Cast in order of appearance:
Connie Smith – Any adult age; A novice real estate agent.
Joseph McReynolds – (58); Something of a “good old boy.” He is smart and successful, but his life has gone fairly sour.
Edna Brogan – (At least 70); A nosey, wise, somewhat eccentric, wonderful old lady. Lovable, and usually right.
Alice Brogan – (40’s); Edna’s daughter-in-law. Stylish and attractive, but hard and not super bright. A domineering wife.
Ann Levering – (Early to mid 20’s); Bright, likeable, attractive, educated.
Rick Adamson – (Around 30); A drifter. Intelligent, but a determined dropout; unwilling to adapt.
Edward Brogan – (40’s); Edna’s son. He’s an engineer, a mama’s boy, and a hen-pecked husband.
Sam Jackson – (Mid to late 40’s); Joe’s business manager, and his friend. More comfortable in a hard hat than a business suit.
Approaching 60, Joseph McReynolds is a successful man with failing health and an empty life. He owns a prosperous construction company and has everything that money can buy, but very little else. To kill some time while waiting to die, he decides to try something he’s always wanted to do-buy a big old house and fix it up.
Renovations is the story of what happens when he finds just the right house: a dilapidated ante-bellum style mansion in a run-down section of town. It is also the story of three other people who become involved in the renovation project. There’s Edna Brogan, a meddlesome old biddy-body neighbor who turns out to be a wonderful little old lady; Rick Adamson, a drifter who breaks into the house one night and ends up being hired by Joe to work on the project; and Ann Levering, who is Rick’s travelling companion.
Joe attempts to create a surrogate family for himself, using these three people. When Edna’s son and daughter-in-law want to put her into an old folk’s home, he hires her as his housekeeper and lets her move into the house. He also attempts to remold Rick; offering to bring him into the construction business once the renovation project is complete. A confirmed dropout, Rick resists Joe’s efforts; while Ann, who longs for a more stable life than she has with Rick, watches their conflict with concern.
To quote from the Houston Post review of the play, “Everybody’s life gets renovated in some way, and although everyone doesn’t live happily ever after, they do live wiser ever after. Renovations’ finale may not be as sweet or ‘Isn’t that nice?’ comforting as those in popular fairytales and TV situation comedies, but it is a lot more realistic and true-to-life.”
Contemporary. The action takes place over the course of a summer.
The play takes place in the front parlor and entry hall of an old mansion in a run-down, inner-city neighborhood of any southern metropolitan area that’s old enough to have such homes. The house, built in 1912, is a pseudo-Victorian interpretation of the Colonial Georgian style mansions popular in the South before the Civil War. It is vacant and has been on the real estate market for almost two years.
The entry hall is upstage right, elevated several steps above the parlor, and it is visible through a wide archway. The front door is off to stage right, probably invisible to the audience, although the door itself may be visible when it is opened. At the back of the entry hall, going off left, a flight of stairs – partially visible to the audience – goes up to the second floor. Downstage of the stairway a hall leads off left to the rear of the house. In the back wall of the entry hall, centered in the archway, is a large, translucent, stained glass window.
In the parlor there are French doors in the stage right wall that open onto the front porch. They are covered with tattered sheers and faded old drapes. Outside, there are shutters. A fireplace with an elaborate mantle is in the stage left wall of the parlor. Upstage of the fireplace is a swinging door that leads off to the dining room, and on through to the kitchen. In the upstage wall of the parlor, two or three wide steps lead up to the entry hall. To the left of the entry archway, there are built-in bookcases with cabinets below them.
The walls of the house are wainscoted up to a chair rail. Around the top of the walls is a heavy, dark wood cornice molding. On either side of the archway opening, there is a square wooden column. Spaced around the walls are pilasters which copy the design of the columns and which break up the walls into a number of inset panel sections.
At the beginning of the play, these inset panels are covered with faded, worn, spotted wallpaper in shades of tan or beige, and the drapes are also beige or light brown. There is no color on the set except the stained glass window. At the act break, the panel inserts are replaced to suggest the repainting of the walls to a lighter, brighter color – perhaps a pale blue.
The play is about the renovation of the house and the rejuvenation of several of the characters. It is important that, as much as possible, the set go from a faded, colorless, lifeless, “dead” beginning to being, by the end, full of color and life. The wall inserts, the drapes, the furnishings – all should work to bring the house back to life.
For a complete reading copy, rights and royalty information, or other questions, please contact us through the information on the What’s New page.
“Renovations” photographs on the website are from productions at Chocolate Bayou Theatre Company, Houston, Texas; Theatre Plus, Seattle, Washington; and Off the Wall Theatre, Monroe, Washington. Click the photo for a full-size version.