Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 09 October 2009 00:00
This month will see more action on the Kerouac front as Jack’s Last Call: Say Goodbye to Kerouac, the original play about Jack Kerouac’s last night on Long Island, will be performed at Gunther’s Tap Room in Northport.
This performance of the play, written by Massapequa resident Patrick Fenton, promises to be a special one. In fact, the play itself is set in Gunther’s, a place where Kerouac once drank and played pool during his time on Long Island in the early 1960s. It will be staged on Saturday, Oct. 24, almost 40 years to the date of Kerouac’s death, which took place on Oct. 21, 1969.
The Oct. 24 play will be performed as a tribute to the author of On The Road and numerous other novels. Jack’s Last Call remains a Long Island production, with Fenton as the author and Huntington resident Ed Dennehy as the director.
The play is set during the summer of 1964, as Kerouac, now ready for his ill-fated move to Florida, contemplates his place in American culture. During the play, Kerouac reminisces on the past, reliving the America he once saw while driving alongside his road partner, Neal Cassady, the model for major characters in both On The Road and Visions of Cody, Kerouac’s best-written novel. Once the small going-away party is over, Kerouac continues with his thoughts, reflecting on his literary fame, his youth as a football star in Lowell, MA, while conducting a series of soul-searching phone calls from his estranged daughter, Jan.
As part of the tribute to Kerouac, some stories of his time in Gunther’s will also be shared. Peter Gunther, a friend of Kerouac’s and the owner of the bar, will give his own bittersweet memories.
“[One night] when Jack was broke he gave me as a tip, a signed first edition of one of his books, Visions of Gerard,” Gunther said, speaking of the elegiac novel about Kerouac’s doomed older brother, who died at age 9 from rheumatic fever when Kerouac was only 4 years old. Gunther, regretfully not realizing its future value, parted company with the book.
“I don’t remember who it was, but I gave it away to someone,” he recalled.
The play features Drew Keil as Jack Kerouac; Sue Anne Dennehy as Jan Kerouac; Ed Dennehy as Neal Cassady; Jack O’Connell as Leo Kerouac; Phyllis March as Memere Kerouac, and Stephen Ryan as the Reporter who tells Kerouac’s story.
Sound design is by Sue Zizza of SueMedia Productions with additional mixing and on-site audio engineering by David Shinn and Marc Weiner. Live sound effects are by Butch D’Ambrosio.
A CD of the play, directed and produced for audio by Ms. Zizza, and recorded partly on location at Gunther’s Bar, has been featured on more than 60 public radio stations coast to coast and internationally since its April 1, 2008 release. Copies of the CD can be purchased through the ZBS Foundation.
Jack’s Last Call has been produced at, among other places, Kerouac’s hometown of Lowell and at the Boston Playwright’s Theater. As noted in the Sept. 11 issue of The Massapequan Observer, Fenton was the subject of a profile by longtime New York Daily News columnist Denis Hamill.
On Oct. 24, the play will be staged from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. Gunther’s is located at 84 Main St., Northport. Admission is free, but seating is limited. No reservations are required. For more information, call 658-0423 or visit www.jackslastcall.com.