Actor/Comedian Peter Bisuito’s COVID-halted TV show becomes two-act play: ‘Vent and Chester’ to debut Nov. 27 in Oakland Park
Long-time writer, director, actor and comedian Peter Bisuito was on the verge of fulfilling the dream of launching a television sitcom when “the coronavirus pandemic shut down the entire project.”
Shaken, but undeterred, the tall, burly performer refused to give up. He suddenly recalled something that Oprah Winfrey said. “Sometimes, failure is the universe telling you you’re going in the wrong direction.”
So Bisuito stepped away from TV and toiled for six months to transform the television program into a two-act play.
Peter Bisuito (Photo by Emitt More)
The revamped and redirected production is finished, cast and ready to be performed at the Center for Spiritual Living, 4849 N. Dixie Highway in Oakland Park starting Nov. 27 at 7:30 p.m. The show, called Vent and Chester, “is a funny and heartwarming story about two gay men and their spiritual journeys into lives they are both unfamiliar with,” said Bisuito, who wrote it, directs and plays the role of Vent. “It’ll make you laugh; it’ll make you cry and, who knows? It may even make you think.”
Eight performances are planned: Nov. 27 and Dec. 2, 3, 4 ,5, 9, 10 and 11. “Go to the website www.VentandChester.com. There’s a link telling you how to buy tickets,” he said. In addition to Bisuito, the cast includes some notable local actors, including Larry Buzzeo, Eston Dunn, Daniel Gibson, Marah Lieberman, Brian Bloomer and William Kennedy.
Larry Buzzeo and Peter Bisuito star in Vent and Chester opening Nov. 27 at the Center for Spiritual Living in Oakland Park. (Photo by Michael Murphy)
To mark the opening of what has become a four-year effort, Bisuito is planning “a Hollywood-style premiere” for the first night of the show. He’s urging attendees to don Hollywood attire for the festivities. VIP tables and champagne will abound, he said, and tickets are selling fast.
The upcoming show will not only give Bisuito a second change at achieving the dream he’s had “since I was a kid,” it will also benefit “No Dogs Left Behind,” an organization that rescues canines who are being abused in China. “The group saves dogs that are being harmed, treats them medically until they are well enough to travel. The dogs are brought to Canada and then the United States where they are put up for adoption.”
Actually, he said, that effort was also stymied for a time by COVID. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had banned transporting dogs into the country, but the conveyances have now been restored.
Peter Bisuito (Photo by Andy Armano)
Describing himself as someone “who makes people happy for a living,” Rochester, N.Y.-native Bisuito has been entertaining audiences for more than 30 years. With a slew of sold-out shows in five countries, he has graced the stages of many theatrical venues, including two sold-out shows at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale.
He has also taken lead roles in many theater productions, “including Bill Snibson in Me and My Girl, Bill Sykes in Oliver, Howard in Moon Over Buffalo and Paul Bratter in Barefoot in the Park.”
Bisuito also uses his talents for the betterment of the community, producing comedy concerts and hosting events for charitable organizations — including cancer research, homelessness, HIV/AIDS, children’s programs and animal shelters.
The multi-talented performer traces his desire to “star in a sitcom to when I was a kid. I thought it was just a pipe dream. But in the summer of 2017, I said, ‘To hell with it. I’m going to make myself the star of my own sitcom.’”
He spent two years putting the project together – including writing the script, pulling together funding, renting a professional studio and filming the program before a live studio audience.
“The show got great reviews and won the Festival Favorite Award at the Cinema Diverse Film Festival in Palm Springs, Calif.,” said the show’s creator.
“We knew we had something special,” he said. Then, a serendipitous event happened.
“I found out that an old friend from high school, Vernon Sanders, was head of Amazon Prime Video. A mutual high school friend informed me that Vernon was head of that department. So, I looked him up and contacted him.”
Gleefully, Peter sent him a link to the pilot. But that resulted in unforeseen and unfortunate news. His show was rejected. “The entire comedy department said the show was too limited. That put me in a depression. I asked myself: ‘Why the hell did the universe put me in touch with this man, only to be rejected?’”
Then, the Oprah line came back – and he revived his sitcom effort, instead, recrafting it with a live stage performance twist.
“It’s a solid, amazing script,” he said. “We wanted to perform it at Island City Stage or The Foundry, but they were booked. So, I decided to produce and fund it myself.” He hired 10 professional actors and a crew of pros to build the sets.
The plot? “Chester Bateman, a newly out and recently divorced professor of psychology, was dumped, defrauded and stripped of his life savings by his very first boyfriend. Now, in need of a roommate, in walks Vent, an out and proud, free-spirited, horny bartender.”
“How can these unlikely roommates possibly get along and how do they influence each other’s lives? While Chester tries to find peace and closure from the tragic loss of his first and only love, Vent tries something he’s never tried before… a second date.”
“Lifestyles clash even more when Chester’s sister visits and goes head-to-head with the misogynistic Vent who is forced to deliver her baby at a very inopportune time.”
“It will be a great show,” he said, describing the production as The Odd Couple meets Laverne and Shirley.
Peter Bisuito Bio: As seen on Oprah, writer, producer, director, actor and comedian
Vent and Chester Synopsis: IT’S THE ODD COUPLE MEETS LAVERNE & SHIRLEY!
Cast of Characters: