Bludsworth Opens Up about 'Least Likely Friends'

Tonya Bludworth
From left, Paige Johnson-Thomas, Iesha Hoffman, Chandler McIntrye, and Donna Scott.

Tonya Bludworth's upcoming play Least Likely Friends is one of the most highly-anticipated productions by a local playwright. This dark comedy follows for college friends who return home and reunite for a funeral only to discover that someone is keeping a secret — a secret that will tear the group apart. 

The cast is stacked with some of Charlotte's best actresses: Paige Johnson-Thomas, Chandler McIntrye, Iesha Hoffman, and Donna Scott. 

The show runs June 12-22 at Theatre Charlotte. Tickets can be bought here

Bludsworth took a few minutes out of her busy rehearsal schedule to answer some questions for Revue readers. 

How did this play come about?

My friend, Donna Scott of donna scott Productions was looking for a play with a small, all female cast. I remember what a struggle it was for her to find a piece with strong, well-written roles for women. She settled on a sweet comedy and it was fine, but I kept thinking there must be something better, something with real women dealing with real problems and life changing issues. That was the seed for Least Likely Friends.

How did you end up working with Theatre Charlotte?

I love this story because it shows how supportive and collaborative the Charlotte Arts community can be. My friend Catherine Smith, a great actress who's very involved in the local arts community, read my first play, Carrie Ann’s Kiss and thought it would be a great piece to put on at Theatre Charlotte. Ron Law, Theatre Charlotte's executive director, read it and, fortunately, agreed. We had a great run there with Theatre Charlotte as our producing partner along with my husband’s production company, Civilized Films. So when my new piece was finished, I knew Ron’s desk was the first place I’d drop it. I was ecstatic that they loved it and wanted to be a part of the team. So between Theatre Charlotte, donna scott productions, Civilized Films and a generous grant from the Arts and Science Council, Least Likely Friends found a home.

You set the play in one location without breaks, making the audience live within the scene as the characters are. Was that something that was important to you in the writing process?

It was actually something I found along the way. The first draft was written in a more traditional two-act formula. As I kept working the piece though, I found that I didn’t want anything to break the building tension in the show. So I decided to strip away certain elements and ended up with what, I hope, is a very tight show. An added bonus is that there should be no complaints from my non-theater friends about having to sit in a theater for too long!

You picked some of Charlotte's most well known actresses as your cast members. Did you know who you wanted for each part going in? 

I definitely had some ideas early on about casting, and after several readings most of the cast became pretty obvious to me. I always knew, from the moment I started writing, I had to have Chandler McIntyre for the very complex role of Mary. She is one of the most gifted actresses I know and I would have been heart-broken if she hadn’t been available. The only other role written for someone specific was Jessica. Initially, I had planned to be in the show and wrote the role of Jessica for me. Paige Johnston Thomas read the role at my first full-reading and blew me away. When I decided to direct, the choice was obvious and she’s so amazing that I’ve actually stopped hearing my own voice in my head for that role. Donna Scott, of course, has been involved since the beginning and I think has read every role in the play at some point. I just loved the energy and choices that she brought to the role of Robin and that’s where she landed. The role of Abbie has been a little tricky. We lost our first Abbie after rehearsal started and had to scramble for a replacement. I had not seen Iesha Hoffman’s stage work, but I love her energy. I asked her to read and she nailed it.

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