By Kenneth Jones
In the panhandle of Nebraska, two actresses of a certain age are making a homecoming in their small town. Jane’s in from L.A. to check up on her ailing mother. Andrea’s back from New York to bury her father. A romantic, rueful new comedy about the urge to be creative, the itch to move away and the ache of reconnecting with the family and feelings that you left behind. Note from Playwright: There’s a small town in far western Nebraska where I have spent time, as an outsider, with people I love. Its heyday is over. Its population has dwindled to about 2,400. There is drought. Some storefronts are boarded up. Missile silos that once held weapons aimed at Russia during the Cold War have been decommissioned. An oil boom ended. Interstate I-80 diverted traffic away from Main Street long ago. A railroad cuts through town, but doesn’t offer passenger service. There are farms both fallow and fertile. When I visited there, I walked around town. I browsed at a thrift shop. I took pictures of broken windows at the Wheat Growers’ Hotel. I attended a church service. I shared dinners and played cards in a parlor with widows who loved to laugh and talk about their history. I was curious and inspired. I wondered about residents past and present — who left? who stayed? and why? — and it all made me think more deeply about what it means to lead a “creative life.” That was the jumping off point for my writing Hollywood, Nebraska.
Kenneth Jones is a New York City-based playwright, librettist and lyricist. His play “Alabama Story” was a 2016 nominee for the Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award and 2014 Finalist in the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference. It had its world premiere by Pioneer Theatre Company in Salt Lake City in 2015. By spring 2018, it will have been produced in at least ten cities around the U.S. His play “Two Henrys,” a Semi-Finalist in the O’Neill NPC, was first seen in Pioneer’s 2016 Play-By-Play series. A revised version played a 12-performance developmental workshop produced by the Co-Op of Pacific Resident Theatre in Venice, CA, in fall 2016. A further revision got a February 2017 reading by Hudson Stage Company in Westchester, NY. “Hollywood, Nebraska” was previously developed in Off-Broadway’s 2016 NewTACTics New Play Festival. With Karen Azenberg, he co-conceived the holiday musical “It Happened One Christmas” (Pioneer 2015). His darkly comic Christmas revue “Naughty/Nice” (with composer Gerald Stockstill) was performed at Caroline’s On Broadway and is published by stagerights.com. His musical “Voice of the City” (with composer Elaine Chelton) was developed by York Theatre Company and Human Race Theatre Company. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, BMI and The 72nd Street Gang Playwrights Collective. He writes about his own plays and advocates for other playwrights, new plays and theatre makers at his website ByKennethJones.com.
ANOTHER ROLL OF THE DICE
A musical by Mark Saltzman, based on stories of Damon Runyon and songs by Frank Loesser
“Another Roll of the Dice” might well be called “More Guys, Other Dolls.” But this is not quite a sequel to “Guys and Dolls,” which was also based on Damon Runyon’s famous Broadway tales. “Dice” will present three separate Runyon tales enhanced, as “Guys and Dolls” was, with songs of Frank Loesser, some rarely performed gems, most iconic songs from his catalog of hits, like “Heart and Soul,” “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” “See What the Boys in the Back Room Will Have,” “Two Sleepy People,” and “Let’s Get Lost.” The songs and stories will be blended in the best tradition of musical comedy style, with a cast of six and small band, creating a show that could be easily produced in theaters throughout the world.
Mark Saltzman began his career in New York with Jim Henson, writing for the Muppets. His “Sesame Street” sketches and songs (including “Caribbean Amphibian”) earned him seven Emmy Awards, but behind Kermit’s back, Mark was writing cabaret shows and musicals that played at The Ballroom, Soho Rep, 13th Street Theater, and the Village Gate, where he co-wrote the long-running revue “A, My Name is Alice.” For network television, Mark collaborated with Jerry Herman on the tv movie “Mrs. Santa Claus” starring Angela Lansbury. For the movies, he wrote “The Adventures of Milo and Otis” and “Three Ninjas Kick Back” and has written and sold screenplays to SONY, Universal, and Disney. His TV movie, “The Red Sneakers” directed by and starring Gregory Hines, aired on Showtime in 2004 and was nominated for a Writers Guild Award. Mark’s musical play, “The Tin Pan Alley Rag” opened at the Pasadena Playhouse in 1997 and was nominated for five Los Angeles Ovation Awards, including Best Musical. The show continued to play in theaters throughout America, including The Coconut Grove Playhouse, Goodspeed, and The Cleveland Playhouse and had a successful run at New York’s Roundabout Theater in the summer of 2009. Mark’s stage musical, “Romeo and Bernadette” played at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami and has been produced at the The Paper Mill Playhouse, as well as internationally in Seoul and Manila. The show was retooled at the Wyoming Theater Festival in 2015. Mark was especially proud that he was selected by the Rodgers and Hammerstein organization to adapt the classic Show Boat for a performance at the Hollywood Bowl. His newest musical “Falling For Make Believe” opened in April 2013 at the Colony Theater in California. Mark is a graduate of Cornell University’s English and Theater Departments. He makes his home in Los Angles, with his partner Ron Gutierrez and their chow, Blanca. More information at www.msaltzman.com.
By Gabrielle Sinclair
As America attempts to manifest a unified future following the Civil War, a revolutionary experiment in education is commencing in upstate New York: The nation’s first liberal arts college for women, Vassar, is opening its doors to 353 young female students from around the country. And one student, Elizabeth, urged on by the women in her intensely political family, is determined to make something of herself. Emboldened by an unusual and awe-inspiring female professor to “question everything,” and in a time when “excessive thinking” and physical activity were believed by many to cause infertility or worse, she does something big: she starts a baseball team. Inspired by America’s earliest women baseball players, this is an origin story about who we choose to be when no one is watching, what we’re willing to sacrifice to win, and the unifying power of America’s favorite game.
Gabrielle Sinclair is playwright and devised theatre artist based in Greensboro, North Carolina. Her plays are urgent, uncanny, and fueled by unspeakable hope. Current and recent projects and plays include: THE BRIDE PROJECT (Lonesome George, Austria tour 2016), SHOWING (Ingram New Works Lab), and GHOST NOTES (2015 North Carolina New Play Prize), among others. She is currently writing a play inspired by the first women baseball players just after the Civil War for Infinite Variety Productions in NYC. Her work has been developed or presented through the Ingram New Works Project at Nashville Rep, with the Actors Studio Playwright-Directors Workshop, the Wyoming Theater Festival, The Annoyance Theater, the chashama Performance Series, the Sweat Shop at The Paradise Factory, Horse & Cart’s PlayOffs, The Metropolitan Playhouse Living Literature Festival, as a resident of The Celebration Barn Theater in South Paris, Maine, and as resident playwright of Lonesome George Productions. Gabrielle lives in Greensboro with her husband and son, leads playwriting workshops, and makes local pop-up theatre with her company The Storyhound Theatrical Detective Agency. Associate member – Dramatists Guild. BA – University of South Carolina. MFA Playwriting – Actors Studio Drama School, NYC. More information at gabriellesinclair.com.