West T. Hill opens first play of season Friday

West T. Hill Community Theatre is kicking off its 2021-2022 season with the play “Bus Stop” by William Inge.

The show begins Friday and will show through Sept. 19, then again Sept 24-26.

Tickets are available for purchase on West T. Hill’s website, and performances are $13 each. The show is rated PG-13.

Karen Logue, director of the show and managing director of the theater, said the show is a “classic piece.” The theater did it about 20 years ago and wanted to revisit it with a fresh approach. It’s a play from the ‘50s — it opened in Broadway in 1955 — and there was a popular film adaptation with Marilyn Monroe at the helm, Logue said. But the play is quite different from the movie.

The movie left out some characters the play has, Logue said, and “All eight characters are just wonderful and very different.”

She also said seeing the play in an intimate setting like a small theater is effective.

According to West T. Hill’s website, the play takes place during a snow storm, and “a bus pulls up to a cheerful roadside diner.” A group of characters are stuck waiting for the storm to end and for the roads to be cleared.

“It’s just a beautiful representation of how people can or cannot get along when they’re stuck together in one room,” Logue said with a laugh. “Sort of like we’ve done with COVID for a while.”

Later, she said, “It’s a real sweet piece, and we’ve got a fantastic cast.”

The show features some newcomers in its cast, including Karen Tompkins, who is an educator in Boyle County and plays the character Grace, and Ian Birney, who has been in shows in Harrodsburg but is new to West T. Hill’s stage. He plays the character Bo. Logue said the theater loves to work with new people. There are also some veteran actors to the stage, including Dale Kihlman, who plays Will, and Katie Followell, who plays Cherie. Also on the cast are Steve Rinehart as Carl, Annie Sanders as Elma, Tom Johnson as Dr. Lyman and Brandon Long as Virgil.

Since Logue is directing the play, she said a piece of herself goes into every play she directs, and she’s had a vision for this play for a while because the theater has been thinking about putting on the play for a couple of years. She’s excited about the set, too, which she and a two of the theater’s board members put together.

“It’s just wonderful,” Logue said. “It looks like a 1950s diner from beginning to end.”

As for COVID-19 precautions, the cast is fully vaccinated and also wear masks during rehearsals. They have been careful with blocking and distancing on stage, and with just eight cast members, it’s worked out. During the show when their facial expressions are on display, they will wear face shields depending on the COVID-19 situation at the time.

The audience will be heavily encouraged to wear masks and socially distance when possible. Logue said the theater has been rehearsing carefully to make sure everyone stays safe.

“I certainly hope that we can be able to pull off the whole season,” she said. “With COVID being so fluid, this time last year, we were shut down, so we’re hopeful.”

The theater is sanitized between each performance, sanitizing stations will be all over the theater, and the cast doesn’t have a meet and greet line anymore. Announcements for COVID-19 precautions will be made “at curtain,” Logue said.

The rest of the season is planned out, and information and production dates can be found on West T. Hill’s website.