“I am a writer and have always been interested in film. Three years ago I wanted to write a screenplay. The first time I heard Ross Newell play the song “Calamine,” it was so cinematic. There was a plot twist in the end and the song was brilliant. I saw the potential of a bigger story. An unconditional love story about a love not found at home. The first draft was written for Ross and I just wanted him to love it. I thought I would have the satisfaction of writing this and it would end up as a log on a crooked table. I never dreamed it would become a play on stage or that other people would experience it.
Three years ago I wanted to write a screenplay. I never thought anyone would see it
The final dress rehearsal this week was my first time to watch the show. It was a big line to cross. There were plenty of things to correct before opening night. It is surreal to see all that has been in my head the last three years come alive on stage and watch the audience react. I remember when I wrote the words that are now coming out of actors’ mouths. The play tightened the writing and ‘Calamine’ will come out as a novel in a few months
It was a challenge to take a screenplay to the stage. This was also my first time to be a director. There are so many details and moving parts. Details like the color palette that matches the mood and emotion of the scenes. There are experienced directors in the cast and I asked for their input and for better ideas. I am still stunned by how good our cast is. I gave them room to make their own character choices. I wish I had written some of the lines they ad-libbed. I wanted to be true to Ross’ songs and weave as many specifics as I could.I want the audience to recognize the lines to the song many of them love. It is not going to win a Tony, but I hope this exceeds the expectations of a locally-originated play should look like. I hope it is a play you can watch again and catch things you missed before.
Ross has been a part of every step of the process, including recording the transition music and painting the stage floor. He has fans coming from North Dakota, California, Oklahoma, all across the country to see this. I am proud to be a part of the Mobile Theater Guild and opening their season. Last year was a tough one for MTG. Our ticket advanced ticket sales are very good and we are already kicking them off in the right way. We are so grateful they wanted us here.
I am a retired pastor. God created us with a need to create. There have been so many moments of self-doubt and sleepless nights over the last three years. I questioned why I was putting all of this time into writing something other people would never see. But you do it anyway because not creating is even harder. Opening night is on my birthday. Going after this dream feels like a gift I have given myself.