During opening weekend of Orcas Center’s next production, playwright Cricket Daniel will be in the audience to watch her work about the bond of friendship and the heartache of first love portrayed by island actors.
“Audiences can expect to relate to the characters, laugh their butts off and shed a few tears. They are in for a ride,” Daniel said. “And it’s not a chick play. Men are loving this play. For the first time they get to be a fly on the wall and see what these women talk about. They are talking about sex, men, bodies — they aren’t talking about their grandchildren.”
“The Lost Virginity Tour” will be presented in Orcas Center’s Black Box on Sept. 12-14 and 19-21 at 7:30 p.m. A 2 p.m. matinee is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 15. Tickets range in price from $15 to $25 to $47 at www.orcascenter.org. It is rated PG-13. The Black Box only seats 60 so attendees are encouraged to purchase tickets ahead of time.
The production stars Sandi Burt, Mia Harrison, Luann Pamatian and Lisa Spesard. On Sept. 14, audience members can participate in a “talk back” after the show with Daniel, director Bill Alsdurf and the cast.
According to the play’s synopsis, “Happy Trails Senior Resort Living in Surprise, Arizona is where the ladies of the Happy Trails Baking Club meet weekly, swapping desserts and recipes. But when these four friends start swapping stories about their “first time,” one of them bakes up an idea: to take a road trip across the country, revisiting each location where they lost their virginities. Tears, laughter, memories and secrets are all revealed as each lady shares the details about her first time. Will revisiting the past alter their futures?”
Alsdurf was very involved in the theatre community in Bend, Oregon, which is also where Daniel lives, until he moved to Orcas to teach at the elementary school last year. Daniel debuted “The Lost Virginity Tour” in the winter of 2018 at the 2nd Street Theatre, and Alsdurf was her stage manager.
“He was one of the best stage managers I’ve ever had for one of my shows,” she said. “I am so humbled he chose my play to direct at Orcas Center. I can’t think of anyone better to direct it. I would love to see his fingerprints all over it. I am really excited to see his take on it.”
Alsdurf said he knows and loves the material so well that it was an easy choice for him to direct.
“I’ve directed a lot of shows with kids, and I wanted my first show with adults to be on the smaller side,” he said.
Alsdurf says that besides the mature themes of “The Lost Virginity Tour,” directing adult actors is very similar to leading children.
“Adults still need redirection now and again,” he laughed. “It’s maybe a little easier to keep their focus, depending on what night of the week it is and if they’ve been working all day.”
Auditions were held this past February, which gave the cast members plenty of time to become close.
“The ladies have definitely had a chance to bond, which is very important for the show and do a believable performance as friends,” Alsdurf said. “You always want a play to be relatable on some level. Every adult who sees the show will have a virginity story. This presents a funny and sometimes poignant way of looking at giving that away to someone and how it affects the rest of your life – as Dolly Parton says in ‘Steel Magonolias’ – ‘laughter through years is my favorite emotion.’”
“The Lost Virginity Tour” has played to audiences up and down the west coast as well as in New York and Florida, and was a “pick of the week” by the LA Times. It was also a finalist in the ScreenCraft Stage Play Competition and the Henley Rose Playwright Competition for Women. Daniel has seen nearly all of the productions of her most recent work, and says it’s “fun to see all the different portrayals.”
“It’s resonating with so many people across the board, and I haven’t felt that as a playwright before,” she said.
Alsdurf predicts the show is going to continue its trajectory of popularity.
“I wanted to make sure I could do this in my new Orcas community before it got too expensive and too big,” he said.
Daniel holds a theater degree from UC Santa Barbara and studied Shakespeare in Cambridge, England. She has an extensive background in improvisation, stand-up and theater. She is a 2012 recipient of an “Arts, Beautification, and Culture Award” for her contribution to Portland, Oregon theater and is a member of The Dramatist Guild of America. She is the author of seven full-length plays.
She was inspired to write her latest work by her own friends – although none of the storylines are based on their experiences. Daniel was in downtown Bend around the holidays, handing out flyers for one of her plays, when she ran into a few girlfriends. One said she was going home to San Luis Obispo for Christmas, and Daniel proclaimed, “That’s where I lost my virginity!” They all started chiming in with stories of their “first time,” which Daniel said was “hysterical.” The group agreed that it should be her next play.
“The characters and the story lines immediately started coming into my head,” Daniel said. “I had virtually the whole play in my head and outlined by that evening. I didn’t know how special it was until it started catching on like wildfire. Of all my plays, this has given me the most attention … it has these humongous, leading roles for women of a certain age. As a former actress, I would have been chomping at the bit to play one of these women. … they are all very different women who bond over baking goods and then virginity stories.”