‘Touching story’ tells of grandparents raising grandkids

The specter of abandonment haunts all the characters in Christina Cottles’ new play “A Sunday Morning Kind of Gal.”

Delores Bellard, a hardworking mother and grandmother who takes care of everyone in her family, is even visited by a real ghost, the mother who left her to chase a man and later died young.

The play won this year’s Emerging Playwright Project by UpStage Theater. “A Sunday Morning Kind of Gal” stood out because it deals with grandparents raising their grandchildren, an issue that affects many people, says director and UpStage founder Ava Brewster-Turner.

The performance Friday will feature a reception with the playwright at 5:30 p.m. and a talkback with members of the community and the group Grandparents Raising Grandchildren after the show.

“The play touches home with so many people,” Turner says. “We see Delores in the story dealing with so much — her marriage is in trouble, her aunt has dementia. It’s a touching story.”

After being abandoned by her mother at an early age, as an adult Delores finds herself raising a grandchild when her daughter leaves to pursue stardom.

“She said she was going to audition for a play or a movie and it turned into seven years,” says Telisha Diaz, who plays Delores.

When the play begins, Delores’ daughter, Tia, has returned, saying she wants to make a new start, but Delores is skeptical. It doesn’t help that Delores’ deceased mother begins to haunt her and give her bad advice.

“At this point, she is wondering if she can have a better life. She’s entertaining the idea of leaving her family,” Diaz says.

A high school sweetheart also comes back into Delores’ life and tries to lure her away from her husband.

To complicate her life even more, Delores has been grooming her granddaughter, Georgie, for a career in dance, but just as she receives an acceptance letter from the school of her choice, an unexpected development changes everything.

“Delores has to deal with it and a lot of the story is about how (this development) affects her relationship with her granddaughter,” Diaz says.

At the same time, Georgie has a change of heart about becoming a dancer, her first rebellion against her grandmother.

“She has to make life-changing decisions,” says Naomi Trahan, who plays the granddaughter.

“A Sunday Morning Kind of Gal” is the only new production in UpStage Theatre Company’s 10th season. To celebrate the anniversary, the theater has been bringing back audience favorites from previous years.

An encore performance of “Home for Christmas” will run Dec. 5-7, closing the season. Comedy night is also back on the second Friday of every month and Open Mic Night on the fourth Thursday.

“We have poetry, spoken word, dancing, everything. It’s truly an open mic,” Turner says.

Cast: Telisha Diaz, Delores Bellard; Trey Buckner, Eddie Bellard; Shana Burris, Aunt Naomi Guidry; Ashley Millender, Tia Bellard; Michael Henderson, Charles Stevens; Christina Thompson, Gwen; Naomi Trahan, Georgie Jackson

Crew: Ava Brewster-Turner, director; Alexander Scott, stage manager; Barbara Oliver, costumes; Maddgame Entertainment, publicity

‘A Sunday Morning Kind of Gal’

WHAT: UpStage Theatre production

WHERE: Louisiana State Police Training Academy Auditorium, 7901 Independence Blvd.

WHEN: 7 p.m., Friday-Saturday, Sept. 5-6

TICKETS: $20, upstagetheatre.biz or the UpStage Theatre Ticket Office, 1713 Wooddale Blvd., Baton Rouge.

INFORMATION: info@upstagetheatre.biz or (225) 924-3774