HASTINGS STAR GAZETTE 2015
David Cook is a familiar name in Hastings. A few years ago, Cook was introduced locally as the “flowerbomber,” making and installing large, colorful, artsy flowers temporarily at various locations around the city. He now has a more permanent display hanging over the walking trail in Jaycee Park. But this weekend, he’ll be the focus of a different sort of artwork: a musical.
Years ago, Cook teamed up with another Hastings artist, Janet Letnes Martin, to write a book, “Lemonade for the Lawnboy.” The book is about 16 “upper crust” ladies and their right-hand man, The Lawnboy. The characters are colorful and the story funny, but it also delves into some of Cook’s own childhood memories.
At the time, Martin had been involved in a musical production based on another book she co-authored, and in 2007 she asked her script writer, Greta Grosch, if she would be willing to turn “Lemonade for the Lawnboy” into a musical as well. Grosch agreed.
The play is not an exact reproduction of the book. While the book focuses on the story of Cook’s “ladies,” the play adds a second element – reality.
“It’s just plain genius what (Grosch) did,” Martin said.
Amid the humor of the ladies, the play shows a separate world, where the audience gets to know the characters of David and Janet, which are inspired by Cook and Martin. The play shows both the scenes playing in David’s head (the ladies), as well as the real world situations David and Janet encounter.
Although David and Janet are inspired by Cook and Martin, Grosch said that they’re not exact representations of the Hastings artists, and they’re not intended to be. (Cook and Martin) both have been consultants for me,” Grosch said.
About the play
“Lemonade for the Lawnboy: The Musical!” is a musical comedy with a dramatic element, Grosch said. There’s plenty to make the audience laugh, but it doesn’t shy away from heart-felt moments.
“It brings up some serious issues,” Cook said.
According to the play’s website, www.lawnboymusical.com, David, the Lawnboy, is a recovering addict. He creates his “ladies” out of found objects and brings them to life in his imagination. Their world is “colorful, and campy, and musical.” The alternative black and white, non-musical world shows the friendship between David and Janet and how they both struggle. Eventually, the two worlds begin to collide.
What, exactly, the play is about seems to be different for different groups, Grosch said. Some people have told her they think it’s about grief and loss. Others think it’s about the redemptive power of art. She’s also heard people suggest it’s about addiction or relationships. She invited readers to see the play and tell her what they think it’s about.
Whatever the specific topic, Grosch, Cook and Martin are hoping their audience will take away a powerful idea from the production: that no matter how much one is hurting or struggling, that they can find comfort somewhere and be able to move forward.
The play covers just one year of David’s life, Grosch said, and there’s no tidy long-term resolution. “We don’t know what’s next,” she said.
All they – and the audience – know is that the characters in that moment are ready to move on to whatever comes next. “In that moment there’s peace,” she said.
The play features the music of Jimmy Kennedy and Joe Weismann of “The Smarts.” Grosch said the music has a jazz/pop feel.
“It doesn’t sound like musical theater,” she said.
For more information about the musical, and to order tickets, go to www.lawnboymusical.com.