Upside Down with David Cerda. An “Inside” look at POSEIDON!

Upside Down with David Cerda. An “Inside” look at POSEIDON!

(left to right) Steve Kimbrough, Elizabeth Lesinski, David Cerda and Dan Hickey rehearse for Hell in a Handbag Productions’ 2009 revival of “POSEIDON! An Upside Down Musical.” Photo by Rick Aguilar Studios.

By David Cerda

It’s Sunday morning and I am continuing my scavenger hunt that has been going on for the past week. I am on a desperate search for mic packs – I know we have some, but they are buried beneath something in the forbidden storage area located in what seems like another state.

Yesterday it was music stands with those little lights and five folding chairs that musicians can sit on for 2 ½ hours and nine chairs for our actors that play ‘Poseidonites.’ I ordered a gold tinsel curtain at 2 am last night and 100 batteries arrived yesterday afternoon. I do this while trying to get off book for “Golden Girls” late night show and writing the next “Golden Girls” show and performing in “The Ruse of Medusa.” This is the glamorous life for a producer/actor/writer/laundress with a small Chicago theater company.

Sunday night we had our first run with costumes, most of the set, and the band. A band! We used the brand-new mics we purchased – a first for Hell in a Handbag.

Watching the show was quite frankly, weird and oddly emotional. “POSEIDON! An Upside-Down Musical” has a lot of history for me – a lot of ‘firsts,’ in my 25-year Chicago theater life. I was in the in both the original 2002 production and the 2009 remount. I know this show like the back of my hand, so seeing it reimagined by the very talented director, Derek Van Barham, and designers is a lesson in trust. Trust is one of the reasons I decided to use Derek for this show, as we have worked together on quite a few projects.

As I watch the run, I am constantly reminded of Matt Gunnels, the director of POSEIDON! in 2009, and I wish he was around to see this – wondering, what would Matt do in this situation? What would Matt do with this budget? We had a way of communicating that I just don’t have with other directors. A style that is not so fashionable now – we were just very blunt with each other and it was fine, because we laughed and knew each other so well. Matt loved our style of theater and knew how to make it shine.
Of course, so does Derek – but he’s not Matt. And I’m not the same David from 2009. Now I am nearly perfect. I should be 100% perfect by the next POSEIDON! remount in 2031

POSEIDON! runs through April 28th. For more information on the show visit brownpapertickets.com.


David Cerda is the Artistic Director and co-founder of Hell in a Handbag
Productions. Cerda has written or collaborated on Caged Dames, Sexy Baby, Lady X: The Musical, Christmas Dearest, Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer, SCARRIE – The Musical, Snowgirls – The Musical, and many others. He has also worked as a songwriter with Amazon Studios, and as an actor around Chicago. In 2016, Cerda was in inducted into the Chicago GLBT Hall of Fame and in 2017 he received a Lifetime Achievement Jeff Award for his contributions to the Chicago theater community and philanthropic efforts.

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