"Quilters" is a revival with a difference: Different enough, at least, to keep the show fresh.
At least that's the goal of Laurie Vander Pol-Hosek, the show's director, and the cast of "Quilters," the show that leads off the Lawrence Community Theatre's season Thursday.
Vander Pol-Hosek and her cast say they hope the show works differently, and in some ways better, than in September 1989, when the company first performed it.
"One of my songs in the second act last year was kind of down and sad," said Jeannette Bonjour, one of the seven women in the cast. "That was my choice in doing the show last year. Then one night Lori all of the sudden decided to try something different. She told me to find some humor in it, and we went forward with that."
THE SHOW sold out many of its performances last year, prompting the theater group to bring it back.
Written in the early 1980s by Barbara Damashek and Molly Newman, "Quilters" opened originally at the Denver Theatre Center. Despite an aborted production on Broadway, the show has found life in regional and community theaters across the nation.
It chronicles the stories of women on the frontier using quilt squares to suggest songs, scenes and monologues.
"The script is a series of vignettes," Vander Pol-Hosek said. "One block will set off a scene about building a log cabin, and we build one on stage. Another will suggest having a baby, and that sets off a scene about having babies on the prairie, and losing babies as well."
Vander Pol-Hosek said the cast was ready to go back to work on the script.
"BY THE first rehearsal we were all back talking about how to improve upon what we did before," she said. "One of the things we want to do is make it more polished, both in the acting and in the music.
"There were a lot of little things I let go of during the first production to fight the big battles. Now we're going back and picking those things up. Some things will be the same, and others will seem a great deal different."
When she was first developing her approach to directing "Quilters," Vander Pol-Hosek used a book her grandfather wrote about settling an area of South Dakota.
After reading about the book in a newspaper article, an elderly woman called Vander Pol-Hosek, saying she had come from the area and had lived some of the experiences "Quilters'' addresses. The woman came with a friend to see the production last September.
"At the end she was in tears," Vander Pol-Hosek said. "She said it was like her friends had come to life again."
"Quilters" runs Thursday through Sept. 9 at the Lawrence Community Theatre, 1501 N.H. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.