Imagine if you will, an extremely riveting story, revolving around a Pope who is a woman, who also hates men (and oftentimes does not seem too keen on the women folk either). Yet, a pope has never been a woman. Perhaps that is why this lady pope hates men, or at the very least does so, as an antidote unto the society into in which she was born—and all those born after her. Inhabiting a family harboring so many entertaining quirks and dysfunctions, not only is much tension sought to be severed with a knife, but a rubber chicken or two might just figure into the mix somewhere for something or some’m er other! Well this is exactly what singer/actress Laura Pursell sets out to explore in her one woman play: The Pope of Jocelyn Hollow!
“The Pope”, the title given to Pursell’s dictatorial grandmother, squeezes a somehow malleable iron fist around every familial transaction, accomplishment and decision, as the not-so-hidden-hand of hostile-hospitability steers, and manipulates much domestic strife. Set in the deep south, Pursell takes us from her lonely childhood origins, to haunted barns, nurturing nannies and parental dismissiveness, to a high school eating disorder invented and adopted out of some of the most unique, if not fanciful, circumstances I have ever beheld! Continuing said journey she will walk us through her college years, to the unscrupulous, yet ingenious, first place win in an advertising campaign contest for a product called Bran Strands, to a career in advertising nearly helmed by her own mother, before breaking out into her illustrious singing career! The play’s ups and downs are as riveting as the a Gaviscon necessitating roller coaster ride it came in on, in part adopted after metaphorically eating said Bran Strands (but not post eating disorder)!
Such is said monologue turned one woman play, and with a storied career like Pursell’s, you know there are some decided Easter Eggs to be divined; (particularly in honor of the so-called “Pope”)! Rather than humble, her beginnings are more than colorful. Daughter of celebrated musician Bill Pursell, best known for his beloved hit, Our Winter Love, (only to be entertained by John F. Kennedy in light of traversing to the white house to entertain him), Laura herself would go on to follow in his footsteps; sometimes even walking alongside him, in kind and in concert, by performing with him. Concerning any and all related presidential acclaim, Laura herself garnered her very own national commendation in a ceremony performing for President Gerald Ford and wife Betty. On top of that, Laura has recorded five albums. Not only has she performed all over the United States but in St. Petersburg Russia, and Dublin Ireland and has sung with such musical luminaries as Earl Palmer, Al Viola, Don Most, Judy Norton, the Les Brown Orchestra to name a few.
Starring Pursell and directed by Mia Christou, this one-hour comedy/drama/dramedy is a tale not to be missed! Performances run Friday through Sunday December 1-3 and December 8-9 at 8:00 pm at The Actors Group Theater – 2813 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, CA. 91505. The cost of admission, just $15.00.
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