From Black Box to Jewel Box

Written By: Mindy Leaf

Ronnie Larsen has been busy making a name for himself as an actor, director, playwright and producer for three decades now – to growing acclaim locally, nationally and abroad. He was often seen staging plays and acting in his home turf of The Foundry in Wilton Manors, whose kitschy flexible space was known for its avant-garde horror shows, hard-core LGBT fare, and immersive Off-Off Broadway-type experiences rarely found elsewhere in South Florida. 

Simply put, Ronnie (as he prefers to be called) has long been a very busy, creative guy who just seems to grow better, and more ambitious, with age. Having thoroughly enjoyed his autobiographical dramedy, The Actors (reviewed here last September), I was excited about attending his latest, suitable-for-general-audiences world premiere. ONE MORE YESTERDAY, now playing at The Foundry, is billed as a Ronnie Larsen Presents in association with Plays of Wilton production. The play’s a fully realized original musical, written and directed by Ronnie Larsen, with lyrics by Dennis Manning, music by Dennis Manning (who’d also collaborated with Ronnie on 2019’s multi-award-winning Now & Then, among others) and Bobby Peaco. 

Peaco also serves as musical director and this NYC pro, who Jerry Herman called “the best show pianist I have ever heard,” was sitting in the front corner of The Foundry’s circa 50-seat theater, playing piano accompaniment throughout the show! As you may have noticed, live music performance at musicals is increasingly rare in South Florida, even for the larger venues. And here I was getting the full musical experience at this delightful production – packed with poignancy, comedy, and a ten-member company singing and dancing their hearts out to choreography by award-winning Oren Korenblum.

From my second-row seat of four rows of stadium-high seating that gives everyone a “front row” view, I felt like one of those privileged elite who gets to see a private preview of what could go on to become a hit Broadway musical! With incredible stars – but I’ll get to them shortly. 

First, I should have realized that Ronnie was seriously upping his game as soon as I entered The Foundry … and recognized absolutely nothing. I almost felt a need to confirm I was in the right place, despite the building’s sign outside, as there was no hint of its former decor. No mounted antlered deer-head, for sure, but rather an exquisite crystal chandelier twinkled above the lobby whose walls were now painted in wide pink stripes that brought to mind a designer gift box. The bathroom, too, had been exquisitely revamped as a fantasy in pink and the theater – decked out in old-Hollywood-style chandeliers, an impressive, ruched-velvet burgundy curtain, and new plush seating – was completely transformed from funky black box to lux jewel box. Like a dollhouse version of The Wick.

One More Yesterday – with its underlying theme of rebirth and late-in-life redirection – makes for the perfect introductory show choice for the reimagined Foundry. The story revolves around the travels of an 83-year-old, three-time Tony-award-winning actress (but her last big hit was in 1971) who hadn’t worked for over a decade. Broke and depressed, she continues to define herself as an actor who needs to work in her vocation for life to be worth living. 

Angie Radosh and Casey Sacco star as Lydia of today and yesterday in Ronnie Larsen’s
latest (and maybe greatest) world premiere musical.

South Florida powerhouse and three-time Carbonell winner Angie Rodesh excels as Lydia Parker, the has-been star who can’t stop dreaming about her halcyon days in the spotlight – as in her first big hit as a 22-year-old in One More Kiss. It’s also the name of a production number with her mirror-image from the past. “Young, blonde and beautiful Lydia” (as she sees her) often appears as her shadow self, played by talented tap-dancing dynamo Casey Sacco. But before we get to this duo, we enjoy the play’s eponymous number, One More Yesterday, performed by Lydia, Young Lydia, Abbey, Demi and Karen.

Lydia lives in “a tiny box in a tiny room” – as in the “Tiny Box” introductory song. She can’t afford to give up her third-floor walk-up, $375-a-month, rent-controlled studio in upper Manhattan. We observe her being woken by an early alarm from a narrow bed set in one of several neon-lit doorways which make up the spare, easily movable on-stage furnishings by set designer Melquisedel Dominguez. They work exceedingly well to allow total use of The Foundry’s wide stage for full-cast dance numbers and active chase scenes. 

