FLY AWAY HOME Comes to LAB Theater Project in May

Performances run May 2 – 19. 

By: Apr. 22, 2024
FLY AWAY HOME Comes to LAB Theater Project in May
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LAB Theater Project will present Fly Away Home, a new play by Gwendolyn Rice.  Set in 1914, this intriguing play dramatizes a real incident in what has been called the worst day of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s life.

The playwright, Gwendolyn Rice, a long-time mainstay of the Madison, WI, theater community now based in Seattle, has had plays produced across the Midwest as well as in Houston, Knoxville, and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  She is also a theater critic and playwriting teacher.  Fly Away Home is directed by well-known regional actor and director Katie Calahan, and features local actors Mandy Keen, Owen Robertson, Larry Corwin and Zack Finley.  Robertson also designed the set and lights; costumes are by Lindsay Ellis and sound by Rick Anthony.

About the play:

On a hot night in August 1914, famed master builder Frank Lloyd Wright boards a private train car in Chicago, desperate for news about the fire at his legendary home, Taliesin, and his family’s safety.  Joining him at the last minute on this agonizing journey is one of the last people he would want to see, Edwin Cheney -- whose wife, Mamah, and children are at Taliesin after abandoning Cheney to live with the eccentric architect.  And the ambitious young gossip columnist who comes aboard the train to deliver a telegram for Wright may have her own reasons for wanting to share their compartment on the worst day of their lives.

According to the playwright, she became fascinated by the myths about Frank Lloyd Wright while working as a tour guide at Taliesin.  One of her favorites was this story of Wright and his lover’s ex-husband suffering through a long, tension-filled train ride together, with no idea of the extent of the devastation they were approaching.  “And then one day, as I told this story to a tour group,” Rice continued, “a gentleman commented that the really interesting part of their drama was the newspaper reporters, who wrote about the tragedy in a way that screamed with sensational headlines and vilified Wright.  And that was when the pieces of the story fell into place.  Official accounts from the time actually say that the two men remained silent during the entire six-hour train trip.  But I imagined a very different journey, filled with arguments and with a shared dread.

Director Calahan says she immediately connected to the play through its parallels with 21st century life: “I like that Fly Away Home is based on stranger-than-fiction, real-life events. It reminds us how long-standing and toxic America's obsessive relationship with celebrity really is. That the famous and infamous are just as vulnerable to all the disappointment and tragedies life brings. How unifying the human condition is and how large it can loom, even over the largest of personalities.”

Fly Away Home runs for three weekends, May 2 – 19.  Performances are Thursday through Saturday at 8:00 pm and Sunday matinees at 3:00 pm, in LAB’s theater at 812 E. Henderson Avenue, on the western edge of Ybor City.  Taped performances will also be available on demand, starting May 16 and runs through May 30.  Audience members who purchase on-demand tickets will be emailed a link to the video site.  LAB Theater Project reserves the right to adjust the number of seats available in response to CDC guidance, to protect the health and wellbeing of our audiences, cast and crew.

Tickets for Fly Away Home are $31.00 online or $33.00 at the door, and are available through LAB’s website,  For questions or interview requests, please contact the Box Office at 813-586-4272, or email us at


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