@ [home], with Home * Town

By Tim Smith

Where A r [ts] Thou?

The @ home edition

My, that is a lot of ‘homes’ – a perfect segue into this week’s feature.

Now that the first of the major summer holidays are behind us, and with them, the early vacations have been completed, it may be time to start those at home projects, or at the very least, watch others complete theirs and catalogue away how they were completed for a rainy day.

Such has been the case for us as this ‘rainy’ summer, to date, has not afforded us the luxury of having too much time at home due to out of state travel.

To stay engaged, we have become big fans of the home ‘repurposing’ program, Home*Town, starring the charming and extremely talented Ben and Erin Napier from Laurel, Mississippi, who it would appear, are nearly singly handedly, “times two,” bringing homes and businesses up to new creative standards of affordable and contemporary living, with an even longer-range historic impact in their home town.

With an emphasis on the reuse/reshaping/recycling/renovation of much of what they use, their influence will continue to reverberate long after they move to newer endeavors.

We are also drawn to them because of their artistic focus, Erin is an accomplished painter, interior designer and decorator, bringing a sense of color and texture to every square inch of the new space, and that makes the program for more than simply a remodeling showcase.

Ben, a professional woodworker, brings the same passion to his contributions. For example, his stunning furniture, constructed from the wood taken out of the house they are currently remodeling, is that project’s capstone. Together, they are a creative force to be admired.

Finally, it is simply great fun to watch, as they are so personable, and they infuse that spirit into the team that supports them.

Artisans all, so take a look on your next rainy day at home. It is featured on HGTV.

Not too much to add on the Broadway reopening process, and while I was checking out the Playbill.com website, an excellent source for all things New York theater, they did offer a salute to the late Neil Simon, born on the 4th of July and who, over the course of a career that spanned the period from 1961-2003, was responsible for some 32 productions that ran on Broadway.

This does not begin to include his screenplays and other writings. Amazing creative output.

His list of plays includes, “The Odd Couple,” “Barefoot In The Park,” “Plaza Suite,” that will be revived during the upcoming Broadway season starring Matthew Broderick and wife Sarah Jessica Parker, as well as the book for musicals, “Sweet Charity,” “Little Me,” “They’re Playing Our Song” and “Promises, Promises.”

He would win the Pulitzer Prize for the play “Lost In Yonkers” in 1991.

Freelance writer Lawrence Grobel said this about Mr. Simon’s influence:

“Simon towers like a Colossus over the American Theater. When Neil Simon’s time comes to be judged among successful playwrights of the twentieth century, he will definitely be first among equals. No other playwright in history has had the run he has: fifteen “Best Plays” of their season.” [From Mr. Simon’s Wikipedia source]

One of my treasured possessions is a personal note, typed, from Mr. Simon, received in 1974, while he was putting the finishing touches on the play, “God’s Favorite.” In it he thanks me for dedicating the first play of all future theater seasons at the school where I was teaching drama to his work. To think, his early body of stage work was typed on the same typewriter that produced my note.

A very private man in a most public world, what made our brief encounter more meaningful is that just the year before, he had lost his wife, quite suddenly, to cancer. Something that he never truly recovered from. He ended the note with the following:

“It is my hope and desire to continue your “Neil Simon Comedy break” for many, many years to come as long as my inspiration and typewriter ribbon holds out. I hope doing my plays bring you pleasure and enjoyment.”

Enjoy seeing you in the “E”paper.

Remember, there is always an opening night.


[For EFA-62]

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