Jacques Lamarre brings his latest play—the first punk-rock, lesbian, Jewish catering show—to TheaterWorks in Hartford.
It started as many of life’s greatest moments do: with the smell of bacon. Jacques Lamarre was at a book expo in New York City, browsing the new releases. And there he was, just hanging around in the small- and academic-press aisle—the best aisle—when he smelled it. Bacon.
“I was like, ‘That’s always of interest,’” says Lamarre. He followed the aroma to a feminist-press booth and it was fronted by the mono-monikered celebrity Chef Rossi, with a tray of peanut butter bacon sandwiches. She was signing her memoir, The Raging Skillet: The True Life Story of Chef Rossi, a Memoir with Recipes.
“I was standing in line with the book, reading the back of it,” Lamarre says. “And by the time I got up to talk to her, I said, ‘Would you be interested in seeing this become a play?’”
When Lamarre moved to Hartford in 1990—he’d been offered a job at Hartford Stage—he fell in love with Hartford’s “tremendous art scene,” he says. Since then, he’s become a staple of that scene. In addition to Hartford Stage, he’s worked with the Hartford Symphony, the Mark Twain House, Real Art Ways, The Wadsworth Atheneum, among others. And he’s an accomplished playwright—The Raging Skillet is his 12th full-length play, and his third for TheaterWorks, where it will premiere on July 20.
Lamarre calls his latest play “the first punk-rock, lesbian, Jewish catering show.” The Raging Skillet, which Lamarre worked on closely with Chef Rossi (and which will star Mary Testa and Barbara Rosenblat, whom you’ll recognize from Netflix’s Orange is the New Black), honors the book’s quirky format, with recipes actually being made on stage.
“It’s going to be very fun,” says Lamarre. “There’s going to be a lot of music, cooking on stage, comedy, and mama drama.” Chef Rossi herself is coming to Hartford to see her story on the big stage, too. (“She is beyond excited about this,” Lamarre says.)
“I love Hartford,” he continues. “It’s been so good for me and so good to me. I’ve been able to make an impact in the cultural scene here that I don’t think I would be able to do in a place like New York. But also I just find the people in the region to be so wonderful. I’m so lucky to have this community.”