Originally created 12/05/03

Play contains many elements, but no John-Boy



There's no room for John-Boy at The Homecoming table.

Beginning Thursday, the Young Artists Repertory Theatre Company will present dinner-and-dessert theater productions of The Homecoming, a play based on the television movie, adapted from the Earl Hamner Jr. novel, which, along with the film and novel Spencer's Mountain, served as a springboard for The Waltons television series.

Whew. So where's John-Boy?

John-Boy Walton has been bid goodnight in favor of Clay-Boy Spencer, the aspiring novelist who would eventually evolve into John-Boy. Homecoming director John Greene said that's just one of the distinctions among the play, the movie and the television series.

"This is not The Waltons," Mr. Greene said with a laugh. "It's certainly not as sappy as I remember the show being, and the movie The Homecoming was just God-awful. I had to force myself to watch it - just really, really, really bad. But the dialogue in the play is different, very good. This is a real family, a family that doesn't always get along and a mother that isn't all sweetness and light."

Mr. Greene said the play appealed to him because the it combined elements of comedy, a period piece, family drama and a holiday play.

"It's really a show about the love shared by a single family," he said. "It's about the Depression, about tough times and keeping heads held high," he said. "The thing is, everyone goes through tough times at some point, and surviving them is what this play is about."

When cast as Clay-Boy Spencer, Greenbrier High School junior Matt Lowry was unaware of the character's history.

"I had never even heard of the show," he said with a small shrug. "It turns out, though, that everyone else has. That did make me a little nervous, because this is a character that everyone knows."

Matt said he hasn't seen the television show but did watch the movie. He said that although the movie may have inspired him to try new things, his Clay-Boy was a fairly well-developed entity before he saw Richard Thomas' performance.

"I think (not having seen the movie) allowed me to have my own character in my mind," he said."Yes, I did see the movie, and I did find things I could add. But for the most part, I've been able to develop this character myself."

ON STAGE

THE PLAY: The Homecoming

THE DATES: 6:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Dec. 13

THE VENUE: Goodwin Commons at Augusta Preparatory Day School, 285 Flowing Wells Road

THE COST: $20 adults, $18 seniors and $15 youths for dinner theater performances Thursday and Friday, Dec. 12; $14 adults, $12 children for dessert theater on Saturday, Dec. 12; performance-only tickets available for $12 and $10; 210-8915.

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.