The times, trials and triumphs of a small-town newspaper get a comedic touch in “Stop the Press,” a play in two acts presented Sept. 24 through Sept. 26 by the NoneSuch Playmakers.
The paper in question is the Zephyr, a struggling thrice-weekly publication owned and edited by Tess Cortland (Angela Llewellyn) and operating out of the fictional coastal town of Belle Port, Maryland. The year is 2014. Like too many local newspapers in the digital age, the Zephyr’s future is uncertain. Tess is determined to make the paper work, whatever it takes.
She is aided in her efforts by her dedicated if sometimes misguided staff: senior reporter Madeleine Shaw (Jane Tucker), a veteran journalist and former hippie; rising young reporter Diana Lovejoy (Olivia Jessup), Tess’ protégée; Tom “D-Dog” Dancewicz (Brian Greene), an old-school sportswriter with an unhealthy lifestyle and a “beverage problem”; Sales Manager Bobby Brill (William Carpenter), whose youthful enthusiasm keeps him in trouble with Tess most of the time; and newbie office manager Sophie Reinhardt (Madison Mallory), an aspiring reporter who has the unenviable task of riding herd on this motley crew.
The Zephyr’s main competition is the Chronicle, a larger, well-funded newspaper that has set its sights on the Belle Port market. To make matters worse for Tess, the Chronicle’s top reporter is her personal nemesis Candice Quartermain (Angela Bryant), the daughter of the big paper’s publisher.
The plot of “Stop the Press” really takes off when a major political scandal breaks in Belle Port and the Zephyr gets the scoop. Finally, the embattled little paper has the story that will put it on the map and give Tess a satisfying victory over Candice. But just as their victory seems assured, a member of the Zephyr team reveals a stunning secret that could turn that thrill of victory to the agony of defeat. Is there a happy ending? Of course there is. This is a comedy, after all.
“Stop the Press” was written by NoneSuch co-founder Brack Llewellyn, who directs this production. Jessica Llewellyn is the stage manager, and Noel Bryant heads up the backstage crew.
Performances are Friday, Sept. 24 and Saturday Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. and Sunday Sept. 26 at 2 p.m. All performances will be held at the L.H. Jones Auditorium, 215 Jones School Road in Mount Airy. These are “pay what you can” performances. There is no set admission price. Instead, audience members are asked to pay what they can comfortably afford. The Playmakers’ entire 2021 season is “pay what you can” in an effort to open up their shows to more people, especially those who might have experienced financial reversals during the pandemic.
Audience members are requested to wear masks while inside the auditorium. Seating will be socially distanced as much as possible for the audience’s safety. A portion of the proceeds from the play will go to support the Surry County Senior Center and the Jones Family Resource Center.