New Plays to Make Us Laugh

Written by Zackary Ross |

When I started planning this column a short time after the coronavirus shut down theatres, my first thought was to include plays that somehow addressed the life-altering realities of COVID-19. I discovered a lot of wonderful plays that spoke to themes of communities banding together in times of tragedy or moving on after health scares, and even one brilliant comedy about the plague, but when I put these plays next to each other, they just felt … too much. While each of these texts was worth a read, now just felt like the wrong time. I know theatre will come back, that we will all once again gather and marvel at live performance, but when we do, I believe that comedy will be the order of the day. Laughter heals the soul and, after this crisis, we all will need a good dose of it. Here, I offer a handful of comedies published recently by major play publishers. Following each description, you’ll find information about the cast breakdown and a referral to the publisher who holds the rights.

The Beverly Hillbillies, The Musical

Book by Amanda Rogers; music and lyrics by Gregg Opelka; based on the television show by Paul Henning,

Based on the classic television series of the 1960s, this inventive musical follows the Clampetts as they find themselves in the unfamiliar world of big-city living after patriarch Jed strikes it rich and moves his boisterous, countrified clan away from the Ozarks to Beverly Hills, CA. Ridiculous exploits and clever lyrics imbue this musical with a great deal of charm.

Cast breakdown: 6 females; 5 males
Publisher: Dramatic Publishing


The Nap

by Richard Bean

Principles aren’t a natural fit in the mysterious world of underground gambling, and Dylan Spokes is nothing if not principled. When he finds himself suddenly on the rise in a snooker tournament, Dylan must decide how far he is willing to compromise himself for the win. Full of colorful characters and comic misunderstandings, the play takes the audience on a spiraling romp into the dark underbelly of illegal gambling.

Cast breakdown: 3 females; 7 males
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service, Inc.


Native Gardens

by Karen Zacarías

Pablo and Tania are living the American dream when they buy their dream home. But a disagreement with the neighbors over a fence line threatens their little patch of bliss, and the resulting war is sure to set the audience rolling with laughter.

Cast breakdown: 2 females; 2 males
Publisher: Concord Theatricals


Goodnight Tyler

by B. J. Tindal

Tyler Evans returns to haunt his friends and relatives as they attempt to make sense of the Black man’s untimely death at the hands of a white police officer. He’s visible only to his white, gay roommate Davis, who seems undaunted by Tyler’s sudden return from the afterlife. As Tyler watches over those closest to him, he struggles to see himself as more than just a statistic and as part of a hashtag movement. Goodnight, Tyler is that rare play that successfully combines sociopolitical tragedy, acerbic satire and heartfelt

Cast breakdown: 3 females; 3 males
Publisher: Concord Theatricals


Talent Show Fail

by Ian McWethy and Carrie McWethy (McCrossen)

What is a talent show without the talent? This is the problem facing the citizens of Holly Springs, who are planning a talent show to raise money to fix the local roads. The show must go on in this short and sweet one-act where stardom awaits, if
only people can get their act together.

Cast breakdown: 5 females; 5 males
Publisher: Playscripts, Inc.


This article originally appeared in Southern Theatre, the magazine of the Southeastern Theatre Conference, Volume LXI Number 3, Summer 2020

Written by Zackary Ross
Zackary Ross, an assistant professor of theatre at Bellarmine University 
in Louisville, KY, also works regularly as a director and a dramaturg.



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