Hollywood, Nebraska, the rueful comedy about show people, small towns and coming home, will get a unique presentation in Canada by Naked Stage Readers Theatre, a company known for its barebones concert stagings of scripts. Kenneth Jones’ six-actor play with music about two actresses returning to their hometown for separate family emergencies will surface Feb. 23-25, 2024 at Newtown Cultural Centre in Surrey, British Columbia.
Available for licensing through the playwright, Hollywood, Nebraska enjoyed a rolling world premiere at three American theaters in the 2022-23 theater season, at Oak Ridge Playhouse in Tennessee, Lamb Arts Theatre in Sioux City, Iowa and Wetumpka Depot Players in Alabama. The play was later presented by North Street Playhouse in Onancock, Virginia. In British Columbia, Simon Challenger will direct a cast to be announced.
Here’s how the romantic comedy-drama is billed: “In the Great Plains of Nebraska, two actresses of a certain age are returning to their dying hometown. Jane’s in from L.A. to check up on her ailing mother. Andrea’s back from New York to bury her father. Can childhood friends overcome past hurts to find hope in a place they left behind? Fall in love with a new American comedy about the urge to be creative, the itch to move away and the power of coming home.”
Want to read Hollywood, Nebraska with the aim of possibly producing it? Inquire directly through the playwright, who’ll share a free perusal copy of the script and process any licensing agreements.
The contemporary play about small towns, big dreams, moving away and coming home is a feast for four actresses who are eager to play complex, tough, aspirational characters: two women in their forties who left town years ago, a senior woman who stayed, and a star-struck teenage girl who wants out. They’re abetted by two blue collar men — fiftyish and thirtyish, respectively — in a world that’s bittersweet, funny, sexy, hopeful and homespun. The playwright calls it a “hope-filled, heartfelt, sexy, tears-and-laughter play.”
Hollywood, Nebraska also received earlier development at Off-Broadway’s TACT/The Actors Company Theatre, Wyoming Theater Festival (which produced a full workshop production), Actors Theatre of Indiana, Alma Theatre Company in San Francisco, Ground UP in New York City and Music Theatre of Connecticut.
For those looking for comparisons, the play shares DNA with Steel Magnolias, Broadway Bound and The Rainmaker. Learn more about the play’s history here.
Kenneth Jones is best known for his six-actor drama Alabama Story, the true story of a persecuted librarian in the Civil Rights era. The play has been produced in more than 40 cities around the country. It is published and licensed by Dramatists Play Service. Naked Stage previously presented Alabama Story in a handful of separate bookings.
Naked Stage Readers Theatre’s mission is “to offer engaging, affordable theatre featuring new and experienced actors in a unique performance medium.” According to a company statement, “While our name might imply an erotic happening, it’s the stage that’s naked, not the performers. Our performances don’t have movement, extensive lighting, sound systems or props. The stage is bare except for actors sitting on stools and music stands holding their scripts. This method has been used for decades, mainly in universities and schools; it also has special appeal to seniors who liken it to old-time radio, where the audience had to listen carefully to fully understand the story.” Learn more about the company here.