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Theatre Albany takes on Texas-sized tale

Betty Vaughan Sweat, left, and Joy Johnson rehearse a scene in the upcoming “Getting Frankie Married — And Afterwards” at the Albany Theatre. The play opens Friday.

Betty Vaughan Sweat, left, and Joy Johnson rehearse a scene in the upcoming “Getting Frankie Married — And Afterwards” at the Albany Theatre. The play opens Friday.

ALBANY — On Friday, Theatre Albany will open a two-weekend run of “Getting Frankie married — And Afterwards” by Horton Foote, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright whose work is getting more and more familiar to Albany audiences.

Foote, who died in 2009, won the Pulitzer Prize for “The Young Man From Atlanta.” He also won two Academy Awards for a pair of memorable screenplays — “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “tender Mercies.”

“This will be the third Horton Foote play we have produced,” observed Mark Costello, the Theatre Albany artistic director, “’Dividing the Estate’ was two years ago and ‘The Trip to Bountiful’ was in 2003.

“I think the element that draws me to his work is his characters.”

Many of those characters are based on people the playwright knew growing up in Wharton, Texas, and his admiration for the human spirit is can be seen throughout his works. In an interview, Foote stated, “I’ve known people that the world has thrown everything at to discourage them, to kill them, to break their spirit. And yet something about them retains a dignity. They face life and they don’t ask quarters.”

Set in Harrison, Texas, “Getting Frankie Married ...” concerns Frankie Lewis, a traditional girl from a traditional town who has been leading an non-traditional life. For more than two decades, she has been Fred’s girlfriend, and though she longs to be married, Fred has never asked — until now.

Why the change of heart? Fred’s mother may be dying and she would like to see her son married before she goes. But that’s only part of the reason. There’s the other embarrassing matter of another woman, a younger woman, who is suing Fred because she claims to have quit her job after Fred proposed to her.

“I think our audiences would be struck by the similarities between Wharton and Albany,” Costello said. “Both are primarily agricultural, with major crops being pecans and cotton. His plays may be set in Texas, but the themes are universal.”

Featured in the cast are Kelly Mullins as Frankie, Bill Mackenzie as Fred, Joy Johnson as Mrs. Willis and Sara Mackenzie as Helen Vaught. Also featured are Betty Vaughan Sweat as Mae, Kate Funk as Laverne, Leigh Ann Young as Constance, Kathleen Stroup as Isabel, Jennifer Kirk Bowers as Georgia Dale, Stepehn Syfrett as Carlton Gleason and Ray Johnson as S.P.

Mary Lou Beasley is the stage manager and is being assisted by Becky Parker. Stephen G. Felmet has designed the set, Sarah Donnan has assisted with the costumes, Ann Brim Streat and Karen McNally are in charge of makeup, Alex Donnan is handling sound and Kimberly Lawson is manning the light board.

Performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Other performances will be at 8 p.m. Feb. 7-9 and 2:30 p.m. Feb. 10. Tickets may be purchased by calling the box office at (229) 439-7141. The theater is located at 514 Pine Ave.