian and “in no way whatsoever affiliated with the mob” – who learn a secret about their beloved son on the eve of his induction into the family business.

Can the family hold it together and prove that “blood is indeed thicker than marinara?”

“It’s farcical and funny. It’s sentimental. It’s a  comedy,” said Sullivan, a 2012 graduate of Anoka High School currently pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in musical theater at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

“The message I hope audiences get is acceptance, family ties – that the bonds of family supersede anything else to come your way,” the playwright said.

Sullivan’s theater skills are well-trained, having appeared on stage as a student at Anoka High School, as a member of the Anoka Community Theatre troupe, as an actor in Lyric Arts Main Street Stage productions, and as “Lee” in the 2013 Minnesota Fringe Festival play “Shine,” a musical about anti-bullying. In the weeks prior to the Fringe Festival, Sullivan was on stage in Mankato with the Highland Summer Theatre performance of “Hairspray.”

Sullivan hopes writing and directing a Fringe Festival play is the first step toward an even greater goal: to start his own theater group in the Midwest or in Seattle.

That’s what the Anoka graduate and his college roommate and writer-director partner Charliey Libra hope to do after earning their college degrees. And, he said, the exposure they get with “Esposto!” could be the first step.

The Minnesota Fringe Festival will be a good testing ground, Sullivan said.

“You perform for a very, very diverse crowd during the festival, and you also get to see so many very, very, very different shows,” he said. “There’s always going to be something to please someone.”

“Esposto!” is on stage 8:30 p.m. July 31, 4 p.m. Aug. 2, 10 p.m. Aug. 5, 7 p.m. Aug. 8 and 2 p.m. Aug. 9.  All performances of “Esposto!” take place at The Playwrights Center, 2301 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis.

Due to violence, adult language, loud noises and gunshots, “Esposto!” is best suited for audiences ages 12 and older.

For more about Sullivan’s play, to view the performance schedule and meet the cast, visit andover304k.wix.com/esposto2014.

To see the entire Minnesota Fringe Festival lineup, visit FringeFestival.org.

Sue Austreng is at
sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

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