Cast of "Doublewide" a rowdy bunch

The cast of “A Doublewide, Texas Christmas.”

Christmas is yet again upon us and so it’s time to chat with the folks at Flowertown Players about their upcoming production.

“A Doublewide, Texas Christmas” (population: 10) is the newest, smallest town in the Lone Star State, and the most wonderful time of the year is rapidly becoming the most stressful.

I interviewed Executive Director Courtney Bates, who plays the mayor of “Doublewide” (Joveeta Crumpler), along with the play’s director, Larry Spinner, and assistant director, Heather Hogan.

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Regan: In your program notes, the show is rated “FTP-14” – What does that mean? How did you all choose this play?

Bates: It’s based on TV ratings. As our website explains, an FTP-14 rating is one where the program contains some material many parents would find unsuitable for children under 14 years of age. However, there is no foul language in this play nor violence.

A committee chooses the plays each year.

Regan: What makes this play unique for you as a director, Larry?

Spinner: Every play is inherently unique because of its script and the group of actors on stage. This is a comedy about a dysfunctional extended family working together for a common goal against insurmountable odds. What I like most about this show is it’s a comedy with a serious message. Through the laughter, it reminds us of the need to be compassionate and forgiving. Anger and revenge are self-destructive, and everyone deserves a second chance. Most of all, I feel this show is a story of hope: never give up hope for a better future!

R: Heather, is it rare to have an assistant director for a play? What do you, versus the director, concentrate on?

Hogan: I had never heard of an assistant director who was separate from the stage manager. In my experience, they are one and the same. The focus for the director is to direct, coordinate, decide and execute. My piece as assistant director has been to support the director in his vision, support the cast and crew in their various needs, and absorb what I can from the process in order to grow as a director myself. This is my first foray into the world of directing and, whether I continue, I have to say that working with this cast has been a highlight in my life. I love them.

R: Is there any music in this play or is the main part its comedy, comedic timing and onstage antics?

Bates: This show is not a musical but does have a lot of everyone’s favorite Holiday tunes throughout to get you in the festive mood.

Hogan: Yes, there is both music and comedy in this show and sometimes the music is used for comedic effect.

R: What are the other main character’s roles like?

B: A “cast of characters” is putting it lightly. They are a rowdy bunch, all with their own eccentric personalities. Audiences are sure to know someone in their family like each character and are bound to fall in love with them. All the residents of Doublewide, Texas, are in it to win it for their town. They might be a bit crazy, but they have big hearts.

R: Courtney, are you at all like the character you play? What did you like about the role? Do you or the other actors have any creative freedom to embellish your parts even more than what was written in the script, or must you remain faithful to the script?

B: Surprisingly enough, I think Joveeta and I are very similar. She is quite passionate about being the mayor of Doublewide (which can be a lot like herding cats) and is a bit of a work-a-holic which I can fully relate to. She’s single and career-driven but, deep down, has a big heart and loves her crazy family.

I love everything about Joveeta except she is supposed to be a pretty bad dresser which I am not. For every show, it’s essential to stick to the script as that’s how the writers intended the lines to go but you can find embellishment in movement, characterization choices, and vocal inflection which can make the show even funnier.

R: I noticed the three playwrights: Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, have co-written several comedies including “The Red Velvet Cake War,” which Flowertown produced earlier this year. How would you compare the two?

B: Jones/Hope/Wooten have created a world in which their plays take place. You will hear names from “The Red Velvet Cake War” mentioned and towns that exist in their other plays. Although not necessarily written to do in any particular order, their plays work so well with each other.

This show is a slapstick comedy falling within the same genre as “The Red Velvet Cake War.” “A Doublewide, Texas Christmas” is a newer play so I would say that because ”The Red Velvet Cake War” has been produced more often, then it would be the most well-known of the two.

H: Both plays take place in the same general area of Texas. The current play not only mentions the more memorable people from The RVCW, but a character from RVCW actually makes an appearance in this show (no spoilers). I also found it interesting that they used some similar tropes in each: an easy-to-dislike villain, a few sassy middle-aged women with big hearts, older folks engaged in hilarious flirting, and a David vs. Goliath theme guaranteed to be relatable to all audiences.

Mary E. Regan, Columnist, is a publicist with her ProPublicist consultancy. Story ideas? Email: