LOS ANGELES -- As part of an exclusive, first-look deal with Showtime Networks, the Echo Theatre Company is producing the world premiere of Rick Cleveland's dark comedy Home Grown at the Ventura Court Theatre Sat. March 7 at 8 PM.
Showtime Networks has underwritten the production with a grant of $25,000. The arrangement gives Echo total autonomy in choosing which plays it will produce under this one-year agreement.
"Unlike the first-look deals other local theatre groups have made with television and theatre companies, Echo has the right to determine which scripts will be submitted to Showtime," said Echo's artistic director Chris Fields, who negotiated the deal when the cable outfit became interested in a previous production, Bedfellows . "The deal to turn that play into a movie eventually fell through, but it did lead to what we hope will be a long-term relationship with Showtime."
Home Grown introduces us to the Ohio Heartland, "a place where agricultural wetdreams collide with steel plates, glaucoma, wartime delusions, cancer, multiple scientists and strange radio signals, and the God-fearing people who experience them," said a company spokesperson. "There we meet the ailing and debt-ridden Hockers, an out-of-work family who, on the evening of hocking the last of their farm equipment, receive an 11th-hour visit from cousin Don, a pot-grower from California...who convinces his kin to experiment with the magic of growing marijuana in order to save their farm."
Home Grown will be directed by Paul McCrane (who doubles by day as a regular on NBC- TV's top-rated "ER." The play is double-cast and features Guy Boyd, Patience Cleveland, Brian Cousins, Wayne Duvall, Karen S. Gregan, Butch Hammett, Robert Kerbeck, Paul Kuhlman, Carol Locatell, Jeremy Maxwell, Heidi Swedberg, Shannon Welles and Victor Raider-Wexler. Schedule is Thurs.-Sat. at 8 PM; Sun. at 7 PM through April 5. The Ventura Court Theatre is at 12417 Ventura Court, Studio City. Tix are $15. Call (213) 660-8587. -- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent