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Local performers team up with LA actor in a new work
By JULI GOETZ MORSER
When the staged reading of the play “Billyboy” hits the boards as the next performance in Vashon Allied Arts New Works Series, audience members will have a chance to give direct feedback not only to a former Hollywood screenwriter but also a current Hollywood star.
Adapted from his novel by the same name, “Billyboy” is the brainchild of Bill Wood, known to islanders as The Jazz Guy on Voice of Vashon and a former member of the Church of Great Rain. What many residents may not know about Wood in his former life as a distinguished Hollywood screenwriter.
While living in the Hollywood hills, Wood wrote the story of Billyboy about down-and-out cowboy Gil Werby and his best friend Brownie who make a mad-capped trek from Las Vegas to the Chicago stockyards on a mission to rescue the beloved horse named Billyboy, which Werby rode to fame in the 1947 rodeo.
Wood, who wrote many TV episodes for “The Fugitive,” admitted this drama is “an anomaly in my work. It’s mostly funny, really quite funny,” he said.
Fans of TV’s “Deadwood,” “Supernatural” and “Breaking Bad” will recognize Los Angeles actor Jim Beaver reading the role of Brownie, the character who narrates the wild odyssey he makes with Werby, played by local actor Paul Shapiro.
Along the way, the two best friends meet a variety of quirky folks, read by many well-known Vashon performers, including Jeff and Cindy Hoyt, Susan McCabe, Jeanne Dougherty, Marshall Murray, Jon Whalen, Chaim Rosemarin, Michael Barker and Bill West, with music by Luke McQuillin.
Islander Charlotte Tiencken, a longtime friend of Wood and the managing director of Book-It Repertory Theater in Seattle, directs the reading and said she sees great potential for bringing “Billyboy” to full production. The process to get there, according to Tiencken, begins with the public reading.
“New pieces often are presented as a kind of workshop production that leads to various rewrites,” she said. “The audience’s response is part of the process. We want to hear what the audience thinks.”
“Billyboy” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 22 and 23, at the Blue Heron. Tickets, $12 and $16, are available at www.vashonalliedarts.org and the Heron’s Nest.