Connie I. Lane, THDN’s Production Coordinator and Faculty Instructor, was able to go to Cooperstown, NY this summer to support a new production of her revised script, The Night They Lit Up Wrigley.
Over 30 years ago, as a young theatre professional from St. Louis, Connie had the opportunity to meet and interview Rita Meyer Moellering, a professional baseball player in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). Rita “Slats” Meyer played shortstop and pitcher for the Peoria Redwings from 1946-1949, where she earned her nickname because her slick defense and hard, accurate throwing arm was reminiscent of her hometown hero, and St. Louis Cardinals shortstop, Marty “Slats” Marion. Lane developed Rita’s story into a one-woman drama, that was commissioned by the Muny/Student Theatre Project. This show premiered in July 1986, directed by Pamela Sterling, and performed by Connie, touring local St. Louis middle schools as part of the M/STP storytelling program.
Fast forward 30+ years, and due to a serendipitous meeting between Rita’s daughter Laura Moellering, and Producers Jamie Leonard and Pamela Rapp from PSI, Inc. in New York, the script was unearthed, revised and reimagined, receiving a 3-performance run at THE CHURCH, Artist Residency and Performance Venue in Mt. Vision, NY this past July. The new collaboration team included Director Eliza Beckwith (freelance NY-based director, and visiting Instructor at Alfred University, where recent CU THDN PhD graduate Nikki Tulk is now working!), an exquisite video design by Scott Fetterman highlighting Rita’s scrapbooks and archive material, and showcased the passionate and well-trained talents of actor Sarah Stewart Chapin. Still compelling as it was 30+ years ago, Rita’s story was heard and enthusiastically received by a whole new generation of theatre-goers and baseball fans.
Lane is grateful to the entire production company for putting this re-imagined and inspiring story back on the stage, and is committed to keeping the legacy of Rita, and her ball-playing professional women athletes and friends, alive for future generations. A huge shout-out to the CU Department of Theatre & Dance for helping underwrite Lane’s travel to New York with approved Instructor travel funds.
Photo Credit: AEA Performer Sarah Steward Chapin, in “The Night They Lit Up Wrigley”, July 2019, The Church Artist Residency & Performance Space, Mt. Vision, New York. Photo by PSI, Inc.