By JOE SMITH
Later this month, Jonesborough Repertory Theatre will write a new chapter in the history books of American plays.
On Friday, Oct. 26, the curtain rises for the world premiere of the comedy The Wild Women of Winedale, written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten — three writers who need no introduction to the theatre scene.
Since 2007, patrons have been flocking to regional theaters — from Abington to Johnson City to Asheville to Mountain City — to see one of the Jones Hope Wooten laugh-out-loud comedies. Among their most popular works are The Savannah Sipping Society, The Dixie Swim Club, Christmas Belles and Dearly Beloved.
Their plays have been well-received in the Tri-Cities and also around the world. All in all, the trio has written 18 plays that have been produced over 5,300 times.
And in a matter of days, their 19 play will be added to the collection.
“The playwrights understand the dynamics of comedy and the interplay of personalities within families,” said Debra Shoun, a member of the upcoming Jonesborough cast. “On the stage, the characters and the situations remind us of members of our own families in the very same dilemmas that we all encounter at weddings, funerals and parties.”
Shoun has been part of eight other Jones Hope Wooten productions in the region, including the world premiere of The Red Velvet Cake War.
“These characters are real people in real circumstances, and that just naturally leads to humor,” she added. “When people laugh at the characters in their plays, they are laughing at some aspect of themselves, and that keeps us all human and real.”
The show introduces the Wild sisters of Winedale, Virginia — Fanny (played by Shoun) and Willa, along and their quirky sister-in-law, Johnnie Faye — as they navigate everything from turning 60, experiencing widowhood and losing a job to going to singles’ parties and watching their home go down a sinkhole. However, with equal doses of hilarity and heart, these extraordinary women come up with delightful and surprisingly unorthodox ways to free themselves of what’s keeping them from moving their lives forward. They confidently set their sights on accepting nothing less than happiness while there’s still time to enjoy it.
Together they prove it’s never too late to take another one of life’s paths for a brand new adventure.
Shoun and her onstage sister Joy Nagy (Willa) already have sisterly ties. In addition to playing cousins twice, Shoun and Nagy have starred as sisters in six other shows, including Other Desert Cities and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.
It is also the second time Nagy has been part of a Jones Hope Wooten world premiere.
“I feel very honored to be part of this world premiere and to have the unique opportunity to breathe life into a new character for three wonderful playwrights whose works I have enjoyed performing for over 10 years now,” Nagy said. “The script quickly became very special to me because it has not only the trademark Jones Hope Wooten humor, but also sweet and poignant moments as it celebrates the independence, strength and spirit of women from many different walks of life.”
By day Donna Deason (Johnnie Faye) is director of global procurement at Eastman Chemical Company, but for the past several weeks she has spent her evenings creating the character of the recently widowed Johnnie Faye. And though her over-the-top actions and candid commentary often annoy her two sisters-in-law, Deason only feels genuine friendship for her two co-stars and is delighted to be reunited onstage with them again.
“I am working alongside the best in the region,” Deason said. “We have found a friendship bond offstage that enables our onstage characters to really connect. We trust each other to be dependable on lines, blocking, and character personality. By not worrying about those must-haves on stage, we are able to cut loose and truly become the wild women of Winedale.”
The roles of Fanny, Willa and Johnnie Faye will be performed by alternates Mary Nell McIntyre, Katy Rosolowski and Sarah Sanders on Oct. 28 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and on Nov. 1, 4 and 8 at 7:30 p.m.
The JRT appreciates the sponsors for this show: the Bank of Tennessee, Lynda Wexler, Sonia King/Mary B. Martin, and the Wild Women of Jonesborough.
This show is directed by Joe Smith, assisted by Kari Tuthill. Rounding out the cast are Suzanne Cook, Lori Erickson, Phyllis Fox, Dana Kehs, Melissa Nipper and Anna VanEaton.
Performances are Oct. 26 through Nov. 11, with Thursday and Friday shows at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 28 and Nov. 4 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 11 at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $16 general admission, $14 for students and seniors. The theatre is located at 125.5 West Main Street, Jonesborough. To purchase tickets, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at (423)753-1010 or go online to www.jonesboroughtheatre.com.