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Richmond Hill Community Theatre presents world premiere of ‘Growing’

  • Emily McMullan plays Jennifer in Richmond Hill Community Theatre’s world premiere of “Growing.” (Junebug Photography)
 

Richmond Hill Community Theatre presents world premiere of ‘Growing’

21 Feb 2017

It’s not every day that a community theater group gets to do a world premiere production.

Richmond Hill Community Theatre will present the world premiere of “Growing,” which opens Feb. 24 and runs for two weekends. Director Ashlee Waldron Farris is president of the theater group.

“The main premise is that two people meet in a bar and have a one-night stand,” Farris says. “It’s not a typical thing for either one of them.

“Jennifer decides she’s never done this sort of thing and is never going to do it again, that it’s probably a bad mistake. She met this guy Daniel, had a good time, and took him back to her place. She would like to forget it and move along.”

But Daniel doesn’t agree.

“He’s interested and wants to keep seeing her,” Farris says. “But he respects her wishes and decides to go ahead and step out of her life.

“This guy is a nice guy who is the chef for the Atlanta Braves. He meets her sister and best friend.

“Her best friend, Alex, is a huge Braves fan,” Farris says. “Daniel ends up trading information with Alex and unbeknownst to Jennifer, they become friends.”

One month later, Jennifer learns she’s pregnant. She and Daniel begin the journey to becoming a family.

“There are nine scenes in the show,” Farris says. “Each comprises one month in the life of Daniel and Jennifer.”

Together, the couple goes through morning sickness, deciding what the child’s name should be, a baby shower, putting the crib together and all the other details that expectant couples face.

“Daniel is now in her life,” Farris says. “They’re not quite sure how they got here, but here they are.

“He decides to ask her to marry him. The two of them are coming to know each other.

“Each month deals with what’s going on in that particular time of their lives,” Farris says. “It’s almost like a window into their lives and how they become a family.”

The play’s tagline is: “Every family has to start somewhere.”

“The author, Steve Mason, is an Army spouse,” Farris says. “His wife is in the Army. He was in the Army but got out a long time ago.

“When he found out they were coming here, he looked around for small community theaters. He decided to submit this show to us.

“He had written it for a one-act play contest,” Farris says. “It’s based on his experiences with friends and family.”

A pregnant friend asked Mason to write a one-act play for her and he did. “Growing” soon followed. When it came time for the Richmond Hill Community Theatre to schedule a new season, “Growing” made the cut.

“We had 11 submissions and we only chose four,” Farris says. “… We wanted do something a little different and something that hadn’t been seen before. We were excited that Steve chose us as the very first people to ever stage this show.”

The production will be presented in memory of Dawn Berry, who died from a brain aneurysm in May 2016 at the age of 53. A former president of Richmond Hill Community Theatre, she both acted in and directed many productions.

“We wanted to do this in her honor,” Farris says. “We decided to stage her choices.”

The cast features Emily McMullan as Jennifer.

“This is the very first show she’s ever done with us,” Farris says. “She says it’s the first show she’s done since college.

“She’s very good. We wish she’ll continue to work with us.”

Steve Mason, the playwright of “Growing,” plays Daniel.

“He didn’t really want to take the role, but every other man we knew was busy,” Farris says with a laugh. “He has plenty of experience as an actor.”

Alex, Jennifer’s best friend, is played by Allen Edwards.

“He is a local who has his own production company, Vallen Productions,” Farris says. “He does student films and other films and is also a computer tech guy. He teaches dance in Richmond Hill.”

Jennifer’s sister Jill is played by Catherine Simmons.

“She is a 20-year-old Armstrong student,” Farris says. “She’s been in many different productions for the Savannah Children’s Theatre and was in our production of ‘Eurydice.’ She is probably going to work more with our company.”

Daniel’s mother, Mrs. Madison, is played by Leigh Payne.

“She is an Army spouse,” Farris says. “She hasn’t been on stage in more than 20 years. It’s almost like starting over for her.”

While Farris does both directing and acting, she loves acting the most.

“The reason for that is because I’m an actor at heart,” she says. “I think being an actor makes me a better director. I like the spotlight. Tell me what actor doesn’t.”

Farris wants people to come to the play to help support arts in the Richmond Hill area.

“We don’t have a building in Richmond Hill, so there’s not a building we can direct people to. We depend on the largesse of the community.

“This one is being staged in the Life Moves Dance Studio,” Farris says. “We have a partnership with owner Teresa Merritt. It’s nice to have someplace where we do not have some of the usual worries we do.”

Most times, the productions are held in the John W. Stevens Wetlands Education Center at the J.F. Gregory Recreational Park.

“We have to rent that and have only a week until the show opens,” Farris says. “We have a modular stage we have to get out of storage, put it together, build the set in one day so the cast can come in and rehearse.

“Teresa is letting us use her largest dance studio. We’ve been able to practice and build the set early and leave it up.

“We usually do only one weekend of shows,” Farris says. “She’s allowing us to do two weekends of shows.”

The theme of the production is family, and appropriately, child care is available.

“I’m pleased to be presenting this show,” Farris says. “It’s a good opportunity for us, and a good opportunity to showcase a beginning writer’s work.”

IF YOU GO

What: Richmond Hill Community Theatre presents “Growing”

When: 8 p.m. Feb. 24-25 and March 3-4; 3 p.m. Feb. 26 and March 5

Where: Life Moves Dance Studio, 11260 Ford Ave., Richmond Hill

Cost: $10 or $8 senior/student/military

Info: 912-756-8483, eventbrite.com

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