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Essex playwright​ pens and directs “Alumni Pie”

Playwright Carole Vasta Folley of Essex Junction poses with the cast of “Alumni Pie.” PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

Playwright Carole Vasta Folley of Essex Junction poses with the cast of “Alumni Pie.”

Girls Nite Out Productions presents the premiere of Essex Junction resident Carole Vasta Folley’s original comedy, “Alumni Pie,” this weekend and next in Burlington as part of the group’s fifth anniversary celebration.

Founders Jennifer Warwick and Janet Stambolian began the production company in 2010 to provide more theatrical roles and opportunities for women onstage and off.  Beyond featuring eight women’s roles and a largely female production team, “Alumni Pie” is written and directed by a Vermont woman playwright. Vasta Folley also wrote and directed the company’s 2013 hit, “The Family of Ewe.”

A comedy about reunion and second chances, “Alumni Pie” capitalizes on Vasta Folley’s keen sense of humor and her trademark quirky but believable characters to tell a story about the power of human connection.

“My playwriting is about exposing the perfect imperfection of the human condition,” says Vasta Folley. “And, of course, entertaining the audience. Entertainment is eschewed in some circles, but I embrace it. Most importantly though, I want to say something about our true nature and the crazy but loving way we connect with one another. Of course, if I can do that AND have men wearing bras, why not?,” Vasta Folley says.

Vasta Folley was the recipient of the 2015 Vermont Playwright’s Award for “The Sleepover — A Comedy of Marriage,” as well as the Flynn Center’s Vermont Artists’ Space Grant for the development of her drama, “The Seymour Sisters.” This two-woman play will tour Vermont in 2016 supported by a grant from the Vermont Arts Endowment Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation.

“Alumni Pie” cast members Robin Owens and Margaret Boylan are also from Essex Junction. Owens, who plays the role of Nia, describes her character as, “the kind person who only wants the best for everyone. She is excited for this college reunion, but nervous to be around all of her very successful friends.”

Owens describes “Alumni Pie” as a very funny play with unexpected outcomes, adding that the rehearsals have been a “blast.” As to working with a playwright director, Owens says, “Carole is caring of those she works with and generous in spirit.  Her genius is everywhere.  As an actor you know she wants you to shine, and mines you for your best possible performance.”

Margaret Boylan, like Owens, a long time Essex resident, first got involved with Girls Nite Out when cast in “The Hallelujah Girls” in 2011. In “Alumni Pie,” Boylan plays Lena, the eccentric host of the guesthouse rented for the college reunion. Vasta Folley admits she wrote the role specifically for Boylan, saying, “How could I not? She has these powerhouse vocals and a real comedic sense. The question wasn’t whether I’d write a role for Boylan, it was instead figuring out how to capitalize on her amazing talents. I can’t wait for the audience to get a load of Margaret as Lena!”

Boylan, whose favorite roles have included the Mother Superior in “Nunsense” and Jeanette in “The Full Monty,” says it is an honor to be cast in an original play, adding, “Somebody pinch me!”

“Alumni Pie” will premiere at Main Street Landing’s Black Box Theater and feature a cast of Girls Nite Out alumni in recognition of their fifth anniversary.

“Alumni Pie” actress Linda McGinnis puts it all together, “Come see the show and join the GNOP family. If you haven’t seen one of Carole Vasta Folley’s productions, you are missing a major boat!”

Alumni Pie runs Oct. 1-4 and Oct. 7- 10, evening and matinee performances, Main Street Landing Black Box Theater, Burlington. For tickets or more information, visit flynntix.org or girlsniteoutvt.com

—Staff report