SNL Stars Unite To Support Graphic Novel Stage Adaptation

"You know that a play adapted from the diary of a teenage girl growing up in 1970s San Francisco is going to have some weird shit," said "Saturday Night Live's" Seth Meyers as he wrapped up a stand-up set consisting of "Weekend Update" jokes too raunchy to make it past the NBC censors. "Now you're prepared."

Meyers and a gaggle of SNL stars and writers turned out in force last night to support "The Diary of a Teenage Girl," an ambitious multimedia theatre adaptation of the prose/graphic novel hybrid of the same name by writer-artist Phoebe Gloeckner. And while (despite Meyers' argument) a night of comedy may not be the best preparation for the harrowing, heartbreaking, but ultimately optimistic story of young Minnie Goetze and her very adult experiences, it made for a hecka entertaining fundraiser.

Hosted at the 3LD Art & Technology Center in Lower Manhattan-the same venue that will host the play itself-the "Beyond Funderdome Comedy Blowout" featured live comedy from a sizeable chunk of the SNL crew, including writers Hannibal Burress, Colin Jost, John Mulaney and The Lonely Island's Jorma Taccone and stars Seth Meyers, Will Forte, Fred Armisen and Abby Elliot. Comedians Emily Heller, Seth Herzog, Bridey Elliot and The Renaldo The Ensemble were on hand as well. Proceeds from ticket sales went to both the play and to relief efforts in Haiti.

"Diary" producer Aaron Louis told CBR the event came together largely as a family affair: Taccone is married to the show's playwright and star, Marielle Heller. "Mari's been working on ['Diary'] for three years, so she's pretty much distributed the book to everyone she knows," Louis laughed. "[She and Jorma] talked to the SNL crew, and everybody loves the play, so they put it together."

What sets Heller's adaptation of "Diary" apart from a traditional play, and in part necessitates a fundraiser of this magnitude, is its extensive use of multimedia. In addition to the performances by live actors, filmed material and artwork from the book are projected directly onto the stage. Louis pointed out that this is in keeping with the original work, which was itself a mixed media affair.

"The story was [multimedia] to begin with-a novel with illustrations and comics. We're continuing in that same vein." The unique capabilities and technology available at 3LD helped make the show possible, Louis said.

Perhaps in that spirit, "Funderdome" featured its own mix-and-match approach. The Renaldo The Ensemble and Armisen blended music and comedy, Taccone performed The Lonely Island's "Punch You in the Jeans" alongside a video of Andy Samberg ("live via satellite" from the Grammys), Meyers and Forte drew on their SNL material, and-in the evening's other major shout-out to comics-Herzog opened his set with an in-costume dance routine set to the theme from the Wonder Woman TV show.

But the real purpose of the evening was evident not on stage but in the audience, which the "Diary" crew flooded with copies of Gloeckner's graphic novel. And according to Louis, not only did SNL fans walk out with a better knowledge of both the book and the play, the production was able to meet its fundraising goal thanks to the night's turnout.

Directed by Rachel Eckerling and Sarah Cameron Sunde, "The Diary of a Teenage Girl" opens March 15 at the 3LD Arts and Technology Center, 80 Greenwich Street, Manhattan. Furhter information and tickets are available at www.thediaryofateenagegirl.com. Stay tuned to CBR for in-depth coverage of the show.

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