The Shelterbelt Theatre’s latest production entitled Abby in the Summer by A.P. Andrews is going into its final two weekends. Director Beth Thompson took some time to answer some questions about the production.
How did Shelterbelt come across this play?
(Former Artistic Director) Ellen Struve found A.P. Andrews online. He is a NY based playwright who grew up in Superior Nebraska. He has written what he calls the “Nebraska Cycles” which consists of 10 plays that all take place in the fictional small town of Jaconda, NE. I was intrigued by how much A.P. loves Nebraska…I also saw an opportunity to build a strong relationship with a young playwright, who is making a name for himself at Seven Devils and Playwrights Horizons…the idea of continuing the cycle at the Shelterbelt is intriguing to me!
What was the biggest challenge during the rehearsal process?
The biggest challenge was stepping into a role myself. My original actress playing the role of Rhonda needed to leave the production for personal reasons about 5 weeks into the rehearsal process. The role is small but pivotal. At the end of the day, I decided that I would rather spend the last few weeks getting the rest of my cast over the last few humps and take the role myself than spend the rest of the time trying to catch a new person up. For the last two weeks of rehearsal I had various board members and friends come in and watch to give notes on the sections I had to miss while acting. In the end I believe that it was the right decision and am so blessed to have the help I do!
How have audiences reacted to the show so far? What are your hopes for the final two weeks of performances?
This story is a common one and the relationships between these characters exist for all of us so I believe that people are touched by a story that hits so close to home. We begin by setting up near stereotypes and then spend the rest of the play tearing them down to reveal who these people really are…it’s a human story, told very close to home. Abby is a sweet story but also a very real story with a crazy cast of characters that you will not soon forget!
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