Theatrical history may be in the making for New Orleans when the world premiere of the stage version of “Flowers in the Attic” opens tonight (Aug. 13) for a three-weekend run at the Old Marques Theatre.
The 1979 book by V.C. Andrews, from which the play takes its name, sold 40 million copies and was adapted into two top-grossing films. It is still selling today, and a cult-like following has steadily grown around the book and its author, who died in 1986.
Books in the series are still being written under her name by bestselling author Andrew Neiderman, with whom the Andrews estate contracted to complete her unfinished work and write new books under various series names.
Neiderman wrote the stage version of “Flowers in the Attic” in October 2014, and it was put up for download by Amazon.com. Christopher Bentivegna, artistic director of See ’Em on Stage, a locally based performance collective, saw it and was intrigued.
“I read ‘Flowers in the Attic’ when I was a kid and absolutely loved it,” Bentivegna said. “I had been looking for new plays for my company to do and, when I saw it on Amazon, I did some research and found out it hadn’t been performed yet.”
Initiating contact with the publisher of the stage play and the agency representing it, Bentivegna laid out his vision for how he thought the show should be staged. They passed Bentivegna’s contact information on to Neiderman.
“The next thing I know, he emails me. Just out of the blue,” Bentivegna said. “He said, ‘I love your vision. I think you have great ideas.’ ”
The story, the first in Andrews’ Dollanganger series, revolves around a family struck by a tragedy that strains them financially. To gain access to a potentially lucrative inheritance, the mother of four children, ranging in age from 4 to 14, locks them in the attic of their grandmother’s mansion, with dark and tragic results.
The children in “Flowers in the Attic” are played by Kali Russell as a young Cathy Dollanganger, Jen Pagan as an older Cathy, Levi Hood as Christopher Dollanganger, and Edward Boudreaux IV and Daisey Mackey as the twins Cory and Carrie. Rebecca Elizabeth Hollingsworth is the mother, Corrine Dollanganger, and Mary Pauley is Olivia Foxworth, the hated grandmother.
To Richard Mayer, owner/operator of the Old Marquer Theatre, the prospect of hosting this world premiere is “absolutely fantastic.”
Mayer, who said he’s been getting calls about the show from other cities, noted “I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of fans she (Andrews) has and how much everyone around the world is excited about it. It’s really awesome to be part of this whole huge world of V.C. Andrews’ loving fans.”
“Flowers in the Attic” will run Thursdays through Mondays, Aug. 13-31. Tickets are $20. Monday nights are a special “Industry Nights” with tickets discounted 20 percent to members of the theatrical community.
For tickets call (504) 298-8676 or visit www.eventbrite.com.