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F.W. Gross High School alum turned New York playwright brings show to Victoria

By by CAMILLE M. DOTY - CDOTY@VICAD.COM
Sept. 18, 2011 at 4:18 a.m.

Elsie Williams Spruill

Interested in AUDITIONing:

WHEN: Saturday 1:30-3:30 p.m.

WHERE: Victoria Fine Arts Center Annex, 1002 Sam Houston Drive, Victoria

FOR MORE INFO: Email spruillelsie@hotmail.com

Elsie Williams Spruill loved writing ever since she was a child. Some of her first memories of note taking included creative phone messages to her family.

The girl who once scribbled in her pink journal would grow up to be a playwright in New York.

"I can see my work touches and enhances people," she said.

Spruill described her plays as thought-provoking and funny.

She will produce one of her plays "Lukewarm Saints" in Victoria on Oct. 29.

As an aspiring writer, she started writing plays for churches. And in 1988, the mother of five sons started Straight from the Heart publicity and production company.

The 63-year-old Victoria native has opened plays, such as "I Thought I Heard God Speak" and "The County Office" in large cities.

For the Victoria production of "Lukewarm Saints," which she wrote and will direct and produce, Spruill will cast local actors for 10 parts - two male and eight female.

"I have a lot of faith," she said.

Auditions are Saturday.

The grandmother of 12 said it's important to have a diverse cast.

The two-hour production will take place in Victoria on Oct. 29.

Spruill said the faith-based play was inspired by the Bible verse Revelation 3:15-16.

The main character, "Sister Sold Out," wants total control of the church's Bible study. She gets upset when someone attempts to enter the church clique who doesn't fit her Christian ideals.

Spruill said many can relate to the theme.

"It's a powerful play," she said. "It deals with human nature and giving up control."

"Sister Sold Out's" encounter with God brings about a climatic change.

Spruill enlisted some help from friends in the industry. Actor Richard Brown, who is in the New York cast of the play, and actress/singer Bobbie J. Williams will be in the Victoria production.

Williams' vocal credits include singing background for the Grammy-award winning R&B group, "Earth, Wind, and Fire" and Dionne Warwick.

Williams was also on NBC's sitcom, "Gimme a Break!" and soap opera classic, "The Young and the Restless."

Although Spruill is grateful for Hollywood help, she's equally as delighted to have hometown support.

She came to Victoria in the early summer for a class reunion and her friends convinced her to stay and put on the play.

Zola Porter, who graduated from F.W. Gross High School with Spruill in 1966, was one of these friends.

Porter said her life-long friend is a stellar writer who is wise beyond her years.

"It's good to be home where I grew up. I feel honored," Spruill said.

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