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Grove Writers Present Their Works to Appreciative Audience Late in Season
Photo by Bruce-Michael Gelbert
(left to right) actors Susan Freedner, Sherri Rase & Ruth Freedner & writers Joyce Yaeger, Jack Dowling & Dan Clancy

The second annual reading by Cherry Grove writers from their works took place before a sizeable, appreciative audience, at the Grove Firehouse on the afternoon of September 27. Jack Dowling, Dan Clancy and Joyce Yaeger were the writers, who excited us with their efforts.

After Joyce introduced the program, Jack read "Manlio," a bittersweet short story, set in Rome, during the summer, about an American artist's encounters with the eponymous handsome and increasingly experienced young hustler from Trieste.

Dan and Joyce presented excerpts from longer works-in-progress, which whetted our appetites for their creations in their entirety.

Dan presented two scenes from "Our Time," a musical for which he wrote book and lyrics and Lynn Portas composed music. Sherri Rase played Franny (Francesca), a school nurse from Crawfordsville, Indiana, who takes a vacation in Pittsburgh with two colleagues. In the first of the scenes, Franny and her mother, portrayed by Susan Freedner, engaged in a contentious conversation, in which Franny broke the news to her mother, as the older woman obsessed over the tribulations of soap opera characters, about leaving for a few days. In a reflective ballad, Sherri's Franny mused that, despite the growing distance between the pair, "Sometimes when I look into the mirror/I see mother's face."

The other scene was set in Maggie's Place, a lesbian bar in Pittsburgh, where Franny came out to another person-Ruth Freedner as the bartender Maria, Maggie's long-time lover and, now, survivor-for the first time. Ruth's Maria reassured her nervous customer with a gentle song, "You just know," about being gay, continuing, "It's just who I am and what I'm meant to be." With lyricism and determination, Sherri then sang Franny's proud coming out song, "Time to change things," resolving, "This is my time ... the time is now."

Joyce gripped us with the first chapter of her as-yet-untitled murder mystery, set in Cherry Grove. Kyra goes for a pre-dawn jog in the Sunken Forest, the setting peaceful, but unusually ominous, and comes upon the dead body of a young woman. Could a murderer be observing her? At home, Kyra and her lover, Lex (Alexandra), call 911, but on returning to the scene of the crime, get attitude from all the police officers, except Lt. Moran, a good-looking policewoman.

Jack rounded out the program with "Dirty Movie," brief and witty, about Alex, who, in his mind, in the course of his daily routine, casts the pornographic film he wants to make.

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