ALPENA — In his directorial debut, Mark John Hunter is looking forward to heading up “Lilies of the Field” at Alpena Civic Theatre.
The play, adapted to the stage by Andrew F. Leslie, from the novel by William E. Barrett, will open April 22, but auditions will be held tonight and Saturday.
Auditions will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. both days.
Parts are available for five women, all singing parts, and four men, three of which are not singing parts.
“Originally, there was a book, and then a movie based on the book, and then a play based on the book,” Hunter explained.
The 1963 movie starred the late Sidney Poitier, who passed away early this year.
“When traveling African-American handyman Homer Smith stops by a farm in rural Arizona, he is welcomed by a group of Roman Catholic nuns who have emigrated from Germany,” a description notes. “Realizing that the farm needs a lot of work, Homer takes on a number of repair projects for the women, who are led by the headstrong Mother Maria. Impressed by Homer’s kindness and strong work ethic, the nuns come to believe that he has been sent by God to help build them a chapel.”
“It’s a warm-hearted story with beautiful music,” Hunter said. “There are six songs … It’s a variety. It’s essentially a cappella. Some guitar playing.”
Although he has not directed a play before, Hunter has been involved with the Civic Theatre since he was a teen His mother was the late Evelyn Hunter.
“Since I was a teenager, off and on, I’ve had small acting parts,” Hunter said. “I ran lights for a play, I’ve worked on many plays helping my mother, who’s directed and assistant directed plays … I learned a lot of the details of putting on a play that way.”
He enjoys being involved with the theater because he can meet and interact with other creative people.
“It’s a good way to get to know a large number of creative people,” Hunter said. “It’s a select group of persons who you don’t always find collected in one place.”
He said it takes a great cast and crew to put on a production.
“One motivation for doing the play is that, in the play, if you add together the actors and the people behind the scenes, they are about 20 persons, and they all enjoy what they’re doing,” Hunter said. “So that’s a strong motivation to be the director, for me.”
Beverly Hunter is the assistant director.
“She is my ex-cousin-in-law,” Mark Hunter explained. “She’s a very lively, entertaining, enjoyable person.”
Both are from Alpena.
Mark Hunter explained why he chose this play.
“This name came up while looking up reviews for another play,” he noted. “And I looked at it, and I got to thinking about the times that we live in, where people are so divided and angry with each other. This play is about persons of different backgrounds, different religions, different races, all getting together for a common goal. And so I thought that is a good message for our time.”
Contact Mark Hunter at 989-354-8630.