Cats and dogs, oh my – how could you go wrong, with such great subject matter – it’s a no–brainer. But what you don’t know is how one person’s emotional journey can take them through the best of times and the worst of times, and that is all exhibited through Lisa’s eyes, as well as in her rescued Dogs and Cats perspectives.
Knowing some part of Lisa Wharton’s journey, I was so excited to see what was on tap for this 1 hour one-woman show. Lisa Wharton wrote this emotional roller coaster, which was filled with laughter and sadness; it really tugged at all of our heartstrings. Hey she even cried at one point in the show.
Her journey begins when she tells the story of how she rescues her dog Freeway from the 10 – Santa Monica Freeway, hence the name Freeway. Even how she tries to get him adopted only to fall in love with him herself, and with her dog Lady Bug finding a new pal. The audience was hysterical with all of her wacky physical comedy when describing her pets. She dives into more juicy matter with her own adoption stories of her birth mother, and when her soon to be adopted Mother first brought her home. But what you take away from knowing about Lisa’s adoption is her fear of abandonment, which gave her strength, and made her move forward to a more fruitful life. Her bravery allowed her to help animals in need, making this crusade a huge part of her life. The generosity of spirit in her story is very enlightening, that humans can make a difference when it comes to our furry friends. Lisa is a humanitarian in the truest sense of the word, funding this amazing show and doing it in partnership with animal rescue was very creative and nothing I have ever seen before. Celebrating animals with 75 percent of proceeds going to animal rescue organization.
Other memorable parts of the show for me were when Lisa uses her athletic prowess by roller-skating to the very fun Captain and Tennille. Using the song “Make Someone Happy”, by Jimmy Durante was also very inspiring. She started caring for animals very young, with her many stuffed animals on stage, she talks to all of them and reminisces with the Russian – Mr. Professor, with a comical Russian accent. Her motherly instincts kick in when she puts all of her stuffed animals to bed.
Also, the visual aids of the dogs she spoke about was very helpful because you didn’t have to imagine the faces of these precious angels, you simply see them and melt.
A lot of tragedy struck Lisa’s life at a very young age, with her adopted father telling his family that he didn’t want anything to do with them when she was 9 years old, and then her new father Ron molested some members of her family. Using all of this tragedy Lisa transcends her anger into the joy of giving love to her rescued animals.
A favorite part of the play comes when Lisa climbs on top of a riser in the front of the stage and howls like all of her canine friends. It is a very freeing moment, one where we can see all of her emotional layers removed and her rescue efforts shine through. Lisa is very creative; she even coined some terms that we have never heard like, “see you in a bitsy”. Lisa’s fun, irreverent characters really added a special nuance that helped her audience realize how versatile her talent really is. Let me put it to you this way, if you were a dog or cat you would Lisa to be your owner. She may have her ups and downs, but the fun and love she radiates makes her the best pet owner in the world!
Writer / Performer: Lisa Wharton has held lead and supporting roles in several independent films including Razor’s Ring, The Light, Teachers and Anarchy TV and Clocking the T.
If you look closely, you might recognize her as PetSmart employee in the PetSmart National Adoption Weekend commercial. This fall, she will appear in Criminal Confessions premiering on the Oxygen Network.
Lisa began her acting training in San Francisco with the acclaimed Jean Shelton and then with her son, Christian Phillips at the Actor’s Theatre before moving to Los Angeles in 2007. Lisa was a company member of the Actor’s Theatre in San Francisco for three years. Her favorite theatre roles include Honey in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and Madame X in Strindberg’s The Stronger and Thelma in A Trip to Bountiful where she shared the stage with Jean Shelton.
Lisa is a passionate animal advocate. She started volunteering with animal rescue organizations 10 years ago. While in San Francisco she volunteered with the ASPCA’s Animal Therapy program. Lisa’s magic-wand wish is to end all animal cruelty in the world.
Lisa currently works as an Account Supervisor for an advertising agency. Think “Mad Men” without the day drinking. She lives in Los Angeles with her three rescue animals.
About The Show: STRAYS: We all feel a little lost sometimes, is a heartfelt, funny journey of one woman’s experiences in the animal rescue world as she finds the parallels of her own story having been adopted twice. Through the animals, she faces her own fears of abandonment, the guilt of not being able to protect the ones she loves and finds hope, one rescue at a time.
Director: Lisa Nicole Lennox is a film and stage director who worked the theatre circuit in the San Francisco Bay Area for eight years. After moving to Los Angeles, she worked as an actor and casting associate but found directing to be her spark and the best way to share her creative voice. She finds the exploration of the human condition to be fascinating and enjoys delving into the many layers of life on film and stage. She teaches acting at The Young Actors Studio in North Hollywood. Lisa graduated from Michigan State University with a BA in Theatre.
Who’s Who: Producer-Lisa Wharton, Director and Set Design-Lisa Nicole Lennox, Publicity-Anita J. Lee & Sandra Kuker, Lighting Design- Donna Willet, Stage Manager-Amanda Reimer, Graphic Designer- Lizzy Margiotta, Website Design-Angela Valley, Rescue Extraordinare and Fundraising Coordinator: Claudia Garcia
This show is dedicated to the all the resilient beings that have suffered at the hands of cruelty. And, to the tireless animal rescue volunteers that help make the world a more compassionate place, one rescue at a time.
I just loved the premise and Lisa’s talent is simply remarkable. Going from present to past, each scene had great intent, whether funny or sad she nailed every moment. We really got a glimpse into her dedication, and the comparison of adoption, human or otherwise.
To be so exposed about ones life in a funny touching way will surely make you want celebrate Lisa Wharton’s story and go out and adopt a pet!
Tickets are $28 and available at Brown Paper Tickets: http://strays.brownpapertickets.com
75% of all ticket sales will be distributed between two different animal rescue organizations. The hour-long performances are at 3PM every Sunday, October 29 through Sunday, December 3rd. at The Secret Rose (11264 Magnolia Blvd. North Hollywood, 91601).
Written and Performed by Lisa Wharton
Directed By Lisa Nicole Lennox
Link to Youtube Video:
* Note some text was taken off of their website.