Kristy Meanor, Doug Segrest back with new play about Hollywood

Kristy Meanor and Doug Segrest.

When “Hooray for Harry Wood” opens on July 11 at the Wetumpka Depot, it will mark the third play by Doug Segrest and Kristi Meanor, a collaboration that began in 2019 with an adaption of Segrest’s novel, “A Storm Came Up.”

That book, about racial tensions in Alabama in 1963, came out in 2011, and eight years later, Segrest got a phone call from Meanor, artistic director for the Wetumpka Depot Players.

“Out of the blue, Kristy called and said, ‘I loved your book and would love to talk to you about making this into a play,’” recalls Segrest, a longtime sportswriter who now works for Regions Bank. “My first thought was that she was crazy, but we talked, and she said come down and see ‘Big River.’ I took my son, and we were blown away. We got serious after that. She knocked out the first act, and from that point on, it was a collaboration.”

The pandemic intervened and delayed the process, but “A Storm Came Up” premiered in 2022.

“It landed so well with our audiences,” Meanor says. The play also did well in new play festivals.

A new work commissioned by the Freedom Rides Museum followed, and now, “Hooray for Harry Wood” runs July 11-27 at the Depot.

Scott Page and Jan Roeten are among the stars of “Hooray for Harry Wood.”

A screwball comedy, “Hooray for Harry Wood” is set in post-World War II Hollywood, where former leading man Harry Wood is now living in the guest house of his former estate and faces eviction, along with three friends.

It’s a play borne out of Segrest’s love of classic movies.

“When I was in high school, they’d show the Braves games on TBS, an then they’d reshow them at midnight,” he says. “They’d fill in with a classic movie or two. I had to wait until midnight to see how the Braves did, so I was watching ‘Key Largo,’ ‘Casablanca,’ things like that.”

During the pandemic, he passed that love on to Meanor.

“He started recommending old films, and we started comparing notes,” she says. “The love of classic cinema got me through the pandemic.”

Segrest loved the movies, but he also loved the stories behind the actors who starred in them, and that’s where “Harry Wood” comes from.

Meanor is directing the play, which features Scott Page in the title role and also stars Jan Roeten, Brad Sinclair, Jenifer Hollett, Sarah Worley, Eric Ardvison and Sydney Burdette.

The transition from drama to comedy went smoothly for the writers.

“This was easy, but it was easy because of the characters we developed and the situations we put them in,” Segrest says. “The humor comes out of what’s going on and the situations they’re in.”

Segrest and Meanor are already at the drawing boards again, working on another comedy, “kind of a ‘30s radio show,” according to Segrest.

And the hope is that “Hooray for Harry Wood” will be produced by other theaters.

“We’d like to produce it elsewhere,” Segrest says. “I think it’s marketable.”

“Hooray for Harry Wood,” presented by the Wetumpka Depot Players July 11-27.

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