Friday, August 3, through Sunday, August 12
Augustana College's Brunner Theatre Center, 3750 Seventh Avenue, Rock Island IL
Concluding their 2018 season with a world premiere at Augustana College, the Mississippi Bend Players will, from August 3 through 12, stage a collaboration between an Emmy-nominated writer/producer and a Broadway-veteran director: the pitfalls-of-show-business comedy Beginner's Luck, written by noted sitcom scribe P.J. Lasker (The Golden Girls, Barney Miller) and directed by the Great White Way's Philip Wm. McKinley (Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, The Boy from Oz).
Set in present-day Hollywood, Beginner's Luck finds a former child star down on his luck in his 20s and trying, and failing, to deal with his loss of fame. Dropped by his agent, disliked by his ex-wife, and bemoaning his lack of confidence, the young has-been attempts to cope through questionable plans for a comeback and fast-paced conversations … which the actor, Harold, has with his alternate self, Harry.
Enjoying its first-ever theatrical staging, Beginner's Luck is an original work by Lasker, a “Best Comedy Series” nominee for co-producing the TV classic The Golden Girls whose other Hollywood credits include scripts for Barney Miller, Mama's Family, and the feature film The Man from Elysian Fields. McKinley, who serves as the Mississippi Bend Players' Executive Artistic Director and helmed the 2017 company debut Zombie Prom, directed Hugh Jackman to a Tony Award in The Boy from Oz and boasts Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark and The Most Happy Fella among additional New York credits, with local ones including Augustana College's 2013 A Green River and the Curatinbox Theatre Company's 2010 Wit.
Portraying the yin/yang team of Harold and Harry are real-life brothers Keenan and Tristan Odenkirk, both of whom appeared in the Mississippi Bend Players' season-opening production of Big River. Keenan, who recently graduated from Augustana, also co-starred in the MBP's The Glass Menagerie and Zombie Prom, while Tristan, entering his junior year at Augustana, portrayed Eugene Jerome in last summer's Neil Simon comedy Brighton Beach Memoirs. Also featured in Beginner's Luck are area actors Lora Adams (the Black Box Theatre's Murderers), Megan Clarke (the MBP's Brighton Beach Memoirs), Mark Ruebling (Quad City Music Guild's Curtains), Reader employee Mike Schulz (the MBP's Wait Until Dark), and an ensemble composed of Madeline Fer, Melina Herman, Noel Huntley, Ellie Larson, Kira Rangel, and Jaryd Whitmore.
Beginner's Luck will be performed at Augustana's Brunner Theatre Center on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., with the August 3 and 4 performances immediately followed by talk-back sessions with author Lasker, director McKinley, and members of the show's cast and crew. Admission is $15-20, and more information and tickets are available by calling (309)794-7306 or visiting MississippiBendPlayers.com.