By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Sept. 1 — Thomas thought it would be a good summer job, helping the U.S. Census Bureau takes its tally of folks up in the hills. But when he becomes a stranger lost in those hills, he also becomes a target for Bogey, who wants to pawn off one of his daughters on a fella who comes from money.
Bogey only wants what’s best for his daughters — and his moonshine business. He’s unsure of this stranger roaming around in the hills at first, until he learns that the stranger comes from a wealthy family. The sheriff keeps nosing around, while Bogey’s friends — Virgil, Vernon, Randall and Shorty — offer to help Bogey out.
There’s a lot going on in this original comedy of love and life in the hills penned by Luray playwright Kevin Kite. While participating as a writer in the Performing Arts of Luray’s 24-hour Theater and a workshop at Trackside Theater, this is Kite’s first original script for a two-act show. The play is designed to entertain and hopefully, to generate a lot of smiles and laughter for a live audience that’s been absent way too long.
“It’s so super exciting to be able to do live theater again and make people laugh…everyone in the production is excited,” said director Lisa Haggard Aleshire. “When everyone comes into rehearsal, they are smiling…they are so happy.”
Trackside Theater presents “Sense and Since-A-Hillbilly” the next two weekends, with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 3-4 and Sept. 10-11, and Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. on Sept. 5 and Sept. 12.
Trackside’s last full production, “Steel Magnolias”, was performed in March 2020. The small community theater held a short run of “Comedy Tonight Phase III” sketches last August, but the stage has remained silent in 2021 — until now. About 15 actors will perform in the upcoming production.
“We have a lot of new faces that will be on stage this time around,” said Aleshire, noting that the small community theater draws actors from across the region. “We’re not just Luray or Page County anymore; we’ve gone out further and people want to act on our little stage, and that makes me feel good.”
Cast members have been able to stay healthy during the ongoing pandemic, but those who attend the production over the next two weekends will be asked to wear masks will inside the small theater. Admission will be $10 for adults and $5 for students, either at the door or tickets may be purchased in advance online at TracksideTheater.org
Kite, a three-year member of the Trackside Theater Board of Directors, is saving the organization a lot of expense by penning the original comedy. Aleshire says the non-profit paid $600 for the rights to perform “Steel Magnolias”, typically $100 per performance. Musicals are even more expensive. The royalties, along with costumes, sets, advertising/promotion and general bills, can stress the group’s finances.
“We had to pay electricity and monthly bills even when there was no money coming in for the last year,” Aleshire said. “People have sometimes looked at me funny when we charge $15 for admission to a small, local community theater…but it takes a lot to put on these productions and keep the organization going.”
“And we feel, to have live theater, right in your face, is worth it.”
The director adds that the admission to the upcoming shows will be less than previous performances because there are no royalties to pay out. She also notes the appreciation of the non-profit performing arts group for its two main sources of income — ticket sales and donations.
“We appreciate the community support,” Aleshire said. “Without community support, we couldn’t put on these productions.”
“Sense and Since-A-Hillbilly” opens Friday night, Sept. 3, for the first of six performances.
Trackside Theater is located off East Main Street in Luray across from the “pink” Page Theaters.
Visit them online at TracksideTheater.org