Ashley Lowery, Deseret News
Dustin Parmley, Aubrey Asay and Sara Robertson rehearse "Never Kiss on a Park Bench" at Valley Center Playhouse in Lindon June 20.

LINDON — Community theater takes a new twist with the musical comedy "Never Kiss on a Park Bench."

The Neil Simonesque play, written by two-time Emmy Award winner Don Crosby, weaves a tale of romance and frustration as a young man, played by Dustin Parmley, eventually finds his true love, all on or around a park bench.

Crosby said the inspiration for the play came from Echo Park, near downtown Los Angeles, where young lovers would meet on park benches near a lake.

Crosby is married to a longtime friend of theater owner Jody Renstrom. After he wrote the play he ran into Renstrom at a reunion. He told her about the play, and she offered to take a look at it.

Renstrom turned the play into a musical with the addition of a few songs, and it made its world debut last week at the tiny theater.

"She really punched it up with the addition of the songs," Crosby said.

The play has a cast of six. Parmley plays the lead while Aubrey Asay plays his girlfriend Mary Lou. Sara Robertson plays Charlie, a young girl Tom meets while waiting on a park bench for his girlfriend.

Other roles are Mack, a police officer played by Seth Valentine; Murphy, a character who escaped from the state mental institution; and Freddy, played by Ray Felix.

Parmley, who also played the lead role in "The Music Man" last year at the SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre in Orem, sings a song with each character.

"It's a fun show," Parmley said. "It's brand new and it had some bugs in it, but we worked them out. It has lots of energy."

Each character has his or her own neurosis, which adds to the charm.

Asay, who traveled with Brigham Young University's Young Ambassadors, sings several short songs with Parmley while delaying her arrival at the park, where his character is waiting to propose to her.

Her favorite part? "I get to slap him," she said.

Robertson carries most of the conversation and adds spunk to the musical.

Crosby retired from the motion picture industry about 10 years ago. He moved to Newport Beach where he got to look at the Pacific Ocean every day. That was good for a while, he said, but then he wanted to do something else. So he started writing.

"The beach is fun," he said, "but it's better to sit there and write."

Crosby began in the film industry delivering mail to many of Hollywood's stars. Eventually he became an apprentice film editor and finally a sound effects editor.

"One of my biggest thrills was when I was asked to duplicate the footsteps of one of my heroes, John Wayne, as he sauntered down the dusty road of a western town in one of his cowboy movies," he said.

Crosby's Emmys were for his work on the television series "Police Story" and the TV movie "The Jimmy Hoffa Story."


If you go . . .

What: Never Kiss on a Park Bench

Where: Valley Center Playhouse, 780 N. 200 East, Lindon

When: 7:30 p.m. nightly through July 26

Cost: $6/$5 students, children and seniors

Phone: 785-1186


E-mail: rodger@desnews.com