The cornbelt comedy by Tim Clue and Spike Manton will be directed by Anthony Caselli, and follows an Equity waiver run in the Chicago area earlier this year. In an April-May 2003 run in Naperville, IL, the play had an original score by Chicago folk artists Sons of the Never Wrong.
As previously reported by Playbill On-Line, Clue and Manton's Chicago Sitcom Production Company created and produced the piece, billed as an "hilarious, sentimental and sometimes irreverent journey through the heartland."
In the play, a writer returns to his childhood home in Des Moines, Iowa, and decides to take his recently-deceased father's ashes to the geographical center of the heartland. Along the way he attempts to re-visit many of the distinctive destinations featured in his father's family trips and vacations. The "kind, weird, charming, funny, irritating and dangerous people he meets along the way help him to relive, regret and rejoice the childhood he spent trapped in the back seat of a station wagon somewhere off Interstate 80," according to the original production notes.
Tim Clue directed in Illinois and Kathryn Lake musical directs. The cast included Dana Black, Brad Mott, Jeremy Seymour, Jeff Solberg and Barb Weingard.
The play now gets a boost from one of Michigan's most high-profile Equity troupes, the Purple Rose, founded in rural Chelsea by hometown boy Jeff Daniels, the stage and screen actor and playwright. For the past 11 years the theatre has been devoted to Midwestern voices. Leaving Iowa plays Jan. 22-March 13, 2004, following the season-opener, The Fabulous Farkleberrys, a collection of short comedies by Daniels, Sept. 25-Nov. 30.
As previously reported by Playbill On-Line, Mitch Albom, the Detroit Free Press sports writer whose best-selling memoir, "Tuesdays With Morrie," was made into a TV film and an Off-Broadway play, will see the world premiere of his new stage comedy, Duck Hunter Shoots Angel, in 2004.
Albom co-adapted Tuesdays With Morrie for the stage with Jeffrey Hatcher, but is now flying solo as a playwright. The new play will have its premiere in Chelsea, Michigan, 60 miles west of Detroit, by the Purple Rose Theatre Company. The Equity troupe was founded by actor Jeff Daniels in his hometown and has been the birthplace for a number of works by Daniels and others. Purple Rose commissioned the world premieres of Lanford Wilson's Rain Dance and Book of Days.
Purple Rose artistic director Guy Sanville will direct the Albom play, which is described this way: "From the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple to the backwater swamps of Alabama, this world premiere follows a big city tabloid journalist on the trail of an out-of-this-world tale. Bat Boy, Elvis and Half Man/Half Alligator are nothing compared to the zany people in this new play from the award-winning Detroit Free Press columnist and celebrated author of 'Tuesdays with Morrie.'"
Performances play June 24-Aug. 28, 2004. Given the high-profile name of Albom, scouts and producers from outside Michigan are sure to inquire about Duck Hunter.
The 2003-04 Purple Rose season will open with the world premiere of a collection of short comedies, The Fabulous Farkleberrys, by Jeff Daniels. Sanville will direct.
The acting company will include Sandra Birch, Ryan Carlson, Randall Godwin, Terry Heck and Tom Whalen. Performances run Sept. 25-Nov. 30.
PRTC stages the Michigan premiere of The Underpants, the farce by Carl Sternheim as adapted by Steve Martin. Anthony Caselli will direct.
Previously seen in New York in a staging by Classic Stage Company, the play is described thus: "When a government clerk's young wife accidentally drops her unmentionables at the King's parade, he is totally unprepared when she becomes an instant celebrity. You won't believe how fast people get 'wild and crazy' after one tiny glimpse of underpants." Performances play April 1 June 5, 2004.
For information about Purple Rose Theatre Company, visit www.purplerosetheatre.org.