The Cast List

 

The Theatre Guild is offering a special Valentine’s gift in February as they open for their 83rd season with the original comedy “The Cast List”, an award-winning show from Knoxville playwright Gayle Greene.

“The Cast List” is being performed Feb. 10-18 as a Valentine’s Weekend Dinner Theatre for all evening performances. Saturday matinees will be without a dinner and at regular ticket prices.

“The Cast List takes audiences backstage on a hilarious journey through what all could and does happen when preparing a live theatrical show. The story follows a small theatrical company’s production of Shakespeare’s tragic romance “Romeo and Juliet” when the two lists of who to cast and who NOT to cast get confused, and suddenly two casts are competing for parts in the same show.

Greene’s comedy premiered in March 2016, produced by Knoxville’s Tennessee Stage Company., and will be produced in April in Nashville by Lakewood Theatre Company as part a winner of their Tennessee Playwrights Festival. “We are delighted to promote and support original works each season of local artists,” said Guild Artistic Director Joe Powell. “We fell in love with this comedy the first time we read it and knew we had to do it. Also, we are very excited that Gayle will join us on the Friday night performances to appear in a panel discussion with the cast and audience, to talk about this production and about playwriting too.”Greene is a California native, who says she was bitten by the theatre bug while in high school. Asked about the origins of “The Cast List”, she said “Writing it was really a labor of love for me. As an actor myself, I’ve always enjoyed the rehearsal process as much as the actual performances. There’s a lot of drama going on backstage that the audience never gets to see. So, I wrote it for people that have never been “in” a show to give them a glimpse of the process from auditions through opening night. But I wrote it for actors too. I think that every actor will see themselves (or a fellow thespian) in at least one of the characters in the play.  I hate to admit it but I’m probably a composite of all of the women, there’s a little bit of me in each of them!!”

 

As for the Guild, board member Daniel Munson knew of Gayle’s work in Knoxville’s acting scene and suggested the Guild look at her play. Greene says she’s been aware of the Guild for many years, because “my husband, Rick Greene, is from Morristown.  We came to Morristown often when his parents Worley and Virginia Greene, were still alive. I always thought how lucky the community was to have its own theatre company, not every community has that!”

Next up for her? A real change of pace, a serious drama. “My newest full-length play When Blackbirds Sing will be a table reading this year at several public libraries in Knoxville this February, as part of Tennessee Stage Company’s New Play Festival. (for more info visit tennesseestage.com) This play is completely different from The Cast List. It’s a drama about a woman serving a life sentence in prison for murder. I resisted writing it for months because it’s a dark subject, but there’s a lot of hope in the story, even if it doesn’t have a happy ending.”

“The Cast List”  includes Kellie Ward as Paula, the much put upon director of the show; James Owen as Kim, the Stage Manager who has to help manage Paula and the cast; Ashlee Garcia plays Stella, a first-time performer who knows her destiny is to be a star (and in real life, this is Ashlee’s first time on stage); Todd Helm plays Calvin, a longtime stagehand who is determined to be the best Romeo ever; Mitzi Akins is Marcia, who is the President of the theatrical company putting on the show and she wants to be Juliet, no matter that her days as a teenager really ended some decades ago; Tyler McDaniel and Starla Lane as the theatre company’s go-to actors, Nick and Amber– if they don’t quit the production first. Lee Akins appears as Preston, the head of the regional theatre organization.

Dinner for this special event is being catered by Southern Traditions Catering and includes a salad, lemon pepper chicken breast, fresh steamed asparagus seasoned and sprinkled with parmesan, Delmonico potatoes, choice of dessert and beverage. Wine will be available by the glass.

Tickets are $28 per person, and a table of six can be reserved for $160. Performances are at the VFW Auditorium on Feb. 10, 11, 17 and 18 with dinner at 7 pm and the show begins at 8 pm. There will be 2 pm matinees on Feb. 11 and 18 without dinner and at regular ticket prices of $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and $10 for students. For reservations or more information, please contact the Guild at 423-586-9260.