Forest Moon Theater Company to present comedy/drama in September.
By David Leone
WAKE FOREST — Forest Moon Theater Company has selected the cast for its next play, Helium, which will be presented at the town’s new Renaissance Centre Sept. 19-27.
The cast consists of Lisa Binon as Ruth; Sean Chandler, Johnny; Gilly Conklin, Gramms; Josh Kellum, Ethan; Marjorie Morgan, Alice; and Addison Selna as Josh.
Auditions were held July 16-17 in a Renaissance Centre classroom, drawing more than a few performers with prior experience, said Bob Baird, the play’s director and co-founder of the budding community theater.
“Most, if not all, would have been good in a part. A number were excellent,” he said. “We had a lot of talent at the auditions and it did not make the final decisions easy.”
Written by Charleston, S.C., playwright Julian Wiles, Helium centers around Gramms, an 80-year-old woman in the beginning stages of dementia.
“It’s about people in an everyday situation who struggle to find their way,” said Baird. “In the process there is humor. It doesn’t belittle the suffering from dementia, instead it softens it a bit. In this there’s a lot of humor but no jokes.”
The play jumps back and forth in time with Gramms’ recollections, which creates some set challenges for Forest Moon.
A beach setting, for instance, requires the procurement of an old wooden rowboat and the type of wooden cable spools people once used for tables.
“They’re hard to find now — that’s something we’ll have to build if we can’t find it,” said Baird.
They’ll also need volunteers familiar with painting sets or sculpting scenery from Styrofoam. And they’re on the hunt for a costumes manager.
Other crew roles have been filled with familiar faces.
Betsy Richards is the stage manager and Rose Davis has taken on assistant director.
Richards made her acting debut in Academia Nuts, Forest Moon’s first performance in March of 2013. She also played a small role as a maid in the company’s comedy Harvey last fall. Acting was on the 56-year-old cancer survivor’s bucket list.
The assistant director, Davis, is a rising junior at Franklin Academy High School. In March of this year, she played Coot Cat, an aged and hairball-stricken feline in Curiosity Cat, Forest Moon’s first youth production.
Davis has acted in school plays and musicals including Cinderella this spring, as well as for the John Casablancas talent agency.
“Rose was someone who stepped forward and said ‘This is what I want to do,’” said Baird. “She’s got a good eye and she has experience both acting and working backstage. She was one of my favorite characters in Curiosity Cat.”
As in the past, the community theater will need financial sponsors to help pay for set pieces and the Renaissance rental fees, as well as other items.
One ongoing need is a place to store, paint and test set equipment, much of which, in past performances, has been built in the garage of a crew member.
Rehearsals begin Sunday, and Baird will have the task of molding the actors to the vision of the play.
“I’ve been looking forward to this — this is exactly the type of play I enjoy directing,” he said. “Walking that line between comedy and drama requires you be very in tune with the playwright’s intent.”
“It’s a challenge and I love a challenge.”
Overall, interest in the town’s first community theater has piqued. And Forest Moon’s board of directors hopes to keep it that way.
“There’s a lot of momentum we’ve built up,” Baird added. “The key is to keep it going and move forward.”
For more information, see forestmoontheater.org.