Pioneer Playhouse presents romantic comedy 'Cactus Flower'


James Alexander Bond is making a quick stop in Danville. The director just closed a production of "Godspell" in Pennsylvania. After "Cactus Flower" opens Tuesday, he heads off to work on a new musical titled "Zelda" in Pennsylvania. Then it's on to upstate New York for a production of "The Mikado," followed by "Biloxi Blues."

And Bond, who is based out of Manhattan but spends three-quarters of his time elsewhere, he says, is a master of understatement.

"The summers are packed," he says.

Bond sent out a mailing to theaters at which he wanted to work, one of which was Pioneer Playhouse. He was contacted by Eben C. "The Colonel" Henson.

"I do a lot of summerstock," says Bond, who earned a master's in directing.

An occasional director at the playhouse, Steve Sunderlin, interviewed Bond on behalf of the playhouse. Although they didn't know each other, they knew a number of the same people. Bond says Sunderlin looked over his resume, picking out theaters similar to the playhouse and asking Bond if he liked working at those theaters.


"He called back the Colonel and informed him I was the right kind of people," Bond notes.

"Cactus Flower" is a romantic comedy with "a lot of generation-gap playfulness," the director says.

"There are a lot of jokes around misinformation," he explains. "It's a play about a spinster-nurse (played by Marjorie Tatum) who blooms into something special. She's the cactus flower.

"There is a doctor (Paul Angelo) who is chasing after a young girl, who is the passion flower. There's a contrast of the slower-blooming and more worthy cactus flower."

The play appeals to him because "as a rule, I love underdogs."

"I love seeing underdogs come into their own," adds Bond, a first-timer to the Bluegrass State. "That is what is happening with Stephanie (the nurse) in 'Cactus Flower.'"

Directing always has appealed to Bond more than acting. He tried his hand at performing, but never wanted to try harder in order to get better as an actor. He says he called himself "the best of the mediocre actors."

"I felt more inclined to direct," he adds. "I'm kinda shy. But I like my work being seen."

He just doesn't necessarily want to be the center of attention. And actors, he notes, never get to stop and enjoy their work.

Directing at the playhouse presents a few interesting challenges, Bond notes.

"The big challenge is an environment like this," where actors are rehearsing one play during the day and performing a different play at night. "This company of people is very fortunate to get along. They have a short rehearsal period to get off book.

"This has been a huge undertaking. They didn't know who they were playing until I got here. They're performing a play one night, then auditioning the next day, then getting new roles that afternoon. That's just kinda schizophrenic. But it's one of the neat things about here - it keeps it lively."

Liveliness is one reason why audiences will like "Cactus Flower," but there are other appealing aspects as well.

"It's fun, light-hearted and uplifting," Bond explains. "I always like to see the good guy win, and the old fool proven wrong. (The play is) tidy that way. It fills those gaps."

On the Net: James Alexander Bond at

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