Longtime director becomes first-time playwright with ‘The Thursday Night Bridge Circle’
Ray Kennedy based the show on the real women who were part of the bridge club in his hometown of La Grange, NC
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The pandemic gave Ray Kennedy the time to finally write the play he’s been thinking about creating for the past 25 years.
Now, audiences can see The Thursday Night Bridge Circle on stage at N. Front Theatre July 9-11 and July 15-18.
The first-time playwright is a well-known member of the Wilmington theater community, who directed numerous musical productions.
Kennedy based the story on the bridge club that his mother was part of in the 1970s. He describes the play as a Southern comedy that turns sharply and deals with the racial tensions of the time.
“It’s a play that has been rattling around in my mind for a long time and takes place in my hometown of La Grange, North Carolina in August 1970, which is a really interesting time because it’s the beginning of desegregation,” he said. “It’s a very funny Southern play but it also had some of the topics of the time. My mother played in this club and I always say this in a nice way all those women manipulated all of our lives on Thursday nights.”
When the pandemic began, Kennedy ended up stuck in Florida due to travel restrictions.
“I got on a plane and went to Florida, I thought for a week and then the world got changed and shut down,” he said. “I was in Florida staying with my friends and had all this time on my hands and I thought well this is now or never, stop talking about this and sit down and write it.”
Kennedy said it only took about two weeks to write the first draft. However, months of editing followed.
The show debuted Thursday, July 8. Kennedy said seeing on stage for the first time was a thrill.
“I’ll never ever forget it,” he said. “It’s going to be one of the greatest nights ever to finally see it come to fruition on the beautiful set with gorgeous costumes and really talented director Sara Rogers taking these wonderful actresses and making the story come to life and then to be in a theater with some of my closest friends listening to my words and listening to actresses make them better, it was really a special night.”
The play stars Michelle Braxton, Heather Setzler and Beth Crookham.
“They are a trio of really great, strong, funny women,” Kennedy said.
He said it is also a delight to see audiences back inside the theater.
“I hope they come see it because they want to laugh and listen to some of the things that happened and think about how they feel about racism and segregation and who and what they were then and who they are now,” he said.
Ticket information can be found here: www.operahousetheatrecompany.org.
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