It’s been performed everywhere from off-Broadway in New York to community theaters across the country from Connecticut to Oklahoma. Now The Cover of Life returns back to where it belongs, right here in northeast Louisiana. The Cover of Life opened at Strauss last Thursday and has already been getting rave reviews from our audiences.If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, you know by now that The Cover of Life has some serious local roots. It’s written by Bastrop native Ronn Robinson. It’s set in 1943 in Sterlington, the small town about halfway between Bastrop and Monroe. (Although if you ask anyone close to Robinson, they’ll tell you that the Sterlington he writes about in the play is really Bastrop. Why didn’t he just call it Bastrop? Who knows?) The play’s first-ever performance was even performed at Bastrop’s Rose Theater back in 1994. When he was younger, Robinson performed in many plays during his time as a student at Bastrop High School and NLU (now ULM). He’s even performed on our stage here at Strauss. Robinson hoped to pursue a career as a professional actor, but when that didn’t work out, he decided to write this play about the lives of the women he grew up with. One of the play’s main characters, Tood, is based on Robinson’s mother Ollie, who also went by Tood. The Cover of Life is, to my knowledge, the only play Robinson has written; sadly he passed away in 1995, just a year after the show’s premiere.
I had a chance to see this show Thursday night. One of the great things about doing this play here in Monroe with local actors is that it adds a bit of authenticity to the story. I’m sure the folks up in New York did a fine job in their production, but nothing beats a local play with a cast of local performers, and the actors who were cast in Strauss’s production really fit their characters perfectly. The cast even features an actress from that original 1994 performance at the Rose: Mitzi Quinn, who played Tood in that production, returns as Aunt Ola this time around.
Another great thing about performing this play locally is that the audiences understand all the local references. Monroe and Bastrop are mentioned numerous times as well as other area landmarks. One particular line mentioning the town of Mer Rouge got a big laugh from the audience because we’ve heard of the town; I doubt it would have gotten that kind of response from audiences in New York or other parts of the country!
As for the play itself, The Cover of Life isn’t your typical light-hearted story. It’s a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions; it has plenty of comedy, but also some tragedy as well. It’s a very moving and poignant story, one that will hit you hard and stay with you for a while. But it’s truly worth seeing. It feels right at home on our stage, and our local cast, under the direction of Brenda Rowan, does a phenomenal job of bringing it to life.
There are two more chances to see it, this Friday and Saturday, October 19 and 20, at 7 pm. Trust me, you won’t want to miss out on this one. Call Donna at 318-323-6681 to buy your tickets today!
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