Wetumpka Depot Players part of ‘Hollywood, Nebraska’ ‘rolling world premiere’

Elizabeth Howell and Dean Biasucci in the Wyoming workshop of “Hollywood, Nebraska.”

“Hollywood” is coming to Wetumpka.

The Wetumpka Depot Players will present Kenneth Jones’ “Hollywood, Nebraska” in 2023 as part of the play’s “rolling world premiere.”

The Wetumpka theater is one of three companies gearing up for productions of the play, the latest from the playwright of “Alabama Story.”

In “Hollywood, Nebraska,” two actresses are returning to their hometown – one from Los Angeles to take care of her ailing mother, another from New York to bury her father. The two women wrestle with the past in the comedy.

The show has had a full workshop production at Wyoming Theatre Festival, but it will have world premieres on concurrent 2022-2023 seasons in Wetumpka; Lamb Arts Regional Theatre in Sioux City, Iowa; and Oak Ridge Playhouse in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

“I’m thrilled to see an expanded launch and life for my valentine to showbiz personalities, the Midwest and the urge to be creative,” Jones said. “’Hollywood, Nebraska’ is comfort food with a salty edge — and it even has a few musical surprises embedded in it.”

Kristy Meanor, artistic director of the Wetumpka Depot Players, jumped at the chance to be a part of the rolling premiere.

“I already knew of Kenneth’s work,” she said. “In fact, the last play I saw before the pandemic stopped theater in its tracks was the Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s gorgeous production of Kenneth’s ‘Alabama Story.’ I was in the middle of reading and planning for our 43rd season, and the arrival of ‘Hollywood, Nebraska’ fit in perfectly with the theme of our 2023 season.” That season will be announced later, but he theme is “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” Meanor said.

Jones says the world premieres will allow him to hone “Hollywood, Nebraska” even further.

“I’m honored that companies are taking a risk on an unpublished play — I’m lucky to get to grow the script through conversations with directors in rehearsals for these three productions,” he said. “I think the universal idea of ‘coming home’ is one of the reasons why the companies embraced the play. After the worst days of the pandemic, audiences are coming home to theaters again. And they want comfort and nourishment and hope.”

Meanor said the play should be a crowd-pleaser.

“This is a warm play that is relatable to anyone who has been thrust into the role of caregiver for an aging parent,” she said. “Kenneth handles that with heart and humor. I have no doubt our audiences will be charmed by the additional themes of our passion and drive to be creative and yearning for something bigger yet feeling the pull to return to small-town roots.”

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