The Kechi Playhouse is closing out its current season with a new, original comedy. Written and produced by theater owner Misty Maynard, “Copper Moon” debuted last weekend and runs through October. It’s the story of a struggling art gallery and the determination of its owner to stay in business. The humorous play brings up issues about truth and deception while questioning the meaning of art.
Maynard says the fast moving production will keep audiences guessing all the way through.
“This is a contemporary play. It’s happening now,” she said. “I like plays where things keep happening. There are lots of twists and turns that will keep people engaged. You won’t know how this is going to end. It will keep you on the edge of your seat.”
The story revolves around gallery owner Lea Herron, whose fine art business is about to go under. Instead of surrendering to the inevitable, she decides to get creative. She signs a lucrative contract with a reclusive artist by the name of H.C. He’s a mysterious figure and little is known about him. His work has become quite popular, though.
When a local art reviewer arrives to critique his collection, he finds it lousy and subpar. Lea contends that he doesn’t know anything about abstract work. To settle their dispute over artistic integrity, an expert is called in. This leads Lea to panic, fearing that a true critic’s eye could doom H.C.’s reputation and close her gallery’s doors. While she bemoans this possibility in a monologue to the audience, a strange man named Boris appears at her balcony. He convinces Lea to enlist someone to steal the painting to keep the art critic from seeing it. After some cajoling, she agrees to hire him to carry out this task. That sets into motion a humorous chain of events that ultimately lead to the truth about H.C.’s art and the motives of all involved.
“It’s been an interesting experience to write it,” Maynard said. “You always wonder how original material will be received. The actors have really enjoyed it, and that gives you courage when they say that they like it.”
Maynard described “Copper Moon” as being a true comedy, but not a farce full of slap-stick humor. Most of the laughs come from the dialogue and the character’s actions. It’s tasteful and never vulgar, she said. The play explores how art is a personal matter and how different forms of art can affect people differently. Another central theme is that everyone lies. The extent and the effects of untruths are humorously exploited in this production.
Maynard, who has been operating the Kechi Playhouse for 31 years, said that this will be the 159th play performed on their stage. She wrote it over the summer, and it’s the sixth original play she has penned. Maynard said that writing a story in-house is more economical, and it allows for the direction and plot to be fashioned to fit the constraints of the theater.
“With the economy and all it’s just very helpful if we don’t have to pay those (royalty) fees. Plus it’s just plain fun and creative,” she said.
“Copper Moon” stars Mary Jane Teall award winner Ann-Marie Rogers as Lea Herron. Jason LaCoss plays the opportunist Boris. Dave Sevart takes on the role of the enigmatic artist, H.C. Rounding out the cast are Maureen Kirby as Sylvia Foster, Hilary Staton as Hailey, and Jeff Dary as Nigel Fisk.
“It’s nice to be able to write something that works physically, works economically, and where the material is relevant and able to be enjoyed by our audiences,” Maynard said. “It makes for a nice, light evening.”