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Three middle-aged, former tenacious colorguard champion best friends are forced to examine the lives they ended up with instead of the lives they wished for.
‘Backseat Debutantes’ is about the lives we end up with rather than the lives we wished for when we were young.
It’s March, in the rural/suburban township of Vestal, New York. A once vibrant community filled with IBM professionals, is now almost empty since the plant closed. Some of the few who’ve remained are three thirty-something best friends and former high school Colorguard champions – Ray Ann, April and Maureen. Their fourth best friend, Olive, is flying back home from Los Angeles in a week to join them in being honored at the Winterguard’s annual home competition show. During their time in Winterguard, the four friends we so tenacious, they were given the nickname, ‘The Four Horsemen’ and brought the school it’s first state championship win their senior year.
Known as the sport of the arts, Winterguard is an off shoot of marching band, using only the Colorguard (banners and rifles) inside, on a gymnasium floor combining traditional marching, choreography, and equipment work together against recorded music to present a dazzling seven-minute show.
Back then, the best friends lived and breathed Winterguard but now, fifteen years later, they’ve forgotten what it feels like to push so hard, you made your dreams come true. Plus, with being honored and having Olive visit, Ray Ann, April and Maureen are being forced to revisit the past, which is thrusting long hidden issues out and amplifying lost opportunities. And because she didn’t let anything get in her way of getting out of town, Olive’s three other best friends believe she will magically have the answers to all their problems when she arrives. Though, the unrelenting winter snow might have other plans for Olive.
Maureen became a wife and mother way before she wanted to and now resents herself for pushing those career goals aside for her family duties. April trudges her days along as a guidance counselor, desperate for prince charming to sweep her off her feet and take her away from living at home with her alcoholic parents. Ray Ann made it out to New York City and was building an impression acting career until she was pulled back to care for her sick mother, something her irresponsible and drug addict younger brother won’t do. And they all can’t wait to see Olive, who fearlessly left town to follow her dreams in Hollywood.
Playing in the background is a big town theft. The local McDonald’s playground 6’ statues of Hamburglar and Grimace are missing. Local policeman, Bill Yates (a former classmate of the Horseman with a big crush on Ray Ann), suspects it’s the university college kids staying in town for Spring Break. Though Hamburglar is quickly found, the giant purple monster is still gone and Bill is tasked with finding it before war breaks out between the townies and the college kids.
Ray Ann escapes the torment of her home life by sleeping in her car wherever she ends up. And also when the love of her life, ex-football quarterback Jim, doesn’t call. Jim is married; with a kid he conceived when he cheated on Ray Ann with his ex-cheerleader girlfriend. Not an ideal situation, but Jim is the only bright spot in Ray Ann’s life and their bond is too strong to walk away from. Jim has a plan to leave his wife, after his kid goes to college, but that’s in four years. Ray Ann isn’t going anywhere since she’s the sole caregiver to her mother and thus, puts up with the situation. But the stress of working, dealing with an abusive brother, taking care of her sick mom and not being able to live her dream is taking its toll on her. So when her mom suddenly passes away, Ray Ann forces Jim’s hand – leave with her now or give up the life they talked about. Sadly, Jim doesn’t have the balls, which breaks Ray Ann’s heart but doesn’t deter her from following in Olive’s footsteps.
Believing her old hook-up buddy Matt is the one, April regularly stalks him. Probably because it’s easier to desire the unattainable than try for a real relationship. Either way, April’s alcoholic parents, whom she lives with, doesn’t offer much hope for a happy ending. A teacher at her school, Kevin, cracks April’s shell slightly after a night of drinking but when she wakes up in his car in a parking lot, she feels only shame. Soon, though, Matt makes April face her demons with him when he threatens arrest if she doesn’t stop stalking him. But when April’s dad finally gives up and leaves her mother, it puts April into an emotional corner and forces her to take a long, hard look at who she’s really trying to be. Once she does, though, the universe rewards her by revealing that her prince charming was standing in front of her all along.
Maureen hates her life. Once on a straight career path, she was derailed when love got in the way. She adores her husband Tom and their two kids dearly but for her, it’s not enough. Whenever she can, she sneaks down to her basement to write and sends off a sample packet to a Hollywood writing program. With the home show approaching, old friends and lovers are showing up including Maureen’s old high school boyfriend, Will. He reminds her of who she was and what she wanted before she got married and had kids and offers to take her away with him. Before she can make a decision, Ray Ann and April catch Maureen making out with Will in his car in the Denny’s parking lot, throwing Maureen into a deeper whirlwind. Maureen must decide what life she wants – Wife and Mother or Writer. When she’s accepted into the writing program, the answer is clear. Though hard, Maureen leaves her supportive family so she can pursue her writing dreams and eventually, come back to them a whole person.
Because of bad weather, Olive never makes it back for the Winterguard home show or to fix her friend’s problems. The good thing is, just the anticipation of Olive and what she represents, ends up being enough for Ray Ann, April and Maureen to own up to the truths they hide inside. And in the end, they all come back together to help and honor who they once were as well as who they’ve now become. Along the way Grimace is found, hanging out in the woods behind McDonald’s all along, making everything right in the world.
‘Backseat Debutantes’ is about carrying confidence, courage and class through your life so that as women, we have the courage to honor our dreams.
Top-10 Finalist, FINAL DRAFT BIG BREAK, 2011Top 21-31%, Nicholl Fellowship, 2013
*Quarter-finalist, 16th FADE IN AWARDS, 2011