Actors and egos compete for The Money Shot

Michael Patrick Denis, Kate Issac, Lara Amelie Abadir and Vivian Tang star in a new local production of Neil LaBute’s The Money Shot.

Neil LaBute is known for making audiences uncomfortable. In films and plays like In the Company of Men and Reasons to Be Pretty, he illuminates sexual and social mores that most of us like to ignore. Recently, we’ve seen another side of the writer/director—as a co-creator of the SyFy series Van Helsing.

For a taste of the theatrical LaBute, audiences can catch a new local production of his 2014 play The Money Shot. According to a Variety review, the play is “an acid-tongued showbiz satire.” The review also notes that “This is a somewhat kinder, gentler LaBute piece, in which cruelty takes a backseat to a kind of blithe, self-absorbed cluelessness.”

Billed as LaBute’s first outright comedy, the play is based on his adventures in Hollywood. In it, Karen and Steve—two glamorous movie stars who are no longer box-office draws—take a stab at making another hit, this time with a hot-shot European director. But the night before filming a big scene, Karen, her partner Bev, Steve, and his aspiring actress wife Missy meet to discuss the film, a meeting that results in exposed egos and more.

We talked to director David C. Jones talks about the play, which runs May 2-6 at Studio 1398 (1398 Cartwight Street) on Granville Island. Ticket info below.

Q: What attracted you to the material? 

A: I have always been attracted to dark and provocative comedies. Laughing at bad behaviour is so liberating. I directed the Canadian premiere of Heathers the Musical as well as Ruthless! The Musical, and both those shows had unexpected murders in them as jokes. I also produced and acted in Romance by David Mamet (a pick of the Fringe in 2012). Gasping in shock while laughing gives you such a head rush, it’s a wicked high for those who aren’t too sensitive. Oh, I should point out no one dies in The Money Shot, except morality.

Q: The play sounds like the kind of piece actors would die to play. Was it easy to cast? 

A: Michael Patrick Denis is the producer and he cleverly cast himself in the part of Steve. We were overwhelmed with the number of actresses who wanted one of the other three parts. As with all my works I wanted to make my show cast to be inclusive and representational so I kept my eyes open for that. Although we saw a number of brilliant actors the three that stood out for me all brought some sort of unique humanness and a delicious sense of humour. Luckily all my first choices said “yes”. (Besides Denis, the cast includes Kate Issac as Karen and Lara Amelie Abadir as Kate’s lover. Vivian Tang makes her stage debut as Missy, Steve’s intended.)

Q: Is there one line or dialogue exchange that rings particularly true and/or funny? 

A: There are lines that make me laugh out loud that I think are too dirty or scandalous to print, but here is an exchange that I like:

Bev: No, this guy struts around here, acting like he actually means something because he can stand in front of an audience without pissing himself and I for one, am sick of it!

Steve: You try doing it, you little muff diver!

Bev: I did! In second Grade!

Q: How much do you follow LaBute’s career? Apparently, he is the co-creator of a SyFy series, Van Helsing!

A: I have been a big fan of his work for a long time. I use one of his plays in my Scene Study class (I teach at Vancouver Film School).

Q: Besides the Money Shot, do you have a particular favourite LaBute piece? If so why?

A: There was a production of Bash done locally that starred Mack Gordon that I found particularly chilling. The Money Shot is Mr. LaBute’s first overt comedy.

The Money Shot

When: May 2-6
Where: Studio 1398 (1398 Cartwight Street) on Granville Island
Tickets: $26 Wednesday and Thursday 8 pm, $31 Friday and Saturday 8 pm, and $21 for Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm at


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