A comedy about loss.
A Little More Than You Wanted to Spend is finally coming home. To my hometown, to where it all started. It has been growing for years now. We know the show is powerful; the reaction from audiences has been wonderful. It’s moving, funny, scary and hopeful. It asks the question, “What’s the worst that could happen to a parent,” and seeks to make some sense of that unimaginable tragedy. It has the power to help those who are in grief and those who fear it.
In 2003, my Jess, my luminous six-year-old son, died. What transpired was a harrowing and sometimes – incongruously, impossibly – darkly-funny journey. In a heartbeat, I lost Jess, my identity as a father, my marriage, my livelihood and ultimately my beloved network of friends. I set out on my own – with no earthly idea where I’d end up. I buried my head in my career as an actor and a director and held onto what little was left of my self with my fingernails. But something very scary began to happen; I started losing my memories of my son. I’d stumble upon a picture of him and wonder, “Where was that taken? How old was he?” I worried that he was slowly slipping away from me. Losing the emotional horror of his loss was one thing, but these wonderful times? The joy that was Jess? No. I really only have one place to turn in my life: theatre. I sat down at my laptop and set out my memories of Jess. What emerged was jazz – a raw, stream-of-consciousness piece eventually entitled, A Little More Than You Wanted to Spend. You know, what realtors say to prospective homebuyers, “I know this is a little more than you wanted to spend but . . ..” Sometimes, that’s how I feel about my life. Then began the long work of turning this outpouring into a piece of art. I put everything I have, as a person, as an artist into making the script strong and after several productions around the country, including The Florida Repertory Theatre, Theatre South Carolina, Bricolage, The Depot and The Youngstown Playhouse, we are mounting a full production in New York City in June by New Dog at The Drilling Company. The show has been picked up by this wonderful new theatre company, New Dog, helmed by veteran playwright and director Dean Gray, who was instrumental in the founding of New York’s Signature Theatre Company. We have a terrific director, John Hickok, wonderful lighting/projections designers, Eric Nightengale and Daniel Ettinger and sound designer Michael Keck. This is a labor of love for all involved. My son was a very powerful spirit and his impact on the process is enormous. This show will go on. All we need is your support.
New Dog has chosen A Little More Than You Wanted to Spend for its inaugural production. The Company’s mission is to give emerging American playwrights whose works have been successfully developed and produced elsewhere a chance to be seen and discovered by a new audience – in New York City.
All of the artists associated with A Little More Than You Wanted to Spend are experienced professionals. They require and deserve a living wage. The scenic design has grown more ambitious with the incorporation of digital media and this costs money. In a noisy world of competing appeals, we have to get the word out about this show to the people who need to see it. Everything costs. But the greatest expense is real estate. The Drilling Company is located on 78th Street and Broadway on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It is a beautiful space in a great neighborhood for our show. But we have to make the rent. That’s where you come in. Your support is the last piece of the puzzle, the thing that will bring the face of the lost beloved into focus. Please help if you can. And, either way, come see us, at New Dog, in June. With a little help from our friends, we’ll be there.
“A riveting human experience lived out fully by the urgent and compelling Chris Clavelli.” Dennis Cunningham Channel 2, CBS Evening News “If you have made other plans – consider changing them. I saw this show last night and it is truly amazing. It is funny, moving, meaningful, and one of the best nights of theatre I’ve had anywhere. It’s riveting. Only one night left. If you have ever lost someone you love, you will be moved and maybe changed by this piece.” Mary Ruth Lynn, Producing Artistic Director, The Youngstown Playhouse “Clavelli, Florida Rep's associate artistic director, wrote the 70-minute piece about four years ago. His 6-year-old son Jess (the boy would be 13 now) died suddenly from a bacterial infection. Beyond exploring any parent's worst nightmare, A Little More Than You Wanted To Spend attempts to put the entire grieving process into perspective. What emerges – not unexpectedly – is a fast-paced, entertaining and cathartic therapy session. While it might be difficult to see this particular work being performed by anyone but the writer, Clavelli's talent for storytelling lifts the piece far beyond simple recounting into a powerful piece of theater. A Little More Than You Wanted to Spend offers an honest, soul-baring look at one man’s journey through one of the worst things any parent could experience . . .. [T]he show offers a glimpse of the healing process without seeming morbid, tragic or wallowing in pity. The evening zips by as Chris Clavelli lifts the curtain on grief in honest, emotional and bittersweet fashion.” Chris Silk, Naples Daily News
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Let’s face it, it’s New York. Anything can happen but this is a labor of love by all involved. My son was a very powerful spirit and his impact on the process is enormous. I have been performing for 32 years and have never missed a performance so I am a time-tested actor. This show will go on.
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