Playwright dubs new show at Williamston a sad farce

The play was picked before the pandemic, but the events of the past few years have amplified the need for work addressing the themes found in “Tracy Jones,” which Williamston Theater opened on this month. It runs through June 19.

A new work that Williamston is jointly producing this season with theaters in New York and Florida, the comedy takes place in the back room of a chain restaurant where Tracy Jones is hosting a party for everyone who shares her name. It is also a co-production with Tipping Point Theater in Northville, so when the show closes at Williamston, it will pack up and immediately move to the other theater and the actors and technical staff get another several weeks of employment.

Director Tony Caselli, who is also the theater’s artistic director, first encountered the script when a friend sent it to him. The National New Play Network promotes new works by helping to arrange what are called “rolling world premieres,” where a show opens at multiple theaters and all get credit for being the premiere.

Written by Stephen Kaplan, “Tracy Jones” touches upon loneliness and isolation, themes which were intensified during the pandemic. Filled with laughter and humor while touching on blue subjects, the playwright calls it a sad farce. Caselli said he was immediately drawn to the script when he read it in early 2019.

Emily Sutton-Smith and Steve DeBruyne in Williamston Theatre's production of

“It’s really funny and really sweet,” Caselli said. “Then I found him on the New Play Exchange Network and started sharing it out to other theaters I’ve worked with.”

At the time he read it, isolation was something he felt was coming from technology, social media and the divisiveness of the world in general. On Giving Tuesday in 2019, they staged a reading of the play and earmarked it for their next season—a season which would be canceled by COVID.

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