News Column

Complex, yet humorous: Upcoming Edgefield play promises multi-layered experience

June 28, 2014

By Stephanie Turner, Aiken Standard, S.C.

June 28--When he first read the play's script, the director found the writing odd but the plot comedic.

As he started the play's rehearsals, he and his cast uncovered more layers beneath the show's existing humor.

Next month, the Edgefield County Theatre Company will present "The Little Miss Firecracker Contest."

The show will run on July 11, 12, 18 and 19 at 8 p.m., and July 13 and 20 at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $18.

It will take place in the Joanne T. Rainsford Discovery Center, 405 Main St., Edgefield.

For more information, visit the company's Facebook page or call 803-637-3833.

"The Little Miss Firecracker Contest" is written by Beth Henley, a playwright known for pulling "sadness out of comedy," according to Mary Benedetto, president of the theater company's board.

In the show, starry-eyed, small town girl Carnelle Scott has her sights set on winning the Miss Firecracker Contest.

As she races for her "blaze of glory," the troubles of Scott's eccentric relatives and friends comes along to throw some fire into her path.

It was the Board who chose this play and chose its director -- Kenneth McCormack.

"They had heard how I wanted to direct in the future," McCormack said. "The future came sooner than I thought it was going to."

McCormack, 17, is heavily involved with the Aiken Community Playhouse Youth Wing.

However, within the last year, the actor has either appeared in or assisted with the Edgefield shows "Second Samuel," "Bus Stop" and "Dog Sees God."

"He's a multi-faceted, talented young man," Benedetto said.

Before he was chosen for this play, McCormack admitted he knew very little about the story.

McCormack took a couple months to study the script.

Auditions arrived in April.

Around 15 people turned out for the six-role cast.

"I was very lucky; I was able to cast from my auditions," McCormack said.

The cast consists of Brittany Winans as Carnelle Scott; Laura Melvin as Popeye Jackson; Carson Faulkner as Delmount Williams; Ali McCormack as Elain Rutledge; Kevin Berning as Mac Sam and Moriah Melvin as Tessy Mahoney.

Backstage are Michael Coleman, assistant director and stage manager, and Helene Fitch, assistant stage manager.

Some of the cast and crew have prior experience with Edgefield's theater company.

Faulkner just co-starred in the company's last production "Greater Tuna."

Others, like Winans, are completely new to the venue.

This is also Winans' first time as a lead character.

"I was really worried about it, (but) it's been a lot of fun," she said.

Winans and McCormack have worked together before.

"Most of the cast are my friends, but we've been able to separate from that when we step into the building," McCormack said. "They are really talented ... (they) take direction really well and pick up their characters like that."

Since this is McCormack's first time in the director's seat, he sought the opinions of Playhouse veteran directors Jim Anderson and Bob Franklin.

It was Franklin who revealed to McCormack the show's darker layer.

"I don't want to be afraid of other's opinions," McCormack said. "I firmly believe you learn something from every show ... (and) I told the cast from the beginning that I want this to be a learning experience for all of us."

This is the smallest cast Winans has been in.

"It's smaller here, more intimate," she said. "You really get a chance to work on your character and connect with everyone in the cast (as well as) be able to connect with the audience more, too."

McCormack will also direct Edgefield County Theatre Company's next summer production, "Arsenic and Old Lace."

Stephanie Turner graduated from Valdosta State University in 2012. She then signed on with the Aiken Standard, where she is now the arts and entertainment reporter.


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Source: Aiken Standard (SC)

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