GLT to present 2 connected one-act plays

"Lone Star” and “Laundry & Bourbon,” two linked one-act plays by James McClure, will be doing a Texas two-step at the Greenwood Little Theatre, starting Thursday night.

These dark comedies center on two trios of everyday people: Elizabeth, Hattie and Amy Lee, sipping bourbon, folding laundry and gabbing in Elizabeth’s small-town Texas backyard; and Roy, Ray and Cletus, three guys guzzling Lone Star beer out behind Angel’s dive bar.

The year is 1975, and Roy has just returned home from Vietnam, his war fires still burning.

Meanwhile, his wife, Elizabeth, worries about her hard-living, hard-drinking husband and anxiously awaits the sight of his prized 1959 pink Thunderbird rolling home.

Greenwood Little Theatre stalwart David Dallas directs the women, and Becky Palmer directs the men in these companion pieces that have become standards in community theaters around the country, especially in the West.

“Cam Abel, An-dy Dan-iels and I did ‘Lone Star’ over in Indianola almost two years ago,” Dallas said. “This is kind of a revival. It was well-received, and people in Greenwood asked us to do it here.”

The plays originated when McClure, who died in 2011, was studying at the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in California alongside actor Powers Boothe, also now deceased, who played the original Roy.

McClure was perhaps best-known for his play “The Day They Shot John Lennon,” but the  one-two punch of “Lone Star” and “Laundry & Bourbon” has made these two pieces his most frequently staged works.

Dallas, Daniels and Abel reignite “Lone Star” on the Greenwood Little Theatre stage as macho Roy; his sweet and not-too-bright brother, Ray; and Cletus, Amy Lee’s clueless sugar daddy of a husband.

It’s all for laughs, but precariously balanced on an unsteady foundation of the shifting sands of home, whom we love and why we stick with them.

Palmer said she was drawn to the plays because, to her, “it’s just real life.

“Guys talk and girls talk, and they try and work through their problems.”

Roy, she said, suffers from a familiar human problem, the disorientation of coming back home when things have changed, including oneself.

Greenwood audiences should easily connect with the heat of a Texas summer afternoon and the bonds of friendship enjoyed, stretched and even abused.

“I think it will be right up everybody’s alley,” Dallas said. “It’s the kind of humor I think most everybody enjoys. We get to laugh at relationships and the regrets we all have.”

Dallas said he had other actresses in mind for “Laundry & Bourbon,” but when auditions rolled around and Donna Spell, Freda MacIntosh and Liza Jones emerged as Elizabeth, Hattie and Amy Lee, he was pleasantly surprised.

“You have an idea what you want as a director, and these three ladies are better than I could possibly have imagined.”

Jones, who hasn’t acted since high school, makes her Greenwood Little Theatre debut in the role of Amy Lee, a gossipy socialite who spills all when she drinks a little too much bourbon.

Both MacIntosh and Spell have been in GLT productions before, though Spell’s performances have been musical in the past.

As Elizabeth and Hattie, the two exemplify the comforts of a friendship built on a lifetime of shared experience.

The two plays will be bridged by an intermission at which, Dallas said, it’s possible Lone Star beer will be served.

The language, especially in “Lone Star,” can be salty, and both plays are adult-themed, though Dallas said “the language is more PG than R.”

“I hope there’s a big turnout,” Dallas said. “I feel like there’ll be a lot of fun and laughter, all night long.”

Alicia Dallas