Hollywood, Nebraska, the six-actor comedy by Kenneth Jones that reunites two high school friends in their hometown in the Great Plains, will get its third production in a rolling world premiere agreement Feb. 2-18, 2023, by Wetumpka Depot Players in Wetumpka, AL, near Montgomery. The play about small towns, big dreams and two actresses coming home to face family is licensable through the author following fall 2022 productions by Oak Ridge Playhouse in Tennessee and Lamb Theatre in Sioux City, IA.
Rehearsals for the Wetumpka production began Jan. 2 under the direction of Cushing Phillips.
All three companies are part of a rolling world premiere arrangement that allows for independently produced stagings of the play in which the author is a participant in the process. Jones was in residence for the Oak Ridge production, where the play was revised, with rewrites sent on to Iowa and Alabama.
In Wetumpka, near Montgomery, Hollywood, Nebraska is the opener of the 43rd season. Kristy Meanor is artistic director of Wetumpka Depot Players. The cast features Leslie Blackwell as Andrea, Elizabeth Bowles as Jane, Angie Mitchell as Alma, Douglas Mitchell as Robert, Drewe Rowell as Katie and Jay Russell as Lance. The stage manager is Sharron Ganjei. The Tennessee scenic designer Katherine Stepanek will see her work recreated in Alabama. Get tickets here.
Hollywood, Nebraska can also be downloaded at NewPlayExchange.org. A license fee is required for any staging or production.
Here’s how Wetumpka Depot Players bills Hollywood, Nebraska:
“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.”
“I’m honored that companies are taking a risk on an unpublished play — I’m lucky to get to grow the script through conversations with directors in rehearsals for these three productions,” Jones said. “I think the universal idea of ‘coming home’ is one of the reasons why the companies embraced the play. After the worst days of the pandemic, audiences are coming home to theaters again. And they want comfort and nourishment and hope.”
The contemporary play 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.
Jones is best known for his six-actor drama Alabama Story, seen in more than 40 theaters. It’s published and licensed by Dramatists Play Service. Its Acting Edition was published by DPS in fall 2022.
Nora Chester as Alma in the Wyoming Theater Festival workshop production of “Hollywood, Nebraska.”