CY spouses perform at Theatre Memphis
By Randall Hartzog
Picnic by William Inge will open at Theatre Memphis April 29 and run through May 15. An American stage classic, Picnic follows the events of a young, handsome drifter who promises romance and happiness and becomes involved with two sisters. His magnetism drives a wedge between them that may ultimately tear the family apart. Suspicion, lies, and jealousy create tension during an otherwise celebratory Labor Day weekend.
Lead roles at Theatre Memphis in Picnic are played by John Moore and Melissa Walker Moore. Husband and wife and Cooper-Young residents in real life, they portray the star-crossed lovers Hal Carter and Madge Owens on stage. “The show is about the moments in life that change who and where you are,” says husband Moore. “The attraction felt between Hal and Madge the moment they meet speaks to the romantic in everyone. It’s that kind of passion that must be acted upon, even though it’s so startling and new that neither character knows its reasons, origin, or even what to do with it. And it’s most certainly a realistic pull, because it’s exactly the kind of chemistry that Melissa and I experienced when we met.”
Walker Moore admits the tension is all too familiar. ”Being married makes depicting the roles of strangers more of a challenge,” she says. “But emoting a mutual feeling of immediate attraction that cannot be denied is something to which we can definitely relate. I think that the sort of passion we share is rare and radiates into our roles. Audiences are drawn to couples on stage in a similar way that we are all drawn to examples of love and passion blooming in real life. I think audiences will appreciate the depth we bring to Hal and Madge knowing that the love we share is real.”
Director Jerry Chipman says he cast the roles blindly. ”It just so happens they are married. Maybe their audition was so good because they were comfortable with each other.” He continues, “In the play, they’re strangers meeting for the first time and feeling an undeniable attraction. So maybe the chemistry they brought to their auditions did provide an advantage. But on stage, they completely step aside from themselves to delve into the characters of Hal and Madge, and the characters are nothing like John and Melissa – except they’re attractive, vibrant, and have distinctive personalities. It all works for them and makes for a great dynamic on stage.”
Performance dates for Picnic are April 29 – May 15. Shows are at 7:30pm on Thursdays (and Wednesday, May 11) and 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays, with matinees on Sundays at 2pm. Tickets are $23 for adults and $15 for students with a valid ID. Call 901-682-8323 to purchase tickets or go online to theatrememphis.org. Theatre Memphis is located at 630 Perkins Extended, at the corner of Perkins and Southern.