All Hail the Queen of Rural Media!
Jay Byrd brings Pat Hazell's Kodachrome Christmas to cheery life.
By Wayne Alan Brenner,
10:30AM, Wed. Nov. 26, 2014
Jay Byrd is Earlene Hoople: That's what snagged our attention first, about this show, this upcoming production of A Kodachrome Christmas.
Jay Byrd, that tall and lanky fellow who's always brought a unique verve to Austin's theatre community and who's brightened shows both oddly delightful (Ordinary Peephole: the Songs of Dick Price) and weirdly amazing (Jubilee) while also occasionally running rampant through the local improv scene, is Earlene Hoople.
And Earlene Hoople is a cable-access TV hostess – the self-proclaimed "Queen of Rural Media" – who is taping her Christmas special in front of a live audience. So we're imagining this is going to be both a little campy and a little heartwarming and maybe even as satisfying as a hot dish of potatoes au gratin at a church social.
Further evidence is provided, heartwarmingwise, when we see that this show is written by Pat Hazell, the former Seinfeld scribe who's also brought us that spectacle of nostalgia called The Wonder Bread Years. And what heart, we have to wonder, what heart could remain unwarmed by the knowledge that ticket sales go, in part, to support Operation Blue Santa – the APD's program of providing full holiday meals and presents to Austin families in need.
So we're looking at a bona fide holiday treat here, is our reckoning, which might prove to be just the thing for your almost-year's-end viewing pleasure at Salvage Vanguard Theater this weekend. Which leads us, ever hopeful of piquing your interest in what's going on around town, to ask Mr. Byrd, Jay, how'd you get involved with this show?
"My involvement came about by way of the theater community, and specifically Natalie George," says Byrd. "We were working on Paper Chairs' production of The Suicide together, and Natalie saw me walking in heels and said, 'You might be a good fit for this other show I'm working on,' and she got me an audition. The homespun nature of A Kodachrome Christmas went right along with a singing and storytelling act I did for ten years in New York City and around the country, called Y'all. So the audition was pretty easy for me."
And who, Jay, before we send our readers off to click on ticket reservations, who was your inspiration for the character you play in this show?
"Characters, actually," says Byrd, who's portraying more than just the craft-savvy Ms. Hoople in this one-person production. "And the inspiration comes from a variety of sources. Of course Monty Python. And, especially for Earlene, Patricia Routledge and her amazing portrayal of Hyacinth Bucket in Keeping Up Appearances – which always reminds me of my Nana."
And A Kodachrome Christmas, we're suggesting, might just remind you, dear reader, of the cheerier, more innocent possibilities of this holiday season.