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With help from friends, Huntsville man getting ready for first play

June 30, 2014

By Winston Spencer Jr., The Huntsville Item, Texas

June 30--HUNTSVILLE -- A new type of play is coming to Huntsville. "Dust Bowl Motel," set to make its debut in August, is the work of Huntsville'sScott McCarley and Jim Roth. The play will be directed by Marjean Creager.

Auditions will be held Wednesday and Thursday at the J. Phillip Gibbs, Jr., Centre for the Performing Arts, or the Old Town Theatre, at 6 p.m.

The play promises live music and video sure to capture the hearts and minds of audience members, in a unique theater experience.

McCarley, who had never written a play before, had a vision and a dream for the production for years, but it wasn't until he met Roth by chance in a Colorado cafe and the two began talking that he realized Roth's talents as a professional playwright and interest in a collaboration.

Another surprise developed in discovering the music of Caitlin Cary, a singer/songwriter from the group Whiskeytown, an alternative country band fronted by Ryan Adams.

"When I heard their song and those lyrics ("Katie's gone to California. She read there's something in the air."), it connected so closely with the story and I realized I had to get her music involved," said McCarley.

Fortunately Cary was willing to lend her talents to help make Dust Bowl Motel a reality, along with many others. In addition to Creager's expertise as a long-time theater professional and educator, the production includes a host of behind-the scenes local talent including Margie Eglsaer, Melissa Miller, Colette Cotton, Mary McCarley, Cynthia Smith, Rick Hanna, Josh Starkey, Davin James, Chelsey Shaffeld, Kevin Currie, Matt Weedman, Annie Strader, Margaret Smith and Emily Binetti.

"Dust Bowl Motel" will be centered on four main characters: Katie Jo Dawkins, Johnny Ray Perkins, Dusty Wagner and Rosalita.

Set in a rundown motel in western Oklahoma where bad just got worse. The theme is a modern-day story. Its timeless message is centered on the struggles, heartbreak and dreams of one woman's journey to find happiness.

"Katie Jo is the lead character and she's a young to middle-aged woman," McCarley said. "Her character is smart, well-read, but not formally educated."

McCarley's ideal "Katie Jo" is headstrong and a dreamer.

"She dreams about something better, but has been surrounded by others that don't lead to her success," he said. "People who had opportunities but let those opportunities pass them by. She's at a point in her life that she understands that beauty fades."

"Johnny Ray Perkins," according to McCarley, is a character with whom many can identify.

"He's another young to middle-aged former local football star who could have had it all if only he'd worked harder," McCarley said. "He was a nice guy but had no ambition. He's the bad boy."

"Dusty Wagner" is just the opposite.

"Dusty is just a bit older than the others, only not by much. He was not the star, however, through hard work he is the over-achiever," he said.

"Rosalita," is the catalyst and is very integral to the play.

"This play progresses the story through her. She makes the story move," McCarley said of Rosalita. "Escaping the motel is a metaphor for people's desire for something better, something more. It's the place they don't want to be. The story invites us to reflect on what we really value and includes a few surprises along the way."

"Dust Bowl Motel" is a 100 percent benefit performance for the Old Town Theatre and SHSU Performing Arts scholarships. Sponsorships are available for only $200 that includes two tickets and credit in the program.

"The goal is to make this a community project and to truly do that, the community should benefit financially, which is why I have arranged for all ticket sales to be shared with two local organizations -- Old Town Theatre, whose team has done so much to make this effort possible, and also to talented and well deserving SHSU performing arts students to help make their educational and artistic endeavors possible," said McCarley.

Dust Bowl Motel takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 15 and 16 and 2 p.m.Aug. 17 at J. Philip Gibbs, Jr., Centre for Performing Arts (Old Town Theatre) at 1023 12th St. in Huntsville.

Ticket prices are $12 (general admission), $10 (students and seniors/20 ticket group) and can be purchased by calling (936) 293-8681. For more information, go to


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Source: Huntsville Item (TX)

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