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Springfield Little Theatre Presents First Fully-Staged Production of New Play

Landers Theatre interior

Springfield Little Theatre will present the premiere production of Paul Elliott's new comedy "Exit Laughing," one of the winnes of the two-year NewPlayFest. The idea behind the festival and competition is to get new work by playwrights not only produced, but published, says Julie Crawford of the American Association of Community Theaters.

JULIE CRAWFORD: "So our contest has full-length productions of the winners.  The first thing we did was, we selected six theaters to do these productions around the country. Then we solicited scripts--and we had over 250 entered."

One of the six winners was "Exit Laughing" by TV and screen writer PauL elliott, whose last play "Ledge, Ledger and the Legend," was one of the top 25 most-produced one-act plays of the past 25 years. Elliott is a Southerner, and drew on that background in writing this new play.

PAUL ELLIOTT: "All my relatives were from Birmingham, so actually this is more a Birmingham, Alabama piece. My philosophy writing comedy has always been somethng Lucille Ball said: you take something tragic and you go one step further and make it funny.  So 'Exit Laughing'--I thought, what would be 'tragic'?  And I said, DEATH is always horrifying in a person's life.  But what if you were four women who played bridge for 30 years, and one of them has the audacity to die?  What are the other three going to do?  And that led to 'Exit Laughing.'"

What the do is steal her ashes from the funeral home so she can be a part of one more card game.

Chuck Roges directs Springfield Little Theatre's production of "Exit Laughing," and says offering a premiere like this is quite a feather in LT's cap.

CHUCK ROGERS: "I have always been of the belief that Springfield Little Theatre can hold its own with any community theater of our size n the country. And it was real important, when I heard about this NewPlayFest two years ago, to see if we could get in the mix and measure up, and get some national recognition.  And we have gotten quite a bit--we've got people calling for tickets from all over the country!"

"Exit Laughing" by Paul Elliott receives its first fully-staged production at the Landers Theatre, 311 E. Walnut, November 15 through 24.  For more information visit www.springfieldlittletheatre.org.  For KSMU I'm Randy Stewart.