Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Play Exposes Behavior, Antics of Star-Struck Fans

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Play Exposes Behavior, Antics of Star-Struck Fans

Article excerpt

Byline: TAMARA MCCLARAN

The fascination with celebrities often has an impact on many lives, including the characters of a Southern-styled comedy opening the Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre's 15th season. Seeing Stars in Dixie by Ron Osborne opens Friday, Sept. 8.

The play is set in Natchez, Miss., during the 1956 filming of Raintree County starring Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift. The locals gather in Clemmie's Tea Room to sip tea and keep up with the gossip. Interest heightens when it is announced that one local will be chosen for a role in the movie. The fun begins as they vie for the coveted role.

For anyone who has witnessed the activity surrounding a movie production filming on location, such as G.I. Jane or Tigerland in Jacksonville, the play may hit close to home. Director Patsy Butler recalled what happened when the movies Grass Harp and Tim Burton's Big Fish were filmed near her former Alabama home.

"The people in Wetumpka acted just as silly as the characters in this show about seeing celebrities," Butler said.

Although this is Butler's first show with ABET, she is no stranger to community theater. She has a long history with the Wetumpka Depot Players, where she was artistic director. The Alabama community theater started in 1980 with a small group looking to have fun and has grown into a successful 160-seat theater with its own building offering a full season of shows and children's programs.

About three months ago, Butler moved to St. Augustine to be closer to her relatives, who share her love of theater. Her daughter, Beth Lambert, is artistic director of the Limelight Theatre in St. Augustine.

ABET Artistic Director Barbara Evans also has ties to Alabama and has known Butler for years. Evans recruited Butler to direct Seeing Stars in Dixie. Butler says she has assembled a cast that includes many familiar faces that have appeared on Beaches theater stages. …

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