There is a certain buzz backstage at Theatre Macon as the cast and crew prepares for their latest production, “Becky’s New Car.” Written by Steven Dietz, this comedy tells the tale of a middle-aged woman who experiences a mid-life crisis and ponders what she is doing with her life.
“[Becky] is in some ways a typical middle-aged woman,” explains actress and professor at Mercer University’s Townsend School of Music, Martha Malone. “She has a grown child, a lengthy marriage, and she is bored with her life. She is wondering what is next in her life.”
Of course, mid-life crises are nothing new to the theatre, television, or movies, but this play has several unique elements that not only make it stand out, but also make it more enjoyable to partake in. Just ask Matt Roche, a Mercer alumni who plays Steve, a man who lost his wife in a hiking accident.
“In media, we tend to see men buy a new convertible or run off with their secretary,” says Roche. “You reach a certain age and you start to feel invisible.”
Gender role reversal is not the only thing that makes the play more interesting, however.
“Dietz often breaks the fourth wall. Becky will bring people on stage and help with her costume changes. It is really a ride!” says Roche.
A “ride” is perhaps the best way to describe the play, as that is how every actor referred to it. One of the biggest reasons is the unique characters. Just ask veteran actor Tom Morris, who’s performance in “Becky’s New Car” as millionaire Walter Flood marks his 52nd production with Theatre Macon.
“It’s surprisingly investive. You get invested in these characters in everyday life,” says Morris. “Walter is a widower. [His wife] gave him stability and took care of the trivial things like buying gifts. He is lost without her.”
“Steve suffers from disphoria and is absolutely crazy,” laughs Roche when asked about his character. “He wears business casual, but wears hiking boots. He hasn’t taken them off since his wife died in a bizarre hiking accident. The last time something caught him off guard, his wife fell off a mountain”
Despite the play being about a middle-aged woman experiencing a mid-life crisis, Morris and the rest of the cast believes that there is a lot to be enjoyed by all audiences, especially college students.
“Every character in the play changes by the end,” explains Morris. “The age that a young man or woman transitions from living with their parents to living away from home is a big change. You are going through a big transition.”
Just because there are lessons to be learned, however, does not mean the play is not a fun one to watch.
“It’s a fun date play. See it with a group of people so you can laugh when one of your friends gets pulled up on stage!” remarks Roche.
“This is the funniest play I have been in. I’ve never heard [the audience] laughing so much,” says Morris.
Considering the first night ran 30 minutes longer than the final dress rehearsal solely from waiting for the audience to stop laughing, Morris is probably not exaggerating.
Theatre Macon’s dedication to putting on great shows is what makes it different than most community theaters around the country.
This is especially important when considering the theatre’s collaboration with the artistic sections of Macon and the city’s colleges
“It’s just a wonderful collaboration with groups like Young Actors’ Company,” explains Malone.
“[Director] Jim Crisp is so generous, as is the theatre. It’s more than what you see tonight. It’s a big force in the artistic market of Macon.”