Contemporary Parenting Explored in Billion Dollar Baby Premiere, in Utah

News   Contemporary Parenting Explored in Billion Dollar Baby Premiere, in Utah Salt Lake Acting Company (SLAC) births the world premiere of the solo comedy Billion Dollar Baby by Utah native and SLAC resident playwright Julie Jensen Nov. 9-Dec. 2.
Dee Macaluso stars in Billion Dollar Baby.
Dee Macaluso stars in Billion Dollar Baby. Photo by Scott Peterson

Jere Hodgin, artistic director of Idaho Repertory Theatre and professor at the University of Idaho, directs the piece about "obsessive parenting" — a "generational look at the new rules of childrearing."

SLAC regular Dee Macaluso is stage-center as a grandmother. The play is billed as "a fascinating and funny treatise on parents and parents of parents in the 21st century."

Billion Dollar Baby shows "a few days in the life of Polly Parchment, theatre writer for a local newspaper and grandmother to her son's worshipped three-year-old daughter, Bernie," who, "from her parents' point of view, is the future of the human race…"

Polly is currently working on a piece about one-person plays, "but it must take a backseat to the epiphanal event of Bernie turning four."

According to production notes, the play asks: Do we go too far in trying to keep our children safe and smart and "successful"? And, are we giving away part of their humanity from overprotection and insularity? Previews played Nov. 7-8. This is the fifth play by Julie Jensen that Jere Hodgin has directed. The design team is SLAC producing director and resident designer Keven Myhre (set), James M. Craig (lights), K. L. Alberts (costume) and Cynthia L. Kehr Rees (sound). Sarah Mohr is the production stage manager.

Macaluso appeared in SLAC's Ice Glen, Saturday's Voyeur 2006 and Memory of Water. Annette Wright is the understudy for Billion Dollar Baby.

The play was given a workshop production by Idaho Repertory Theatre and University of Idaho in Moscow, ID, February 2007, directed by Jere Hodgin. It starred Patty Duke. It was also given a staged reading at the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis, MN, in April 2007.

Jensen was raised in Beaver, UT. She has a Ph.D. in theatre from Wayne State University in Detroit, and has taught playwriting at seven different colleges and universities. She worked as a writer in Hollywood for five years and until recently directed the graduate playwriting program at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Billion Dollar Baby is the sixth full-length play of Jensen's to be produced by SLAC. Others include White Money, Last Lists of My Mad Mother, Two-Headed, Wait! and Dust Eaters.

This is the fifth play by Jensen to be directed by Jere Hodgin, although his first at SLAC. Jensen is the recipient of the Kennedy Center Award for New American Plays for White Money, the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work for The Lost Vegas Series, and the L.A. Weekly Award for Best New Play for Two-Headed.

Salt Lake Acting Company is at 168 West 500 North, Salt Lake City, UT. For more information visit www.saltlakeactingcompany.org.

Dee Macaluso in Julie Jensen's <i>Billion Dollar Baby</i>.
Dee Macaluso in Julie Jensen's Billion Dollar Baby. Photo by Scott Peterson