‘New Country’ Brings New Life

    More stories from Hailey G. Boyle


    courtesy of Fair Trade Productions

    “New Country” is as sassy and sweet as the music that inspired it.

    Country music’s bad boy Justin Spears is getting married in the morning. But tonight, he’ll kiss a man, get blackmailed, come face to face with his ex and his uncle will try to kill himself.

    It’s a country song come to life.

    Written by Mark Roberts, creator of “Mike & Molly” and executive producer of “Two and a Half Men,” “New Country” is his latest brainchild.

    This play uses lessons Roberts learned from the sitcom world and applies them seamlessly to the stage.

    Roberts plays Justin’s backwoods Uncle Jim and proves he’s more than just a writer. His deadpan delivery steals the show and has the audience slapping their knees, but Jim turns on a dime and delivers some of the most heartfelt moments. The same man who brought a blow-up doll to his own nephew’s bachelor party is minutes later holding a gun in his mouth.

    Enter Sharon, portrayed by Sarah Lemp, Justin’s ex. The tragic nature of the character when paired with her sardonic humor and no-nonsense attitude was a tall order, but Lemp handles it flawlessly, and she can carry tune too.

    Director Ian Streicher gets an A+ for casting.

    The chemistry between Roberts and Lemp is so perfect, it has you wishing for a spin-off play just about Jim and Sarah where they ride motorcycles off into the sunset.

    Matt Gall brilliantly handles the self-entitled Justin, but adds nuanced layers that almost make you feel sorry for the guy. His life is falling apart but his actions are the direct cause. Karma is a thing, Justin.

    “New Country” plays through May 14,  2016 at The Den Theatre located at 1333 W. Milwaukee Avenue.

    Performances run Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., with additional performances on Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. Sundays at 6:00 p.m.

    Tickets are $45 each and may be purchased by calling the box office at 1-800-838-3006 or by visiting www.NewCountryThePlay.com.