So, let me give you a little background on the area I live in. The region is Southwest Virginia. Roanoke is the Big City. It's nick-name is "The Star City." It also has a gigantic neon star beacon perched atop the highest "mount" in town. I must say, it's pretty cool. Now, as to which came first, the actual star or the town's nick-name; I know not. I suppose I should look it up. I've spent a good fifth of my life here now (geez Louise). I live in a mid-size town called "Vinton" that borders Roanoke to the east. Vinton recently came up with a catchy slogan for itself: "It's All In Vinton!"
Now, I would think that when most people think about this region, they probably think of the old "Appalchian Emergency Room" sketches from SNL. And I can't say that that element does not exist here. To get to my house, I have to pass one of the sketchiest trailer parks on the planet. One time, we had a party and one of the guests left and then returned, in tears. She had taken a wrong turn into the trailer park and I guess she feared for her life. Not to trailer-shame; but that is a true story. However, she was a bit on the dramatic side. She was an actress. Very Method. Maybe she was trying to remember it if she was ever in a scene where she was trapped in a trailer park. I kid: she was a terrific actress.
Now, conversely, this area offers a lot of high end education. Virginia Tech is 45 minutes away. University of Virginia is a couple of hours north. In Roanoke itself you've got Hollins University, which is home to a highly regarded play writing program. Roanoke College. Radford University and so on. Why are so many prestigious colleges out in the middle of Podunk U.S.A.? I've never understood this phenomenon. Another phenomenon around here is the abandoned, dilapidated house/gas station/barn/whatever.
So, Smith Mountain Lake was created in the 1960's to provide power for the Smith Mountain Lake Dam, which generates electricity: your basic hydroelectric enterprise (although it's not basic, but you can look all that up at your leisure). There's also an underwater "ghost-town," supposedly, called Monroe. Did it exist? Is it down there at the bottom of the lake? No one can either confirm or deny. Besides being a power source, SML lake has become a thriving lakeside community and resorty-summer-vacationy home type place. Quite wealthy, white and upper-middle class. There are lots of year-round residents. One of SML's claims-to-fame is that the movie What About Bob? was filmed there. It starred Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss. Released in 1991, the movie was a hit. I've never seen it. And I had no idea Uncle Walt made it. Everything's connected...
Anyways...we're finally at Smith Mountain Lake, home of the "Smith Mountain Lake Players" (news to me too!) and how your boy got cast in a Neurotic New Yorker comedy in rural Virginia.
So, I have this actor friend, Wendy. We've worked together on several occasions, the last being a somewhat uneven production of Private Lives. In that, she played my ex-wife. Now she's going to be playing my wife in Rumors. Wendy recommended me to a lady named Nancy who is helming the production of Rumors for the Smith Mountain Lake Players (SMLP). SMLP are not really a community theater, as they don't actually have a playhouse or a season. For example, this production of Rumors is going to be staged at the "4-H Center." I know as much about 4-H as Neil Simon probably did. I know it has to do with farming, youth, blue-berry pies and blue-ribbon chickens. I mean, that's what my mind conjures up. I'll have to do some more research. I don't think there's an official affiliation. I think SMLP are just using the facilities. Also, the play is opening months from now and will only be up for one weekend. Which is kind of strange. But fine with me. After opening night, a show almost always turns into a job. You actors know what I mean. It's still fun; but it's also work. Even though you're not getting paid...except in applause (uh-huh).
So, I met Nancy at her lovely lakeside house up at the lake, by its side. I read for her and we had a nice conversation and then she cast me. So, a recent email informs me that our first read-through will be in May. Also, we'll be rehearsing in the basement of someone I've yet to meet. It must be a pretty big basement: this show has a cast of ten! I do know the basement is in the home of another lakeside resident not far from Nancy's lakeside home. Oh, did I mention this was by the lake? Here's the lake:
So, more to come later in May.
Oh, btw...speaking of 4-20...I (and everyone in Virginia) are legally allowed to grow four marijuana plants for personal use. I haven't smoked pot since the 80's; but as I'm entitled to these plants, I figure, why not? So, yours truly is going to try his hand at a mini-marijuana farm. I'll fill you in on that too!