By Deborah Sharp
They say the neon lights are bright, on Broadway -- Lou Rawls
The lights at the Shrine Club in Camden County, N.C., may not shine Broadway bright. But I still wish I'd been there when the curtain went up on a benefit play adapted from my wedding-themed mystery, Mama Gets Hitched.
Oh, sure, they did switch the setting from my fictional slice of Florida to North Carolina. And the production, made up mostly of high school students, did encounter a couple of casting glitches. Until shortly before showtime, the gal who wound up playing the Southern belle Mama character was cast as a tough-but-sexy female detective from New Jersey. When the original actress took sick, the last minute stand-in subtracted the Jersey 'tude, added some honey to her accent, stuck the script inside the pages of a prop wedding magazine, and became Mama. In the play, as in my book, the Mama character is taking a fifth stab at tying the sacred knot of matrimony when things go murderously awry.
And what about the role of the sexy female cop? That was filled by a male thespian wearing a woman's wig. Hey, the show must go on!
In the cast photo pictured, Adelle Drahos, at center, is a radiant Mama in a horrifyingly tacky pink dress. Jesse Mitchell is the the law-and-order ''lady,'' crouching at far left, with the buff arms and fetching black wig.
I never thought much would come of it almost a year ago when Adelle contacted me through my web site and asked about adapting my book into a play. It was for a good cause -- the Camden County Educational Foundation. A number of talented kids would get the chance to be involved from Camden High, which had lost its drama teacher and had no school production planned. And it would be a one-time event, during the weekend of March 23-25.
I said yes.
The local newspaper ran an article before the event. You can see a link here.
At the top left of the newspaper's web page, scroll through a few rehearsal pictures if you'd like. I'm still wondering about the one where a male character seems to be opening a fancy gift bag with some leopard-print ladies panties inside.
The area independent bookstore, Page After Page in Elizabeth City, N.C., sold autographed copies of Mama Gets Hitched, which is the third book in my Mace Bauer Mystery Series. The store nicely donated a portion of the proceeds from the book sales. The play itself brought in about $4,000 for the educational foundation -- money that will be used for grants for teachers in the Camden County schools.
At one of the first author signings I ever attended, a friend who writes kids' books invited some youngsters up to perform a scene from her latest work. I thought it was such a great idea that last fall when my fourth book, Mama Sees Stars, came out, I stole it. (To writer-pal Dorian Cirrone: I apologize for my thieving ways!) At a red carpet launch party for the movie-themed mystery, a group of local actors performed a short scene from the book. It's such a rush hearing words you wrote come out of the mouth of a living, breathing character. On the page is one thing. In the flesh, something else entirely.
That's why I wish I'd been there last month to see this talented bunch of young people mount their production of Mama Gets Hitched. Like Ethel Merman said, There's No Business Like Show Business -- even off-off-off Broadway. Besides, it would have been a hoot and a half to hear the honking Bronx accent of Mama's newly betrothed, ''Big Sal'' Provenza, on a stage in down-south North Carolina.
How about you? Have you ever heard your words read out loud in a play? Have you ever written or performed in a play?