BWW Interviews: Potomac Playmakers to Present William Inge's BUS STOP
If the summer heat is already too hot for you, come cool off in Grace's Diner when the Potomac Playmakers present Bus Stop this weekend in Hagerstown, MD. Five travelers are stranded in a roadside diner during a howling blizzard in 1955 in Kansas, and as the temperature drops, tensions and passions rise between the various characters in William Inge's comedic classic.
"Bus Stop is an American theater classic because the characters are timeless. The story lines have [happened] and continue to happen every day" said director Ralph Mauriello.
In Bus Stop, several story lines overlap during the course of the show as relationships between the travelers are formed and tested while snowed in at the diner. Bo Decker, a cowboy from Montana, has abducted Kansas City night club singer, Cherie, in hopes of marrying her after the couple had extramarital relations.
Meanwhile, an alcoholic former professor, Dr. Lyman, is intent on romancing Elma, a naïve young high school waitress, while diner owner, Grace, and the bus driver, Carl, have more experienced passing relations of their own. All of the relationships are observed by the local sheriff and by Bo's constant chaperone. With all of the contrasting relationships over the course of the show, Bus Stop is certainly an ensemble piece and the cast has enjoyed working together to tell the story.
"I've enjoyed watching the way the cast has developed the characters. We have a number of experienced actors, actors who haven't performed in awhile and at least one performer who is appearing in his first show. Watching them develop their characters and seeing their characters evolve over time has been a revelation" said Jim Zuna, who plays Bo Decker.
"One challenge has been the collision of the many different personalities and trying to make them one cohesive unit. At the end of the day, all of my actors have come to care about each other and the bond that has formed served to make them better" said Mauriello. "We have a great cast who are all very talented" added Barb McCormick, who plays Grace.
One of the central themes of the show is varied stages of love in relationships between the characters.
"Bus Stop offers a very interesting counterpoint between a comedic interpretation of human love and a deeper, emotional understanding of the same. There are at least three different variations of love portrayed. None of them are perfect, but all of them have value" said Greg Berezuk, who portrays Dr. Lyman.
"I think everyone has experienced, at some point, being in love with someone or interested who doesn't feel the same way. I've been able to draw on that experience in developing the character" said Zuna.
Bus Stop also offered unique challenges for some of the performers.
"The way that the script is written, with multiple vignettes going at the same time, makes it hard connecting the lines" said McCormick.
"This is the second time I've done this show. The opportunity to play the same character twenty four years later and more age appropriate to the character has allowed me to build a more well-defined character" said Berezuk
"There is something in this show for everyone to appreciate" said Zuna . "Bus Stop is funny. It is poignant and meaningful. And it is relevant" added Mauriello.
"It is a classic and it speaks of love in its many forms and relationships. What was true in the 1950's is still true today" said McCormick.
Bus Stop also features Earl Schlotterbeck as Sheriff Will Masters, Johnna Leary as Elma Duckworth, Content Allamong as Cherie, Brian Heinrich as Carl and Chris Brewer as Virgil Blessing. Bus Stop will run June 20 and 21 at 7:00 PM and June 22 at 2:00 PM. Tickets for all performances are $10. All performances occur at the Hagerstown Women's Club at 31 S. Prospect Street, Hagerstown, MD. For more information about Bus Stop or the Potomac Playmakers, please visit www.potomacplaymakers.org.
Photo Credit: Ralph Mauriello/ Potomac Playmakers