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071119-mda-nws-playcrafters

Playcrafters' latest production, "Something Intangible," features, from left, Kayla McKay as Sonia, Adam Cerny as Dale and Anthony Natarelli as Tony in a tale about two movie-making brothers that was inspired by Walt and Roy Disney.

The latest production at Playcrafters — “Something Intangible" by Bruce Graham — is a period dramedy that takes a fictionalized twist based on the lives of Walt and Roy Disney.

It's an animated tale of two moviemaking brothers who battle the bank, industry insiders and each other as they fight to finish a film that could either elevate them to immortality or sink them to Skid Row, according to a synopsis.

The place is Hollywood, 1941. Dale Wiston (played by Adam Cerny) is seeing a psychiatrist. He and his brother, Tony (Anthony Natarelli), have built their careers on the back of their hugely popular cartoon character Petey Pup (a riff on Mickey Mouse).

But now Tony, the mercurial creative mastermind, wants to forget about Petey and make something more artistic: a feature-length animated film set to classical music (a la Disney's “Fantasia," their third animated feature, released in 1940).

Dale, the pragmatic financial chief, is more concerned with keeping their company afloat. As Tony's fanatical drive to cement his legacy drives everyone to the breaking point (mentally and monetarily), Dale risks almost everything to keep the film and his family from falling apart, the synopsis says.

The play's title comes from that thing in any artistic endeavor "that makes it pop, that makes it interesting — that intangible thing that makes an audience grab on to it," director Mike Turczynski said Tuesday, noting Dale is the Roy character.

"Something Intangible" is basically the dream of Walt (Tony) to make "Fantasia," to push the envelope, based on his attending a classical concert at the Hollywood Bowl. In the play, their feature is called "Grandioso," Turczynski said.

"It's very much an ode to the creative process," he said of the play. "The creative side doesn't always get along with the business side, and the artistic  side doesn't always care. Walt was not one to compromise, and Roy wasn't one to push back too hard."

The dramatic clashes between the brothers do erupt, said Turczynski, who directed Playcrafters' "Avenue Q" in May. "Tony is never really satisfied."

"I never feel like I did fully what I set out to do. I always feel like we can do more," he said. "I really connect with that on an artistic level. It's all about the artist constantly trying to make it perfect."

A review of a 2011 Virginia production, at richmond.com, said: “There is noise and color around the edges of 'Something Intangible,' but the story is far more concerned with the quieter, grayer beats in the life of two very different men living in 1940s Hollywood, particularly the life of the decent and hard-working, Dale.”

This play contains adult language and subject matter that may be offensive to some viewers. "It's how people talk," Turczynski said, adding it was written about 10 years ago and he was production manager for a version in Naples, Fla., in 2012. "It's a really interesting story."

"Something Intangible" will be performed at Playcrafters Barn Theatre, 4950 35th Ave., Moline, 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday (plus July 19 and 20), and 3 p.m. Sunday (plus July 21). Tickets are $10 on opening night for all; and $13 the rest of the run, with $10 for military, seniors (60+), and students, available at 309-762-0330 or at playcrafters.com.

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