It was American Falls that snagged actor/playwright Miki Johnson the Best Playwright nod at the Houston Press's Houston Theater Awards last August. Falls is Johnson’s first-ever produced work, but Fleaven, produced here by Catastrophic Theatre, is actually her first playwriting effort. The show's title is a mash-up of two characters' names: Flame, a disco star wannabe, and Heaven, an international disco star who left Flame behind on the road to fame. The setting is a mall — a disco mall. The dialogue is in rap-influenced rhyme … spoken by people on roller skates … who also sing sometimes. ''You definitely can't talk about it seriously for long, because it gets ridiculous,'' Johnson tells us, laughing. ''But really, it's about a friendship that's very broken.''
Johnson says writing is a bit of a change from acting for her. ''When I'm acting, I'm that one character. When I'm writing, I'm all of them. In Fleaven, I'm the villain more than anything, but I'm also the good guy. All of the characters are based on my point of view,'' she says be-fore quickly adding, ''but they aren't based on me.'' (Just in case we had any doubts about her secret life as a roller-skating, rap-rhyming disco queen.)
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While rehearsals can sometimes be a battleground with the actors, director and playwright all taking different sides, getting Fleaven on stage has been a relatively smooth process for Johnson and company. That's due in large part, she says, to the talented and professional group she's working with. (Jason Nodler is directing with help from Tamarie Cooper; Noel Bowers, Kyle Sturdivant and Troy Schulze are among the cast; and Joe Folladori is handling the music.) ''We got the cream of the crop, all the best actors, dancers and musicians,'' she tells us. ''I go to rehearsal and I feel like a child. It's so -exciting. Sometimes I will find myself laughing at something that I wrote, and it's kind of embarrassing.''
Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 17. Starts: Nov. 2. Continues through Nov. 17, 2012