And, as we increasingly see nowadays, projections by George Schellenger employ the entire back wall to instantly switch locales from a white brick backdrop to a speeding New York City subway, from narrow dark alleys to a majestic forest. Lighting design by Preston Bircher and lights and sound by Panos Mitos complete the illusion. And the casts’ fleet and nimble costume changes – which span the gamut from scruffy hooligan to sharp black-and-white tuxedos and gowns – are a wonder to behold. Credit for great costume design also goes to Casey Sacco.

After her long-time agent passed away, Lydia feels abandoned – not only by the industry but by her talent agency as well. Nonetheless, she pesters her young new Agent (Brandon Campbell), who can’t seem to keep her past acting credentials straight and she refers to as “The Devil,” for work. ANY work. When he congratulates her on her latest birthday, she retorts: “Getting old is not an accomplishment; lots of horrible people grow old.” Then rants about how she’s always sent out for castings that call for her to die, and then doesn’t even get those parts … nor is she chosen to be the famous spokesperson in a litany of commercials for items like bladder-control products, funeral cost preparation, and AARP membership.   

But she does eventually, and quite accidentally, reap international fame and fortune from accepting her one offer of the leading role in a zero-budget, campy horror movie shot on a cellphone for no pay (just points). She plays a killer “little old lady” who dispatches 50 bad guys when they misjudge her for an easy target. After each knitting-needle stabbing of her attackers – ranging from individual purse snatchers to a drug cartel – “Vigilante Granny” recites the two lines that are destined to become the chosen meme of underestimated seniors everywhere: “Granny ain’t dying today. Don’t mess with the vigilante granny.”  

But before all that, while on the set of this shoestring production, she gets to meet what may be her oldest and most sincere fan – who also happens to be extremely well-versed in Shakespeare, Broadway shows and, especially, her entire stage and film career. The part of Lydia Taylor “fan extraordinaire” and lightly talented song-and-dance man is played by our own award-winning local celebrity actor, Avi Hoffman. As Lydia’s endearing love-interest Benji Nicholson – the most patient, considerate, mop-wielding janitor/suitor ever – he shyly but persistently asks Lydia out for a dinner date (her first in 16 years). She’s incredibly wary at first, claiming, “If love came that easy, we would all be in love all the time … It’s just so easy to fall but so hard to remain in love.” But she’s a goner once she joins Benji and his mop – along with a slew of shiny silver mop-heads that all function as dance props – in Act II’s bright company number, “I’m a Great Dancer … in my mind.” 

Angie Radosh wields killer knitting needles as “Vigilante Granny” in ONE MORE
YESTERDAY, a world premiere musical about the actor’s life, love, and the gift of
second chances. Featuring great live music, song, dance, and plenty of laughs. Don’t
miss this latest Ronnie Larsen production, written and directed by Ronnie with lyrics by
Dennis Manning and music by Manning and Bobby Peaco. Now playing at the
spectacularly revamped The Foundry in Wilton Manors.

Additional A-list featured actors/singers are Toddra Brunson as The Director, JaVonda Carter as The Writer and the incredible vocals of Sheena O. Murray who plays Lydia’s estranged daughter Liz. Liz blames her mom for making their life about “Lydia all the time” and always missing her birthday (“I’ll Be Right Here”). Three more highly versatile, quick costume- and character-changing cast members who sing and dance and are perfectly in step for high-stakes action are Abbey Alder (also seen as Makeup Artist and Abbey), Kaelyn Ambert-Gonzalez (also in the role of Auditioner and Karen), and Demi Master (as Demi and, believably, as Liz’s young daughter).  

Like the “That’s a Wrap” reprise when the way-over time and budget horror film is finally finished, I’ll wrap up my review now so as not to reveal the ending except to say: Rush on over to the dazzling new Foundry for a hilarious campy show that’s also charmingly sweet, occasionally silly or sad, will likely ring true for many in the acting profession, and sizzles with catchy showtune-style songs and dance accompanied by live music. Best of all, this musical arrives at a genuinely warm-hearted conclusion that has you leaving the theater feeling optimistic – whatever your stage in life.

Ronnie Larsen’s world premiere musical, ONE MORE YESTERDAY, is playing through May 14 at The Foundry, 2306 N. Dixie Hwy, Wilton Manors 33305. For tickets go to or  

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