[NoHo Arts District, CA] – Sparks fly in more ways than one in the world premiere of Back Porch at Victory Theatre Center June 2-July 9.
Life imitates art when Hollywood descends upon a small Kansas town in 1955 to shoot scenes for the classic film, Picnic. Bluestem Productions presents the world premiere of Back Porch, written by Eric Anderson and directed by Kelie McIver.
Sparks fly in more ways than one in Anderson’s delightful homage to both moviemaking and the play that inspired the Columbia film. Barney Opat (Karl Maschek) is the single father of two boys: 18-year-old Gary (Isaac W. Jay), who yearns to escape small-town Kansas life for a more glamorous existence, and energetic 13-year-old Del Wayne (Cody Lemmon). The family’s life is upended when a handsome stranger working as William Holden’s stunt double (Jordan Morgan) blows into town alongside the all-star Picnic cast. Other characters include the Opats’ bachelor boarder, singing teacher Myron Uhrig (Eric Zak), and their next-door neighbor, Millard Goff (Jonathan Fishman).
“When I was four years old, portions of the film Picnic were filmed one county away from my home,” says the Kansas born-and-bred Anderson. “My family drove to the location one evening to take part in the “Neewollah” scene on the river. I’ve been crazy about movies — and theater — ever since. With Back Porch, I wanted to pay tribute to a significant American playwright who was also significantly closeted. I hoped to write the kind of play that he himself might have written had he lived in another time and place.”
“Back Porch is a love letter to William Inge, and it’s also a terrific ensemble piece in which each character has an interesting and beautiful arc,” says McIver, who also hails from Kansas. “I love them all and want to hang out with them.”
The creative team for Back Porch includes set designer Kenny Klimak, lighting designer Carol Doehring, sound designer Cinthia Nava, costume designer Molly Martin, stunt/fight choreographer Brett Elliott and intimacy director Amanda Rose Villarreal. The stage manager is Margaret Magula. David Willis and Kelie McIver produce for Bluestem Productions.
Anderson graduated from the University of Kansas with an M.A. in theater, then moved to Minneapolis, where his plays were produced at the Illusion Theatre, Park Square Theatre, Lagniappe Theatre, Theatre in the Round and Children’s Theatre. He has written plays for National Public Radio, and was a founding member of the Playwrights Center. He and his husband now live in Hawaii, where his plays have been produced at Kumu Kahua Theatre and The Actors Group in Honolulu, as well as at the University of Hawaii in Hilo. Currently he is collaborating with composer Kim Sherman on an opera based on the Willa Cather stories Song of the Lark and The Sculptor’s Funeral. Up next will be the premiere of his latest play, Olive’s Lover, at The Actors Group Honolulu in the fall of this year.
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