I will be directing the play, Lessons, by Teri Foltz, for The Drama Workshop’s Home Brew Festival, featuring productions of short plays by local authors. The show dates are June 7, 8 and 9 at the Glenmore Playhouse in Cheviot.
My own play, The Ten Minute Play (with a Nice Picture of Jimmy Carter), will also be part of the festival.
In the Summer of 1974, I directed my first full-length play, The Gingerbread Lady by Neil Simon. One of Simon’s more dark comedies, TGL is the story of Evy, a singer, whose career and life is destroyed by her drinking.
During the Spring of 1974, I was a student at Northern Kentucky University, as a theater major. I had had a lot of fun directing Edward Albee’s The Sandbox and a few scenes form other plays in classes, including a great version of the closing scene of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Jennifer Burkhart was one of the best actresses at NKU and frustrated because she couldn’t find a part that she wanted to play. She brought me a copy of the play and asked if I would look at it and, if I liked it, we could go to the theater head, Bill Parsons, and see if we could do it as summer show. I did like it and pitched it to Dr. Parsons, who agreed to give us a little money to put it on.
So, I was part of great group of friends with theater sound, lighting, props and production experience, so there was no doubt that they were going work on it. This was going to be the first totally student produced show at in NKU’s history. In Nunn Hall, there was a small theater, holding around 150, so after Spring semester was out, we moved in and began to work on the show.
I don’t even think we had auditions. Jennifer was going to be Evy, after all, it was her idea. I cast friends in the other roles. Greg Carstens as Jimmy, Frankie Banta as Polly, Susan Rogers as Tory, Mike Salzman as Manuel and Jerry Helm as Lou.
Mike, Jerry, Debby Wolff and me practically lived in that theater for the two months leading up to the show. Debby was our props mistress and we had a great looking set, designed by Jerry. We even had running water in the set kitchen.
We had some anxieties throughout the rehearsals. Nerves came out. It was a big show, after all, with nuances that I don’t know if we were successful in presenting, but we had fun, that I do remember.