Greenwich comedian Jane Condon is on a roll.
A Broadway roll. Well, almost. She’s thisclosetoBroadway and has been making audiences laugh … and cry with her one-woman, Off-Broadway show “Janie Condon: Raw & Unchained.” Audiences have been laughing so much during the past month, the run of the show Condon wrote and stars in, has been extended to mid-May at the St. Luke’s Theatre on West 46th Street.
Condon is a familiar, genial face with a rapier-sharp wit to legions of fans. She has performed at The Arcadia Coffee Co. in Old Greenwich, the Rye Arts Center, and on Nantucket … that’s in addition to appearing in clubs in New York including Caroline’s.
The woman, whom the Associated Press has called “an upper crust Roseanne,’’ also was voted audience favorite on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.”
Sitting in the kitchen of the home she shares with her husband (she describes her marriage as ‘mixed’ – she’s Catholic and Ken is Republican), Condon openly discusses the bittersweet evolution of “Raw & Unchained.”
“It is my heart story. It is the best thing I’ve ever done,” said Condon, who has lived in Greenwich since the 1980s. Using real-life experiences, Condon’s story explores mental illness – a topic she is passionate about. Her late brother Jack was bi-polar. “This is storytelling, not stand-up comedy,” she added.
“It is about mental illness – which is still in the closet. There are light and dark stories. It is 1 hour of hilarity with 10 minutes of (seriousness), ending with 10 minutes of hilarity,” she explained.
In addition to pre- Off-Broadway runs at the Ensemble Theatre in NYC, Condon performed “Raw & Unchained” at the State Theatre in Falls Church, VA, as a fundraiser for the National Alliance on Mental Health, Northern Virginia.
On the extension of her show (which originally was scheduled to close this weekend), Condon said, she is “So happy about the show being extended because this is my heart story. (It’s the) best thing I've ever done.”
The show is a labor of love that spanned a few years. She got her break a couple years ago while performing it on Nantucket. Playwright Susan Sandler, of “Crossing Delancey” fame, caught the show and approached Condon about bringing it to the Ensemble Theatre in New York where she could perfect it. Condon called Sandler “my fairy godmother. … She gave me the director and found a producer.”
Condon is quick to credit her success to the production team behind her that includes producer Kim Vasquez and veteran theater director Gus Kaikkonen. The team bonded, Condon said, because “all but one of them is Catholic. Some of them are from Connecticut and a number of them have mental illness in their family.”
In addition to her advocacy on mental health issues, family, her childhood and her Catholic upbringing and education at Cardinal Spellman High School in Brockton, Mass., are close to her heart. Condon wears her Cardinal Spellman heart on her sleeve too. Well, make that both of her sleeves. As part of “Raw and Unchained.” Condon dons a vintage Cardinal Spellman blazer – compliments of one of her high school chums who found it on the Internet.
She keeps tabs on her other alma mater – Wellesley College. Condon is immensely proud and impressed that the institution selected her to be this year’s commencement speaker.
“I thought, ‘Is Nora Ephron dead?’ What about the astronauts, Madeline Albright, (secretary of state) Hilary (Clinton),” Condon recalled with a laugh. “I was ever so pleasantly surprised.”
So now, in between her at-home rehearsals fine-tuning her 4 weekly performances, Condon is putting the finishing touches on the speech she will give to 600 Wellesley grads on May 27.
“Wellesley gave me a very broad education. I was a political science major and I wanted to save the world,” explained Condon, who has worked as a journalist and has several television credits including appearances on “The View,” “24” and “Girls Night Out.” “Now I just want a big, red tomato in my garden and this is my Oscars,” she said of being selected to give the graduation address. “I just wish my Mom was here to see it.”
Additional performances of "Janie Condon: Raw & Unchained!" are Mondays and Tuesdays, May 2-3, 9-10, and 16-17 at 7 p.m.; plus previously scheduled performances at 5 p.m., Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, May 1, at St. Luke's Theatre (308 W. 46th St.). Tickets are $49.50. (Premium tickets are $65.) For tickets, visit Telecharge.com, call 212-239- 6200 or visit the St. Luke's box office.
For more information, visit www.janecondon.com