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Backyard slice-of-life finds home on stage

October 17, 2002|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

"Someday I'll be famous and I'll be back," Adam Jones recalls telling Michael Noll years ago.

Noll, now president of the board of directors of the Apollo Civic Theatre, worked with Jones years ago when the now 24-year-old actor-playwright-film producer was a kid in the Martinsburg, W.Va., theater's Youth Summer Theatre Workshop.

Jones will indeed be back at the Apollo Saturday, Oct. 19. He's working on being famous.

"Goodnight, Pig Dog," written by Jones, will be presented at 7 p.m.

The play first was performed in January 2001 at Fleetwood Stage, a small theater in New York. Jones says the play is neither comedy nor tragedy. "It's more like real life," he says.

"Goodnight, Pig Dog" is the story of two brothers and is set in West Virginia, a place where Jones sees a lot more family loyalty than in "everyman-for-himself" New York.

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Jones will portray Rusty Charon, a young man who uses a wheelchair. Since the death of their mother, Rusty takes care of his mentally handicapped younger brother, Tucker, who is the family breadwinner.

Justin Lane plays Tucker and calls "Goodnight, Pig Dog" a slice of life. There's humor and sadness. It can bring you to tears and have you laughing out loud, he says. "I love this play."

Jones says he and Lane have performed together in independent films, including "Cry Havoc," a World War II story that was a feature film finalist at 1999's Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

The pair also are partners in their own filmmaking enterprise - wildhack productions.

Jones says he doesn't want to present a moral message in his play. "I would rather pose a question than give a definite answer to an audience."

His job as playwright is to make that question entertaining and stimulating, he says. Jones has written short stories and is reworking a novel, but generally, he says, he writes screenplays, an outgrowth of his Bard College drama and literature major, with a concentration in film studies.

Jones got what Noll describes as "the bug" for drama when he was a teen. He had his first roles at the Apollo in "Oliver." Noll recalls him as Cornelius in "Hello Dolly." Jones was very good, he says.

"The stage was just a natural arena for him," says Carolyn Zwior, who directed Jones in dramatic productions at Martinsburg High School. Although she doesn't recall the name of the play, Zwior clearly remembers that a "very creative" Jones was named best actor at the state thespian festival in Charleston, W.Va., when he was a senior.

"He played a very old man," she says.

Jones also has kept in touch with other friends from his hometown. For a couple of years while they were in high school, Jones and Reece McClung were members of the Martinsburg-based band Moxie. Guitarist and composer McClung wrote "incidental" music for "Goodnight, Pig Dog."

"I tried to capture some of the dissonant elements without being too jarring," he says. He's looking forward to the Apollo production.

Noll wasn't able to get to New York for "Goodnight, Pig Dog's" debut, but he has read the script. "I really like it, he says.

A distant cousin, Noll has known Jones since the actor-playwright was a little kid. Jones is the first Youth Summer Theatre Workshop alumnus to come back and perform one of his own plays, Noll says.

"I'm excited and at the same time, absolutely terrified, " Jones says.

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