A theatrical production held April 17-18 will bring acting into a new, unique venue.
Liquid Smoke, a lounge on the Murfreesboro Square, will play host to a total of four performances of “Everyday Heroes” at 4 and 7 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.
Not only is the location somewhat out of the ordinary for a play, the work is a locally written project that has hit the stage for only one previous run, at Murfreesboro Little Theatre back in October 2008.
“Everyday Heroes,” written by Tony Lehew, features a cast of characters who are regulars at a bar and focuses on their relationships and conversations.
“These are real people; these are real stories,” said Lehew of the characters featured in the production, but he added they all are conglomerates and composites and no character is actually based on one single individual. “A lot of these characters have a lot of me in them too,” he said.
Lehew, a songwriter, storyteller, firefighter and now playwright, said the idea for “Everyday Heroes” has been brewing in his head since his early 20s.
“It’s been writing itself for over 20 years,” he said.
The people he’s met “hanging out in bars” have inspired him over the years, he said; however, he never put pen to paper until about two years ago, primarily inspired by Wayman Price’s peer-reviewed writers’ sessions at the Little Theatre.
“What turned this from an idea into a play was writers’ night at MLT,” Lehew said.
The concept of having other writers and actors critiquing the play was very helpful in finalizing “EH,” and that led to the opening on the MLT stage.
Liquid Smoke owner Mike LaMure was in attendance at one of those performances, and Lehew always had the idea to produce the work inside a bar rather than the standard theater, so now this month the forces have aligned to have the first theatrical opening at Liquid Smoke.
“What we’ve done this time is take it and put it in its true environment,” Lehew said. “We’re going to take theater to some new people and introduce some theater people to the bar,” he joked.
Instead of audiencemembers sitting quietly in their seats in a formal auditorium, focused on what’s happening on stage, the actors will be scattered about the lounge and may even be sitting at the same table as some of the audience members, for a level of interaction rarely seen.
“This is the first time I’ve been involved in a production in such an unusual environment,” said Bryan Booth, the play’s director. “The major challenge associated with this show is the unpredictable nature of the audience. Since the actors will be using the full environment, walking between audience members or even joining them at their tables, the traditional fourth wall of the theatre is completely gone. This will make for a fascinating experiment when the show is performed.”
The project really shows the open-mindedness of the Liquid Smoke owners and management, Lehew said; going out on a limb and trying something new is never easy.
On another interesting note, Director Booth is something of an “everyday hero” himself, Lehew said. Booth, diagnosed with cancer, underwent drastic surgery just last year that removed his tongue and parts of his jaw. He was given very little chance to survive, let alone speak or eat, but today he seems to be on the winning end of his battle with cancer.
“Bryan Booth is one of the toughest people I’ve ever met,” Lehew said of his director. “He’s beating something a lot of people haven’t been able to overcome.”
While the production focuses on a group of friends who met in a bar, the relationships can be applied to close groups of people in any setting.
“If you’ve ever found someplace you’ve hung out regularly, you know what it means,” Lehew said. “It can be a bar, it can be a church, it can be a poker game at a buddy’s house.”
For tickets to “Everyday Heroes,” stop in Liquid Smoke, 2 Public Square, Murfreesboro.