Sean Grennan discusses his two upcoming shows at the American Heartland Theatre.
Playwright and actor Sean Grennan has a sort of artistic love affair with the American Heartland Theatre. He acted in the role of Adam for the fall 2003 production of The Diaries of Adam and Eve. During the first two months of 2005, he found himself back in Kansas City and on the Heartland stage in Affluenza! He then took to the stage on The Love List during the fall of 2010. In the world of the playwright, Grennan and Leah Okimoto have premiered three musicals at the American Heartland Theatre: Married Alive, 2006; and A Dog’s Life and Another Night Before Christmas, both in 2007.
Paul Hough, the producing director at the American Heartland Theatre, reached out to Grennan when Hough needed an actor to play Adam. “We were barely acquaintances, but I did a video audition and got the job.” Hough has also encouraged the writing bug, Grennan says. Grennan is a Midwestern by birth and by heart. Well, Grennan just can’t stay away … two of his plays will have world premieres again as part of this 25th season of the American Heartland Theatre. First up, Beer For Breakfast runs Jan. 6 to Feb. 19. He then returns for the May 4 to June 17 run of As Long As We Both Shall Live.
“Comedies are more my bent,” he says, “and it’s a good thing that they like to do comedies at the Heartland. Like any writer, you have to consider your audience so I am glad to be writing for the American Heartland. It’s an excellent situation to have two shows going up during the first half of the year. Some writers work on a show for 10 years. It has been a great collaboration and I enjoy working with Paul. He has been a great mentor and friend. In over 30 years, I’ve never worked with a director who does comedy better than he does.”
Beer for Breakfast stars Scott Cordes, Cathy Barnett and Martin English. Grennan also takes on a role. “I was definitely writing for Scott and Cathy. I often get a sort of writer’s crush on actors. I appreciate the Heartland and that sort of homegrown work they promote in the choice of actors and plays. Some theaters wait on New York, but the Heartland seems to want the new works. When my shows like Married Alive make the circuit to 30 productions around the United States and Canada, everyone knows that the show originated in Kansas City.”
He worked with Martin English in Affluenza! Grennan then wanted to specifically write for Martin too. The show centers on a “guys’ weekend” with four middle-aged friends. They want to enjoy old music, cheap beer and enough cholesterol to stop Superman’s heart. Unfortunately, one friend is absent, but his wife arrives and throws a wrench in the weekend.
The second show, As Long As We Both Shall Live – A Mystery Farce, looks at that comedic mystery that uses a wedding as a backdrop. “I was trying to think of a sort of Sherlock Holmes, Miss Jane Marple and Hercule Poirot rolled into one and came up with Addison Ashe, a brilliant character who can do just about anything, physically and mentally.” Unfortunately her mother-in-law hates her and the wedding planner has been murdered. For the premiere, Jessalyn Kincaid takes a run at Addison.