When Robert Sylvester Kelly announced that his Trapped In The Closet series was returning with all new chapters the world came to a screeching halt. What’s set to be television’s biggest ratings boom only matched by the Super Bowl, Kells’ drama-filled short film/musical returns November 23 on IFC — which is Black Friday. Today, the Thomas Conner of the Sun-Times caught up with some of the actors of the latest installments and was able to grab some details.
Oh, and I always thought “the package” was that package, but I guess I’m wrong.
IFC will air new chapters at 8 p.m. Nov. 23. Filming for more resumes in the Chicago area in January.
When we last left the colorful, Tyler Perry-esque characters of Big Man, Pimp Lucius, Chuck, Rufus, Cathy, Sylvester, Gwendolyn, Bridget, James and more, they were all trying to determine the whereabouts of a mysterious package.
Like the briefcase in “Pulp Fiction,” we do not (yet) know what is in The Package.
“Ever since then, people have been asking me of course, ‘What is the package, what is the package?’” Kelly told the Associated Press. “And that’s what these chapters are about, is leading you up into what the package is going to be.”
The videos have been shot in and around Chicago, using many Chicago actors. One of them, Eric Lane, who plays Twan, tried to bring us up to date — but even he was derailed retracing the story.
“We left off in chapter 22, with the phone call, and Twan went to see the head mafia guys — oh, what’s that character’s name? There’s so many characters … Joey! He went to see Joey,” Lane tells us. “Everybody receives a phone call talking about the package. Rufus and Chuck started it. The gay pastor might have had it. It’s all coming down to the package.”
The new chapter is brief but introduces two new characters, both played by Kelly: Dr. Perry, a therapist, and Beeno, another crime lord.
Lane, a Chicago actor for nearly 20 years, landed the role of Twan after serving as Kelly’s stand-in on the set. Twan, who first appeared in chapter 4, originally was intended to be featured only in bonus content on the DVD.
“With ‘Trapped in the Closet,’ you have to know the lines line by line because we’re not actually using our voices. He’s talking through the song,” Lane says. “So we have to say exactly what he’s saying. That’s the biggest difference from TV or film. There’s room for improv, but not with the words, only with gestures and actions. So my preparation involves listening to the song 50 or 60 times a day, over and over till I get it down pat.”
Lane says he’s never encountered anything in the tale that made him personally uncomfortable. Well, except one thing.
“I felt a little bad about pulling a gun on Rosie the Nosy Neighbor. Being an elderly woman, I felt uneasy about that,” Lane says. “He did discuss one time some type of situation of me being connected to the [gay] preacher. I said, ‘I hope this isn’t what I think it is.’ We both started laughing.
“But, you know, when this first came out, he got a lot of flak for the gay preacher and stuff like that. He’s like, ‘I’m gonna make this fun. Everybody says it’s too serious.’ That’s why he brought in the midget police and all that. Now people say he got too silly. You can’t please everybody.”
Though if it goes on as long as Kelly hopes, he might cover enough ground to please everybody, after all.
“‘Trapped in the Closet’ is forever,” Kelly said. “I’ve got like a hundred chapters to come. It’s forever.”