For Rick Wilson and his wife, Nancy, going to the theater often meant nothing more than a fun night out. Then, Rick got inspired.
After watching a Capital Repertory Theatre production of “Menopause: The Musical,” he felt compelled to write the male response and came up with “Four Play: The Musical,” which will be performed Friday and Saturday night at 7:30 at Foy Hall on the campus of Siena College.
Along with writing the play, Wilson, with the help of his wife, created his own Equity theater company, Wil Par, to produce the show. It played to four sell-out crowds at the Charles R. Wood Theater in Glens Falls earlier this month, and was also staged twice before a packed house at the Lake George Country Club.
Avery Babson, who performed as Miss Poppenghul in “Moonlight and Magnolias” at the Lake George Dinner Theatre last summer, is directing the production, while making up the cast are five talented and professional actors, including Bill Carmichael, a Broadway veteran and a Vermont resident who has worked often at Fort Salem and with the Oldcastle Theatre Company in Bennington, Vt.
The genesis of “Four Play: The Musical” began back in 2008 when the Wilsons drove down from the Glens Falls area to Albany to see the Capital Rep production of Jeanie Landers’ “Menopause: The Musical.”
“I was one of five or six guys in a room filled with women and we were mocked mercilessly,” said Wilson, only half joking. “It was a great show, but the first thing I thought was there’s gotta be a male response to this. Men go through changes, maybe not the same as women confront, but they shouldn’t have a monopoly on something like this.”
‘Four Play: The Musical’
WHERE: Foy Hall at Siena College, Loudonville
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
HOW MUCH: $30
MORE INFO: 1-800-838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com
Nancy Wilson, who said her husband “came out of the theater with a grin from ear to ear,” was stunned to hear that her husband of 36 years suddenly wanted to become a playwright.
“What would any wife say to her husband who wanted to write the male response to that show,” she said. “I looked at him and said, ‘OK, show me.’ ”
Wilson did just that, but Nancy became an early partner in the project, throwing occasional ideas at him and prodding him to finish the script. The first staged reading of the play came in April of 2013, after the Wilsons had secured Babson and a stage manager, Sara E. Friedman.
The story, performed initially by a group of local community theater actors, centers on four male friends who get together once every summer for a golf outing.
“When men get together they share their life experiences, and they talk about family, women, drinking beer and stupid stuff like that,” said Wilson. “It could be hunting, fishing, or going to the big football game, and with me it made sense to make it about golf.”
Wilson, a graduate of St. Mary’s of Glens Falls and Siena College, wrote 10 musical parodies as well as two original compositions to go along with the dialogue. Along with the four male characters, there is also a woman played by Melissa Bayern, a New York City-based actress who has done extensive theater, film and voice-over work.
“When I started I just wanted to tell a story, and I couldn’t demonstrate how shallow men can be without writing a female character into the show,” said Wilson, who owns and operates Adirondack Mortgage Service in Glens Falls.
“I never had this goal or expectation that I could be a playwright. I just had the idea and with my wife’s help, kept on going.”
Following the advice of their stage manager, a member of Actors Equity, the Wilsons went about putting together an Equity production.
“Sara had mentioned about getting Avery to direct, and we had seen her perform a couple of times and knew the caliber of her work,” said Nancy Wilson, who went to Hudson Falls High School and McGill University in Canada.
“Everybody in community theater said that Avery would be the one to take this to the next level. Once we had Sara and Avery, we petitioned the Actors Equity Association and they accepted us.”
In the cast with Carmichael and Bayern are Rick Coons, Chuck Muckle and Barry Pratt. John Benware is the music director and Sherry Recinella is the costume designer.
“We’ve had a tremendous response so far,” said Nancy Wilson. “I think it’s hilarious, and people have told me the same thing. We haven’t had any backing yet. It’s just the two of us, so we’re not sure what’s next. It’s been an incredible experience, but my husband and I are not roadies. We’re going to need some help to keep the show going, so we’ll have to see what happens.”
Rick Wilson said his play is still, to some degree, a work in progress.
“If you talk to any playwright, and here I am throwing myself in that group, any piece of work can be improved,” he said. “There’s no question that there are segments of the show I would like to tweak, and I should have the opportunity to do that.”