NORWAY — Approximately four years ago, Myra McLarey, co-author of the novel "The Road to Eden’s Ridge," asked her friend, Sally Jones of Norway, a pivotal question:
"Would you want to turn 'The Road to Eden’s Ridge' into a play?"
"Of course, I would. I loved the book," replied Jones, a well-known theater director and actress. Needing a collaborator, she turned to friend and composer Steve Jones of Harrison, a fellow Oxford Hills Music and Performing Arts Association member.
“And so for nearly four years, Steve and I sat across the table from each other at Cafe Nomad and in my dining room, in front of our computers, writing on Google Docs," said Jones, who wrote the script and directs the play.
The culmination, "The Road to Eden's Ridge, the Musical," will be premiered by OHMPAA at the Norway Grange over two weekends, opening Friday, Nov. 9.
The story is set in Nashville and in Eden’s Ridge, a thinly disguised Norway, Maine. The original music features both country and Broadway styles, written to help tell the story about characters who follow their dreams but come to realize that family ties and love matter more.
McLarey, a former Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School English teacher who now lives near Nashville, Tenn., wrote the book with Linda Weeks 15 years ago. They are known collaboratively as M.L. Rose.
“Central to the plot is an old opera house, bought by the fictional town of Eden’s Ridge in order to save and restore it,” Sally Jones said. “In an excellent example of life imitating art, McLarey wrote the novel 'The Road to Eden’s Ridge' in 1997, long before Norway actually took possession of its Opera House by eminent domain in 2010.”
One of the biggest challenges with the production, Jones said, is that it is a big, multigenerational story "and we had to remain true to the story and characters while remaining in a condensed form."
Sally Jones recently retired from OHCHS, where she taught English and drama for many years. Her most recent theatrical role was as U.S. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith in Linda Britt's original one-woman show, "Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington," staged by Out of the Box Theatre in Lewiston.
Steve Jones has several film credits, with"The Road to Eden’s Ridge, the Musical" as the first musical he has written. He is a self-taught guitar player and was trained as a journalist at Emerson College and was a radio reporter in Detroit for 10 years.
Shows will be at 8 p.m. Nov. 9-10 and 15-16-17; and at 2 p.m., Nov. 11 and 18 at the Grange on Whitman Street behind Fare Share CoOp. Tickets are available at Books N Things.