Giving birth to a new theater venue is tough enough, but that’s just the first step. You then have to get an audience.
When Rich and Laurie McCoy first dreamed the dream that would become Jacksonville’s Playhouse on the Square, there were some interesting obstacles to overcome. “It looked more like a pet store than a theater. In fact, it was a pet store, so we went to work,” said Rich McCoy. The task of transforming the space on the east side of the Jacksonville square began as the spaces were rearranged, stage lighting installed, gallons of paint applied, and after a few months and a good deal of sweat, the theater opened in May of 2013 with Ken Bradbury’s newest play, “Memories of Mama, Thinking of Dad.” Now, some 40 productions and 300 actors later, McCoy has asked Bradbury to bring back this production on October 7, 8 and 9.
“I remember when we first did the show,” said Bradbury. “The audience seats were newly borrowed, we had almost enough lights, and the smell of fresh paint was still in the air of the Playhouse.” The configuration of the McCoy’s theater was a bit different in the early days. “Ken wanted us to move the stage for his production of ‘Genesis’ and we’ve kept it that way,” said McCoy. “We now have a more interesting, three-quarter round arrangement and it works beautifully.”
The October performance will feature many of the original cast members in a group that includes: Jim and Brenda Yale, Chuck McCue, Brad Barnes, Sylvia Burke, Jodi Heitbrink, Don and Linda Schneider, Stephanie Soltermann, Cathy Doyle and Bradbury. “It’s nice to bring so many of the original cast back,” said Bradbury. “There’s something about time that allows you to grow into a role.”
“Memories of Mama, Thinking of Dad,” is a collection of 10 different stories woven into what Bradbury calls, “A quilt of love.” Each actor tells a different story of his or her mother or father, and all of the characters are based on people whom the playwright has known. “In fact,” said Bradbury, “I think they’re people we’ve all known.” Rich McCoy adds, “It’s a special piece of theater, not only because of Ken’s script, but it’s also a sort-of anniversary for our theater.”