When Countryside resident Jim Helein was a child, he sent away for an army set containing 200 army men, tanks and ships. From the commercial, he expected the best. When the package arrived, he got nothing more than tiny, flat cardboard cutouts of army men and even smaller ships and tanks. Needless to say, he was disappointed.
"I remember watching the commercial. I was amazed at all of the army men, the big ships the tanks," he said. "But when it arrived, the package was no bigger than a check box. I was like, 'where’s the rest of the boxes?'"
HELEIN TURNED his fond memories of commercials like that into a one-man show, "Wonders Never Cease," with the help of longtime friends Mario Baldessari and Keith Bridges.
The one-man show was written for Barry Wood, a local magician and mentalist, from Wheaton, Md.
"Wonders Never Cease" is a semi-autobiographical play about Wood’s childhood, growing up as a magician, in his parent’s basement. Wood plays his mother, father and himself as a child.
Helein, Baldassari and Bridges incorporated childhood commercials for X-ray vision goggles, sea monkeys and a coin with the ability to hypnotize, into their play.
"These are things we all remember from our childhood," Helein said. "They usually ended up being a bunch of useless things."
Wood incorporates these things into his routine, to trick the audience.
"He's had seven years of practice," Helein said.
"WONDERS NEVER Cease" will run, from May 12 through June 4, at Washington, D.C.’s Charter Theatre, dedicated solely to the production of new plays. Tickets range from $20 to $25. Purchase tickets online at www.chartertheatre.com, or call 202-333-7009. The show may not be suitable for small children.