Langford Wilson was born in Lebanon, Missouri and lived there with his mother after his parents divorced. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1980 for "Talley's Folly," about Sally Talley's unheard of engagement to a man of the Jewish persuasion over her family's strong objections. "Fifth of July" garnered him a Tony Award for Best Play nomination.
In "Fifth of July," the story centers around Ken Talley, Jr. (Matthew Skwiot) who has been injured in the Vietnam War and uses prosthetic limbs for legs. Even though he has signed a contract to teach high school English, he questions his own abilities to be effective in the classroom. He lives with his male life partner Jed (Sean Sterling-Granado), who is a botanist and doubles as a caregiver for Ken.
When the play opens, their farmhouse home may be on the market. Soon family members arrive, each with his own agenda. Old friends John (Tom Pepper) and his drug addled wife Gwen (Sally Arlette-Garcia) want to buy the place to make her a music studio to advance her career as a country western singer. Ken's unmarried sister June (Elizabeth Hill Bohmier) marches in with her precocious teenage daughter Shirley (Tess Pepper) and their contentious relationship is tested. The family matriarch Sally (Barbara Gallow) comes bearing a candy box filled with her late husband's year old ashes, with the intention of scattering them somewhere appropriate. Completing the circle of characters is Gwen's guitarist Wes (Alexander Levine) for whom Shirley has taken a shine. Everyone has secrets. A bidding war for the house ensues and in the space of two days everyone ends up in a different and, for some, better place.
Expect fireworks for its Independence Day and the fourth and fifth of July and director Kelly DiMauro manages the emotional explosions quite well.
For tickets ($20, students and seniors $15), call 860-229-3049 or online at www.hitw.org. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. The theater is located in downtown New Britain at 116 Main Street and free parking is available in the garage on Chestnut Street.
Come get involved in the Talley family's unorthodox holiday celebration and discover if the rockets are a red, white and blue festival of failure or of fun.