July 18, 2008

Playwright Hopes ‘Stonewall’s Bust’ Will Leave Audience Breathless With Laughter

By Carla DeStefano

When playwright John Morogiello's comedy "Stonewall's Bust" takes stage for the first time, he has some high hopes for the outcome.

"I hope the audience will leave the show gasping for breath from laughing so hard. I hope they have oxygen in the theatre ready to go," he says. "But I am a humble man - a simple man."

It's that humor that is carried through his play, which will be presented at the Mountain Playhouse in Jennerstown beginning Tuesday.

Set in the South, the farce is about a man named Paul (Robert Rokicki) from New York who visits the family of his debutante girlfriend, Nancy (Seana Hollingsworth), for the first time. Nancy's mother owns a confederate heritage museum where Paul accidentally breaks a priceless statue of Stonewall Jackson.

What follows is a series of cover ups, larger lies, misunderstandings and an exorcism on live television.

"There are other colorful characters. Others have secrets. There are a lot of mishaps between all the couples, as well," says Hollingsworth.

In the end, Paul must make a decision between the woman he loves and his personal safety.

"Stonewall's Bust" has been a work in progress for Morogiello. He first developed the idea more than 20 years ago while in graduate school. In the past three years, the playwright put those thoughts on paper to create the comedy.

Daniel Gidron of Boston will direct the play. He and Morogiello have worked closely to stage the farce for the first time.

"It's kind of exciting, because you are the first one to mow the lawn," Gidron says. "I love working with the playwrights. It's great to see something take shape that hasn't been tried before."

For Hollingsworth, her part gives her the opportunity to create a character on stage - a character the audience hasn't met before in any other theater.

"It's really fun as an actor, because you are the first person who gets to imagine who this person is," she says. "But the most fun is just knowing that no one has ever done it before."

Since rehearsals began, Morogiello has been at the Playhouse theatre tweaking his creation, so it plays out just as he wants it to on stage.

"What you thought was hilarious when you were sitting alone in your basement in a bathrobe at 3 a.m. might not necessarily work when an actor tries it on stage," says Morogiello.

The comedy was the winner of the 2007 Mountain Playhouse International Comedy Playwriting Contest and the second winning play from the annual contest to be produced at the historic professional summer theater. The winner of the 2008 contest will be announced on opening night of "Stonewall's Bust" with the award ceremony planned for September.

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