‘Ivy Rowe’ coming to Brundidge

Published 7:30 pm Saturday, May 16, 2009

“Ivy Rowe,” the one-woman play adapted from the Lee Smith novel, “Fair and Tender Ladies,” and featuring Barbara Bates Smith will be presented by the Brundidge Historical Society at the We Piddle Around Theater in Brundidge on June 11 and 12.

A Ladies Luncheon performance will be at noon on June 11 and an old-fashioned box supper show will be at 7 p.m. on June 12.

“Ivy Rowe” recounts the passionate life of a spunky and free-spirited mountain woman with a decidedly sensuous nature and an appetite for a good story.

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Tickets will go on sale at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, May 20, at Rue’s Antiques in Brundidge or by phone at 334-735-3125. After May 20, tickets will be available at Rue’s and by telephone between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays.

Tickets for each performance are $20 and include a meal and pre-show music by Amanda Porter at the noon performance and the WPA Scratch Band at the box supper show.

Dinah Kelsey, a member of the BHS storytelling committee, said the BHS presented “Birdell” a one-woman performance in June 2008 and it was so well received that a decision was made to make the summer shows an annual event.

“Initially, the idea was to have a ladies’ luncheon performance only but so many people work and can’t come at noon,” Kelsey said. “So, we decided to try a Friday night box supper show. And, too, ‘Ivy Rowe’ is a performance that will be enjoyed as much by men as the ladies.

“Ivy Rowe,” the play, has been at the Shakespeare Festival twice so a lot of people are familiar with Ivy Rowe through it and so many people are fans of novelist Lee Smith that there should be a lot of interest in Barbara Bates Smith’s performance of this popular character.”

Barbara Bates Smith has done “Ivy Rowe” so many times that she’s stopped counting.

“I’ve loved it every time,” Smith said. “I’ve never understood the unusually strong connection I felt from first reading about this mountain woman. Maybe it was because my hometown of Jasper, Alabama is in the foothills of the Appalachian range.” Smith has performed “Ivy Rowe” in New York, Utah, Texas and throughout the Southeast. She has performed often in Florida but only once in Alabama. “I did a performance of Ivy Rowe in Birmingham but that was a decade ago so I’ll be especially thrilled to get back to Alabama,” said Smith who now calls North Carolina home. “I’m eager, too, to see what this We Piddle Around Theater is like. It sounds unique. I’m glad that it’s in a rather rural area because Ivy is rural. But New Yorkers love Ivy, too. Most everybody loves Ivy. She is the richest character that I have run across in any dramatic literature. I think that’s why performing Ivy Rowe both ‘grounds’ me and ‘lifts me up.’ Ivy looks life in the face, says yes to it, makes some mistake but keeps on keeping on.”

Smith’s performance is underscored with hammered and lap dulcimer music by Jeff Sebens of Cana, Virginia.

While Smith was performing Ivy Rowe as a one woman show Off-Broadway, she wished for a live musician instead of a soundtrack. “I ran into Jeff when I was performing at the Cherry Orchard Theater near his home,” Smith said. “I was thrilled to know he played dulcimers and, at the next show that I did, he filled in ‘for fun’ and it worked out so easily. Since I was doing mostly Lee Smith material, his music was a ‘natural fit,’ as Jeff put it. We have enjoyed combining our skills for nine years now.”