Southern-fried Kudzu opens soon
By Katie Scarvey
Bypass. A town with a name like that doesn’t sound like it would be the center of much of anything. But award-winning editorial cartoonist Doug Marlette made the mythical town a comic destination in his beloved strip “Kudzu.”
Called “a town so backward even the Episcopalians handle snakes,” Bypass is home to such unforgettable characters as pastor Will Be Dunn and Nasal T. Lardbottom.
It’s a place many Southerners can relate to.
Marlette’s comic universe will come to life next week at the Meroney Theatre in “Kudzu: A Southern Musical.”
For Piedmont Players director Reid Leonard, the show, with its many North Carolina connections, was an obvious choice.
Marlette was born in Greensboro and lived for a time in Durham.
He collaborated on “Kudzu: A Southern Musical” with his friends Jack Herrick and Bland Simpson of the Red Clay Ramblers ó who have performed on stage at the Meroney Theatre.
The show promises great comedy, great music and some interesting scenery, including a 1949 Oldsmobile on loan from Danny Shaw at Sudden Impact.
“Kudzu” is the story of a boy who comes of age against the backdrop of a changing American South. Kudzu Dubose ó played by CaLeb Hilló is an 18-year-old who wants to be a writer. He inherits some land in Bypass from his father, a trampoline salesman who abandoned him at a young age. Should he keep the land or sell it to a businessman who promises to transform Bypass into a town deserving of an exit?
Marlette, who died in a car accident several years ago while on his way to help some high school students prepare for a performance of “Kudzu,” was a southerner through and through. After graduating from Florida State University, he began drawing political cartoons for The Charlotte Observer in 1972. He joined the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 1987, New York Newsday in 1989, the Tallahassee Democrat in 2002 and the Tulsa World in 2006.
“Kudzu: A Southern Musical” was first produced at Duke University.
PPT will perform “Kudzu” at the Meroney Theatre Nov. 12-14 and 18-21 at 7:30 p.m.and Nov. 15 at 2:30 p.m. The Box Office will be open to the public on Nov. 9. Call 704-633-5471 for more information or to make ticket reservations.