September 22, 2010

Leaving Iowa Offers Touching Journey

Theatre students star in Leaving Iowa
L - R: Back: Sharon Biermann, Tabitha Ray,
Front: Zachary Bortot, Sean Cowan
by Judy Baker

For many, the phrase "family vacation" conjures up images of sweltering heat, hours in a car, and an abundance of educational tourist sites. The Regent University Theatre Department captures the nostalgic memories of these annual summer journeys in Leaving Iowa.
In this sentimental comedy penned by stand-up comedians Tim Clue and Spike Manton, journalist Don Browning returns home to Winterset, Iowa, to find a suitable place to scatter his father's ashes. As he journeys across the Midwest, he relives the summer vacations he spent as a boy idly perched with his sister in the backseat of his family's station wagon.

The heartwarming production is set in a cornfield and is told through flashbacks intermingled with the present. "I've joked with the cast that Leaving Iowa is a colorful collision of Hee-Haw and The Glass Menagerie," said director Eric Harrell, chair of Regent's theatre department.

Although it's a comedy, the play poignantly portrays Browning's quest to make peace with his deceased father. "This delightful new play strikes the perfect balance of tender humor as father and son reconnect for one last, grand adventure," Harrell explained. "In many ways, it's a nostalgic ode to days gone by."

The production's message that the journey is often as important as the destination is sure to resonate with people of all ages. "I suspect there won't be a single person in the audience that can't relate to the experiences of the Browning family as they live out their annual summer vacation," Harrell said. "Leaving Iowa will keep our audiences laughing and remembering all of the childhood vacations they've tried so hard to forget.

Leaving Iowa was nominated Best New Play by the American Theatre Critics Association. In Regent University's production, third-year MFA Acting student Sean Cowan performs his thesis role.

Performances continue Sept. 23-26.

Purchase tickets online.

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