Lakewood opens with Nice Girls Don’t

The cast of Nice Girls Don’t in its world premiere at Lakewood Theatre.

Nashville’s longest-running community theatre venue, Lakewood Theatre in Old Hickory, presents the world premiere of the comedy Nice Girls Don’t on April 19. An original play by Cumberland University professor Michael Rex, Nice Girls Don’t is an outrageously witty farce in the tradition of Oscar Wilde replete with misunderstandings, mistaken identities and unintentional bedlam giving way to true love in the end.

Unlike most community theatres, Lakewood has instituted a program of producing at least one original play per year by a local playwright. Often the best writing talent is not to be found in New York or LA, so my hat is off to Lakewood for taking a chance on unproduced playwrights and being a trendsetter. I’ve read the script of Nice Girls Don’t, and I’m sure that Lakewood will be rewarded for its confidence in playwright Rex with appreciative audiences and a lucrative return at the box office.

Nice Girls Don’t focuses on the perils of just what happens when the person you fall in love with isn’t who they claim to be, and hinges on the consequences young people face when rebelling against familial pressure. So let’s just say your family is insistent that you marry a well-heeled friend in order to inherit your family’s money? And you’re basically ‘okay’ with that—except that the night before you meet your soul mate. Whoops.

Suddenly getting what you want instead of what you need is hard—but it can also be really funny. Two people (who have been single for a lot longer than their families wanted them to be) are set on a path to marriage. But realizing there may be resistance, ‘Granddad’ uses their respective desires as bait. The night before they each meet someone else and fall in love, not realizing that the soul mate they just met was the person Granddad had picked for them. We then get to sit back and watch them squirm.

Nice Girls Don’t started its life as a short play, but the characters refused to quit until their story had been told fully. Written for the now defunct 5-Points Theatre Company, the play marks the second original play produced for Michael Rex since he moved to Tennessee in 2006. He started writing the play in the fall of 2009 at the request of one of the actors involved with 5-Points Theatre. Nice Girls Don’t was finished by Spring 2010, but 5-Points Theatre Company had ceased to exist by then. After some significant editing, the play was submitted to Lakewood Theatre Company where it was considered for the 2012 season, and selected as Lakewood’s Original Production for the 2013 season.

Treg Miles and Jennifer Bennett star as the love smitten couple, Duncan and Julia, with Matthew Smith and Lauren Pratt as their respective best friends and co-conspirators, Josh and Katherine. David Minerley and Heather Alexander round out the cast as Julia’s parents, JD and Mae. Iris Mattawan plays Duncan’s sarcastic Aunt Bev. Lauren Moore is Amber, Duncan and Josh’s friend who unwittingly blows everyone’s cover.

Nice Girls Don’t was written by Michael Rex, an associate professor of English at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tenn. and the head of the Creative Writing Program there. He has appeared on stage in numerous productions including The Signal Season of Dummy Hoy, Don’t Mention My Name, and Peter Pan at Lakewood Theatre; Kiss Me, Kate, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and Sweet Charity at Keeton Theatre; Southern Fried Funeral and The Toby Show at the Spiritual Performing Arts Ministry in Lebanon; and Bug, Last Day of Judas Iscariot, and The Book of Liz at Out Front on Main in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

The technical talent behind this production of Nice Girls Don’t includes set design by Ryan Vogal, lighting design by Angela Goodwin, and sound design by Kurt Grabenstein.

Nice Girls Don’t also marks the Tennessee directorial debut of Barbara S. Hartman. After serving in the U.S. military and earning degrees in theatre at the University of Hawaii and South Dakota, Barbara ‘Bunny’ Hartman earned a significant reputation as a director, actor, and stage manager in Houston, Texas before moving to Nashville in 2011. She is especially well known for directing original shows, bringing them to life with spirit and vigor.

Nice Girls Don’t runs the weekends April 19–May 5 at Lakewood Theatre, 2211 Old Hickory Blvd., Old Hickory, Tenn. Tickets are available at www.ticketsnashville.com or by calling 615-847-9934 for reservations.