A ghost of Hollywood’s past will be haunting one Clarks Summit’s businesses this weekend.
Don’t let the title fool you, Jason Miller’s one-man play “Barrymore’s Ghost” is very much alive.
The tale of John Barrymore, an acclaimed actor and husband four times over, is being told through late playwright Jason Miller’s one-man play, “Barrymore’s Ghost” at Duffy’s Coffee House, 312 S. State St., Clarks Summit, on Aug. 31.
Miller’s account of Barrymore’s life isn’t all glitz and glamour, it also takes Miller’s own life into consideration, including the downward spiral he took amid fame, fortune and addiction, according to the star of this weekend’s production.
Portraying the titular Barrymore is Clarks Summit resident Bob Hughes, 73, who was also a friend of Miller’s.
“Miller and I go back 50-60 years, and this play is really his last artistic effort,” Hughes said.
Miller, who passed in 2001, chronicles Barrymore’s life of fame, specifically the negative aspects of it. Behind the facade of fame and fortune lies the true face of self-absorption in art, struggles with alcoholism, losing family and friends, and selling his soul for gain.
“Barrymore was the original Elvis, so to speak, in terms of fame and fortune.” Hughes described. “It’s really about how he lost his dignity.
“Miller is writing about Barrymore, but who he’s really writing about is himself,” Hughes continued. “Celebrity is the ultimate narcotic. Some people can’t handle it. Miller certainly couldn’t.”
Hughes actually only discovered “Barrymore’s Ghost” within the past couple of months. He began acting in his early 20s , performing in such locations as New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia.
Hughes previously portrayed Miller in a biographic play based on his life titled “Go Irish! The Purgatory Diaries of Jason Miller” at the former Electric Theatre Company on Spruce Street, Scranton.
“After performing all over, I did ‘Go Irish!’ for June’s Second Friday just for reactions, and they loved it,” Hughes said.
Considered by Hughes to be Miller’s finest work, he describes “Barrymore’s Ghost” as a “very well written play” and that “anyone can breathe life into it.”
“No one will do it if I don’t. Not because I’m so terrific, but because they won’t take the time to do it,” said Hughes. “You really have to react to what you just said and listen to what you’re saying. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done as an actor.”
The play takes center stage Saturday, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. It is being offered as a free reading for the community.