Arika Larson’s ‘White Sangria’ returns for a full production at Just Off Broadway

04/30/2014 7:41 PM

04/30/2014 7:41 PM

Arika Larson has been writing plays for years, but Friday she will see the first professional production of one of her pieces when “White Sangria” opens at the Just Off Broadway Theatre.

The play is part of MeltingPot KC’s series of original works by women playwrights who live in Kansas City or have roots here.

Larson was raised in Overland Park but now makes her home in New York, where she lives in the Crown Heights area of Brooklyn.

“White Sangria” made an impression on viewers who saw an earlier version of this pressure-cooker drama in 2011 at the KC Fringe Festival. Larson said that the play may run a bit longer now and that she has altered the final scene.

“I’ve had the benefit of leaving it completely and then coming back to it with new knowledge and a new awareness,” Larson said by telephone. “The biggest change you’ll notice is the ending. I think it has a much different emotional note, and one I think is better and truer to those characters.”

The play depicts an evening of unexpected events after a young, newly relocated couple throw a casual dinner party for their neighbors. Mundane patter gradually becomes pointed, and revelations ratchet up the tension, leading to an unexpected conclusion.

“It’s all in the living room, all in this one night,” she said.

Larson said the play began as one scene she wrote in a playwriting workshop hosted by Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre. Playwright Stuart Spencer, who led the workshop, threw out images for the young playwrights to build on.

“I saw these two characters emerge, and the scene I wrote for that project is more or less the first scene in ‘White Sangria,’ 

” she said. “This is my first official professional production, so it’s an exciting moment for me. And its great that it’s in my home. That’s an added bonus.”

Larson said her play “Foreign Bodies,” which was staged in Kansas City at the 2012 fringe festival, will get its first full production this summer in New York. The Artists Movement, a company formed by UMKC theater grads, will produce it. Company members include Jay Akin, TJ Chasteen, Angela Cristantello and Greg Brostrom.

And Larson will be coming back to town this summer with a new piece for the KC Fringe Festival, in which she will also perform.

“White Sangria” is directed by Harvey Williams and features Jonathon Engle, Sabrina “Brie” Henderson, Coleman Crenshaw and Melody Butler.

The show previews Thursday, opens Friday and runs through May 18 at Just Off Broadway, 3051 Central Ave. in Penn Valley Park. Call

816-784-5020 or go to KCMeltingPot.com. Tickets are available at BrownPaperTickets.com

.

Other news

Martin City Jr., the youth theater wing of Martin City Melodrama Vaudeville Co., is continuing “Aesop’s Amazing Fables!” through Aug. 1 at the company’s performance venue in Metcalf South Shopping Center, 95th Street and Metcalf Avenue, Overland Park.

Martin City founder Jeanne Beechwood wrote and directed this original show, which features songs by Jon Copeland. The piece is performed by Beechwood and Rob Pagenkopf.

Martin City’s main stage show, “The A-Lone Ranger,” continues through May 10.

For information or tickets for either show, call

913-642-7576.

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