Described as "a geriatric Thelma and Louise plus one" comedy, Breaking Out of Sunset Place about to make its world premiere at Queensbury Theatre, is the story of two women who decide to break out of their senior living center who somewhat reluctantly take along the roommate of one of them.
The story, by Beaumont playwright Patricia Barry Rumble, is a modern-day tale of late-in-life search for independence and boasts a strong cast of actors. Chesley Krohn, a veteran of Theatre Under the Stars, Stages Repertory Theatre and Alley Theatre, plays Emmy. Michele Harrell (Ensemble Theatre and the Alley All New Festival) plays her best friend Maudie and Mary Hooper (Alley, Stages) is Olivia, the roommate who threatens to tell on the friends if they don't take her along. All this is being directed by Marley Singletary, Queensbury's producing executive director.
And backing all of this up is Roselle Baldwin, the Tony-Award-winning (The Band's Visit) managing producer of Roselle Balwin Productions, who lives in Houston, is a TUTS board member and wants to see even more theater developed in Houston.
"I live in Houston Texas and I've been involved as a Broadway producer and investor for about ten years. And I was basically taking my money, and frankly still am, to New York and about two years ago it occurred to me I wanted to support the local theater community and just be part of the change to elevate theater in Houston. At the time I really wasn't sure what direction I was going in. My husband and I are both very active on the board at TUTS; we were very involved in a lot of the changes they did over there. And I decided I needed to morph into producing something here locally."
She says it was very important to her "to create an opportunity for actors and creatives that typically you don't see, that aren't given a lot of opportunity on stage.
"The three leads are written as women over 60 and we went to great pains to cast them that way," she says.
Baldwin had attended a reading, met Rumble and fell in love with her writing. The playwright sent her several of her scripts and the one that most appealed to her was Breaking Out of Sunset Place. It gave a chance for older actresses to have lead roles. "The three leads are written as ladies over 60. We went to great pains to cast them that way."
Baldwin says she thought it was important that they establish an all female production team. "And that's how we came to Queensbury with Marley." Her partners on this production are the Pantheon of Women, "a group of Houston high-profile women who have come together to create a fund to promote diversity opportunity for women in the entertainment industry," she said.
Breaking will appeal to all audiences, Baldwin thinks. "I like to broaden the theater base in Houston." While her
target audience is the 22-35 age group, she says this play is something that grandchildren can attend with their grandparents.
Performances are scheduled for January 24 through February 10 at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at Queensbury Theatre, 12777 Queensbury (CityCentre Houston) . For information, call 713-467-4497 or visit queensburytheatre.org. $15-$50.
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