final production of the 2003-04 season for the Department of Theatre
and Dance at The University of Southern Mississippi will be Bruce
Graham's Early One Evening at the Rainbow Bar and Grill, a
comic tale about the end of the world. The show opens April 22 and
runs through May 2 in the Gilbert F. Hartwig Theatre.
bombs destroy the United States, the working-class patrons of a
small bar in the coal regions of Pennsylvania hash out their options
for their last few hours on earth--until a rather calm visitor arrives
and makes a strange offer. In the midst of the ensuing silliness,
six characters cope with the trials and tribulations they face on
the verge of apocalypse. Billed as a "serio-comedy," the
play may deal with a very grim premise, but the script is filled
with lots of humor.
is about the faith we must have in each other to make it through
the hardest, as well as the sweetest, of times," according
to director Andy Elliott, a theater graduate student from Thibodaux,
Evening at the Rainbow Bar and Grill premiered in December 1986
at the Philadelphia Festival Theatre for New Plays, where Graham
is currently playwright-in-residence and interim artistic director.
WPA Theatre in New York City subsequently produced the play.
plays include Moon over the Brewery; Burkie; Minor Demons; Devious
Means; Belmont Avenue Social Club; Top of the World; The Champagne
Charlie Stakes; A Very Nice Neighborhood; and Desperate Affection.
In addition to his playwriting credits, he co-wrote the recent film
Dunston Checks In, starring Jason Alexander and Faye Dunaway,
and the animated feature Anastasia with Meg Ryan and Angela
compared to playwright Neil Simon, Graham has a knack for turning
ordinary situations into the stuff of comedy. Audiences often see
how he uses comedy to cut to the core of some of the fundamental
issues of human nature--in the words of the playwright, "the
stupidity and greed of people in general."
In a 1986 interview,
Graham summed up the theme of Early One Evening at the Rainbow
Bar and Grill, by noting, "It all comes down to human decency
and common sense to keep us from wiping ourselves out."
play is not the first one produced at Southern Miss. His play Moon
over the Brewery was a hit in the department's Southern Arena
Theatre's summer 2001 season.
Scott Reeves (scenic) of Chalmette, La., Eric Griffis (costumes)
of Camden, Ark., and Laura Happel (lighting) of Owego, N.Y., are
responsible for developing the atmosphere of the bar and its habitués.
now on sale at the Southern Miss Ticket Office. The show runs at
7:30 p.m. nightly April 22-24 and April 28-May 1 and at 2 p.m. May
$10 for general admission, $8 for Southern Miss faculty and staff
and senior citizens, and $6 for students. To purchase tickets, call
the Southern Miss Ticket Office at (601) 266-5418 or (800) 844-8425
or order online at www.usm.edu/tickets.