"Cuzzin Eddie" takes center stage




Local playwright Michael Forney’s new stage play centers around a familiar character.

Forney’s comedy-drama “Who Stole Cuzzin Eddie’s Scratch Off Ticket” will be performed Saturday at Packard Music Hall.

It centers around Cuzzin Eddie, a town drunk-type who first appeared last year as comic-relief in Forney’s previous effort, the heavy family drama “I Was Fine Before I Met You.”

In the new production, which is much lighter in tone than its predecessor, Cuzzin Eddie is elevated to main character. He and his poor family have won $10 million on a lottery ticket. But the problem is, someone swiped the ticket before he could cash it in.

The cast includes Ram Torres in the title role, plus Michelle McMillan, Olivia Queener, Shba Cochrane, Blair Floyd, Mike Taylor and John Rudolph. Forney is the director.

“Cuzzin Eddie” is the third play that Forney has written and produced. He started with “He Loves Me, She Loves Me Not,” also in 2012. His first two offerings were staged at Powers Auditorium in Youngstown.

A buzz has surrounded “Cuzzin Eddie” for the past month or so, as anticipation builds among fans of Forney’s Hot Topix Productions.

Forney said the popularity of Cuzzin Eddie in “I Was Fine” spurred him to give people more of the character. “The audience loved him, and I immediately took notice of that, which prompted me to write something about him,” said Forney, who calls the play an animated comedy filled with laughs that unfold along with the mystery posed in the title. “Cuzzin Eddie is the town drunk and a little poor, but he seems to enjoy his circumstances,” said Forney.

The script encourages people to recognize how unique — and hilarious — other people in society can be. “They may be poor, homeless or just having it rough, and even though they may seem to be miserable, they have an interesting way of seeing the world around them,” said Forney.

With the much-publicized violence gripping Warren, another goal of “Cuzzin Eddie” is to lighten the mood. “With all the crime and negativity going on around us, I felt it was time for everyone to have a good laugh,” said Forney.

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