Established theater conventions bring the audience familiar expectations and experiences.
But new experiences sometimes require a new approach. This Valentine’s Day season, Alton Little Theater will offer playgoers a taste of the new in “Miss Abigail’s Guide to Mating, Dating and Marriage.”
“This is a show about the wackiest love guru you would ever meet,” Director Lee Cox said. “She gives outdated advice. She’s called a pre-feminist with homespun humor. But after the silliness is stripped away, some of what she says actually makes sense.”
“Miss Abigail’s Guide to Mating, Dating and Marriage” — penned by Sara Saltberg and Ken Davenport — is an interactive comedy show. The character Miss Abigail delivers a lecture on dating and marriage and also answers questions from her audience. Portions of the play are scripted, but members of the real audience will have the opportunity to ask Abigail, played by Gail Drillinger, questions on sex, dating and marriage. Of course, Drillinger’s responses will require improvisational skills.
“I’ve been in lots of comedies,” Drillinger said. “They’re so fun to do. It’s also great receiving that audience feedback you do in a comedy.”
Cox said the show will be effective because “it makes fun of our obsession with self-help books and celebrities.” A new play, “Miss Abigail’s” was first staged in a New York Off-Broadway theater in 2008. The play will run 90 minutes. The show will be the 57th Cox has worked on with ALS.
“The key to a show like this (comedy) is getting a fabulous cast,” Cox said. “Gail (Drillinger) has done a wealth of comedies over the years and Jared (Hennings) and I have worked on a lot of heavy, dramatic shows, but I saw him in a comedy years ago and he made me laugh hard.”
Hennings will portray Abigail’s sidekick, Paco. Hennings has acted in six plays with ALS.
“I enjoy this one because it’s different that the other roles I’ve played,” Hennings said. “It’s different simply because it’s a comedy. I haven’t done a lot of comedy. I feel there’s some comedic sides of my being; I’m a humorous sort of fellow.”
The show is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 6 and Feb. 7, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8, at Alton Little Showplace. Those interested in purchasing tickets can call (618) 462-3205 or go to www.altonlittletheater.org. Tickets cost $10.