Bestselling author R. Eric Thomas stages 'Backing Track' at Arden Theatre

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Arden Theatre in Old City just returned to live audiences and is staging a world premiere from a bestselling author and two-time Barrymore winner. Karen Rogers has the story in this week's 6abc Loves the Arts.

Backing Track is a comedy by nationally acclaimed writer and humorist R. Eric Thomas.

"There's a young man, late to mid early 30s, and he moves home to be with and care for his mother who's recently widowed," says Thomas.

The son, Avery, left his job working as a karaoke instructor on a cruise ship.

"Karaoke is a big theme in the play and there is a lot of actual karaoke," says Rebecca Wright, the plays Director.

You can expect to hear some favorites.

"There's a lot of nostalgia. Every song is gonna hit everybody differently," says Associate Director Alexandra Espinoza.

Avery finds love on a dating app.

"It's a little Jane Austen, a little Nora Ephron," says Thomas.

Thomas is known for books like Here for It and How to Save Your Soul in America.

"I co-wrote a biography of Representative Maxine Waters called Reclaiming Her Time," says Thomas.

The award-winning playwright got his start in Philadelphia, now he's writing for TV.

"Dickinson on Apple TV+, and the show Better Things on FX," says Thomas.

Backing Track was planned to run before the pandemic.

"It'll be my first rehearsal process, live in-person," says Wright, "The power of live theater."

"The energy is really electric right now," says Thomas.

The themes are timely.

"The play touches on gentrification, climate change; How do we take care of our neighborhood?

"That feels really resonant for a lot of neighborhoods and communities in Philly," says Espinoza.

"Now that we are trying to rebuild the bridges between each other," says Thomas.

The title, Backing Track, refers to the background track in karaoke.

"That source of support when you're doing something hard," says Espinoza.

And it's a comedic tale about finding community in the face of loss and change.

"What's not to love?" says Espinoza.

Backing Track will be playing at the Arden's Arcadia Stage through April 10th.
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