“High Strangeness” is the penultimate comedy in the Pioneer Playhouse season, and it is a show that is based on actual events. It is the theater’s annual offering in the “Kentucky Voices” series.
Written by local playwright Elizabeth Orndorff, “High Strangeness” is inspired by goings-on in Stanford in 1976. Then, three women claimed they were abducted by aliens. When the media latches on to the story, the three friends’ lives and friendships are “thrown into chaos,” according to director J.C. Conway.
The central theme of the play, Conway added, is “the desire to be believed, and how far a person will go to achieve that.”
“It’s a unique and fascinating story, driven by rich characters and clever dialogue,” Conway explained. “That, and it’s a lot of fun.”
The players and cast include: Larnelle Riley, played by Patricia Hammond; Esther Pope, portrayed by New York actress Mary Hodges; Katie Nykanan in the role of Mene Seagraves; and Mark Ryan Anderson as Leonard Rousey.
Pioneer Playhouse Managing Director Robby Henson said the “the playhouse is the only theater in Kentucky dedicated to producing one play each season that speaks to Kentucky’s unique history and culture.”
“Of course, we have relied on the prolific Elizabeth Orndorff over the years to give our stage a talented Kentucky voice. We liked Liz’s theme for this play — that ‘High Strangeness’ focuses on a very local story that happened to recognizable and real women but makes it mythic. Each viewer could ask themselves what they would do if they felt they experienced something so mind-boggling that no one would believe them,” Henson explained.
Conway said “High Strangeness” is a “brilliant show about alien abduction.”
“(It’s inspired by a true event that happened a stone’s throw from Pioneer (Playhouse). How can you miss it?”
The play premiered at the West T. Hill Community Theatre in Danville two years ago to much acclaim. Pioneer Playhouse Managing Director Robby Henson says that “High Strangeness” is being brought back to Danville so soon due to “overwhelming popular demand.”
“Kentucky Voices” was initiated five years ago by the late Holly Henson, artistic director of Pioneer Playhouse. This unique program seeks to produce one new play a season by a Kentucky-based playwright that celebrates Kentucky’s history and culture. As part of this series, the Playhouse previously has produced Catherine Bush’s “A Jar Full of Fireflies,” about the making of the MGM extravaganza Raintree County in Danville, as well as Orndorff’s “Death by Darkness” and “The Dillinger Dilemma.”
Each night during intermission, audience members with memories of the 1976 Stanford UFO event or with close encounters of their own will be invited on stage to share their stories.
IF YOU GO
By local playwright Elizabeth Orndorff
Showtime: 8:30 p.m.; $16
Dinner and show: 7:30 p.m.; $28
Information: (859) 236-2747