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ART & ABOUT: Lone Star Spirits

Walter, Marley focus on GLOB Master's dilemma 

By Mike Sanford. GLOB Editor and Lynn Dirk

Have you ever gone to an event thinking it was going to be one thing, and it turns out to be something different?  I was ready for a musical comedy about cowboys, bars, and country music at the opening night of Lone Star Spirits at the Hippodrome, only to find out I was at a play that had a serious pull on this dad's heart strings as it explored coming to terms with both your present and your past -- and your father.

JTobiessonMUGJosh Tobiesson's play treats the audience to an evening of love and love lost in a rundown old Texas town where the highlight of the city was winning a high school football state championship years earlier.

Walter (Bryan Mercer) runs Lone Star Spirits, a liquor store. His estranged daughter, Marley (Marissa Toogood), walks through the door for the first time in five years with her fiancé, Ben (Niall Mcginty), in tow. Walter thinks she has come in response to a letter he wrote, but Marley has come calling for a different reason.

After Marley had graduated high school, she left town with her mother as the result of an unfriendly divorce from Walter. 

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One of the locals Drew (Haulston Mann) is an old boyfriend of Marley's and hangs out' at the store regularly reliving his glory days as the star of that famous football championship. Another local we meet is Jessica (Brook Taylor Benson), a schoolmate of Drew and Marley's, who likes to get out and about from time to time.

 LONESTARdrew

During the stories of reliving the football championship and getting in trouble together, Marley grills her dad on his happiness of living in the worn out old town and tries to convince him to go to where her mother took her and she currently lives, Austin, Texas

 LONESTARdrewDAD

The relationship between Marley and her father was special for me as I watched them wanting to be together and reliving memories. I have just had a bad year of medical issues and my daughter, Jana, has taken on her father as her personal mission.  I like it. She can get a little carried away at times, but her intent to care for her father never leaves me wondering how lucky I am, knowing I have someone looking after me. 

That's what looked like it was happening at the Lone Star Spirits store. In the milieu of stories and anecdotes about the old town, Marley's mission was always apparent and her dad didn't have a lot of say in the ensuing process.  The memories were great.  The young folk hanging out in the store of this almost ghost town were funny reliving their past and hoping for one more major memory.

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In a story about all kinds of love, it's funny how one fit my present condition.  Drew and Jessica appear to be thinking about giving a relationship another go.  Marley and Ben were engaged, and Marley was driving that relationship bus.

It's hard to tell where Marley or Walter were going in their struggle of love and trust.  I am there.  I get what was going on on that stage.  My daughter would like for me to move in with her and her family.  She suggests it often, makes comments, and has ideas on the worthiness of the idea. I love that she thinks that would be best for me.  But I'm not ready to give up my independence yet.  But I do like her thinking about me that way.

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The interactions of the actors made this play very believable. 

 zzGLOBbullet Drew was a good study of an old high school hero refusing to let go of the past.  He has a jar with money and notes regarding the building of a statue of the pass he caught to won the football championship.

zzGLOBbullet Jessica, who stops in the bar from time to time to get away from her mother and her young child, enjoys the memories and getting some attention from Drew.

 zzGLOBbullet Ben (Niall McGinty) has it all figured out as an online entrepreneur ready for the next deal.

 zzGLOBbullet Walter likes his store, his world, and friends and isn't ready for life changing events, regardless of how good they sound.

zzGLOBbullet  Marley has decided it is time for her to take care of her father.  A noble idea that no else has really bought into yet.

Director Stephanie Lynge has created a good cast of actors here to recreate this group of diehard Texans taking one more bite of the LOVE apple. The interesting thing is LOVE is coming from so many directions and leaving no one unscathed.

The HIPP Design Team has done a masterful job of creating the atmosphere of the store as a neighborhood hang out I bet you would want to visit if you were in this small, soon-to-be ghost-like cowboy town of the recent past.  It did seem like there could have been a few more tunes in the background.  (I'm still waiting to meet Hipp Sound designer Amanda Nipper).

This is a good play that gives the audience a lot to think about.  And who doesn't like thinking and talking about love?

EDITOR'S NOTE:  The GLOB wishes to thank the Hippodrome Theatre, Gainesville Downtown, and Michael A. Eaddy for pictures and inspiration for this review.  Lone Star Spirits continues on multipule days and times until Februray 16.

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The Hipp Team is doing something special with this producton of LONE STAR SPIRITS.  After the show’s last performance on February 16 they will be taking the production to St. Petersburg to share the show with freeFall Theater goers.  In return freeFall Theatre will bring their show Maria & Rosetta to Gainesville.  The Hipp staff and actors are excited about this exchange and hope it is something that works out for everyone involved including Hipp theater goers.

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