David Budbill’s ‘Judevine’ At Lost Nation Theater

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Arts / Apr. 20, 2017 10:31am EDT


Abby Paige, as Edith, holds court, gossiping at the roller rink with Doug (Mark Roberts) and Conrad (Robert Nuner) in this scene from David Budbill’s “Judevine” at Lost Nation Theater April 20-May 7. (Provided / John Snell) Abby Paige, as Edith, holds court, gossiping at the roller rink with Doug (Mark Roberts) and Conrad (Robert Nuner) in this scene from David Budbill’s “Judevine” at Lost Nation Theater April 20-May 7. (Provided / John Snell) David Budbill’s “Judevine” comes home to Lost Nation Theater for a 10th anniversary production that opens the theater’s 2017 season at the Montpelier City Hall Arts Center, Thursdays–Sundays, April 20– May 7.

“Judevine” is a tribute to Vermont— the one that still exits on her gritty back roads—as seen through the eyes of one of her best poets. In this poetic, funny, and earthy portrait seven actors create 24 characters— ordinary people—in a poor, rural (fictional?) mountain town in northern Vermont, called Judevine, where incredible physical beauty, great hardship, and a tenacious and indomitable will to survive live side by side.

Lost Nation Theater has been telling Vermont stories since its inception. When producing director Kathleen Keenan realized that that 2017 would be its 40th birthday (Kim Bent founded the company in Bristol, Vt. in 1977), she had one thought—open 2017 with a signature LNT production—David Budbill’s “Judevine.” Although Vermont’s beloved poet and playwright passed away last September, Bent said the decision to continue with the plan “just felt right…like it would be a great way to honor David.”

Bent, who is once again directing, added, “David Budbill’s ‘Judevine’ paints a highly-detailed portrait of real people in a particular place who are timeless, mythic, larger-than-life. They are unvarnished human beings with glorious strengths and forgivable limitations. To bring them to life is an extremely gratifying challenge—a true labor of love.”

This production has five of the original LNT cast members back, and also added an actor—allowing veteran Scott Renzoni to play only “the poet David.” The role of young Vietnam Vet Tommy Stames is now played by Sean Gregory, in his LNT debut. Abby Paige trades the character of Grace for the character of Ann; and Ashley Nease joins “Judevine” to play Grace. Robert Nuner once again inhabits the likes of Arnie, Conrad, and Edgar, while Mark Roberts is back as Doug, Jerry, and Roy, and Ben Ash climbs into the skin of the logger Antoine one more time.

On his website (in 2007) Budbill wrote: “Kim Bent is the perfect person to direct this play...a sixth-generation native Vermonter, a farm boy in fact...He understands the people in ‘Judevine.’ And the cast understands the characters also, being as they are all Vermonters as well.”

Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The show is rated PG 13 for “cussin’ and serious life situations.” Lost Nation Theater is wheelchair accessible, and offers an assisted listening system. For information, visit lostnationtheater.org or call 802-229-0492.

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