Former longtime resident Kelly Hines, who says she will always be a “Hull girl,” is having her turn in the spotlight.
She is starring in a “proof of concept” (similar to a pilot, but not as polished) for a light-hearted, Cape Cod-based sitcom created by Hingham resident Kristen Arute in partnership with the Company Theatre. And to underscore the hometown-girl theme, some footage was filmed on Nantasket Beach last week.
The title of the potential sitcom is “Combers,” short for “Beachcombers.”
“I wanted to do something locally, and Kelly being from Hull and the Cape-like quality of Nantasket Beach came together nicely,” Arute explains of her film project.
The purpose of a proof of concept is to demonstrate the feasibility of a particular project. In this case, it is a potential situation comedy featuring a funny, bubbly, Lucille Ball-type main character, Peggy, with Hines in that role. Arute wrote the script.
“It has been very nice getting back into an acting role and finding that the performing arts are alive and well,” says Hines, who has a background in theater going back to her Hull middle and high school days.
Now a Braintree resident and director of Thayer Academy’s theater program, Hines recalls belting out “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” during an audition for “Annie” in the seventh grade.
Her theater experience in school in Hull clearly had an impact on her professional life. “I can trace my career back to those times, which built a foundation for my future work in theater,” Hines says. “This was the beginning of my finding a sense of acceptance and freedom with creative, like-minded people. It was and continues to be a world I love.”
In the “Combers” film, Peggy, a wife and mother of two grown children, is passionate about her life, often finding herself in predicaments of her own making and trying to find a way out. Peggy owns a gift shop, and her best friend, Martine, has a cafe a couple of doors away.
“The sitcom is about Cape life and Peggy’s antics, and Kelly does an amazing job in that role,” Arute says. “Given the current [COVID-19 challenge], I believe that people are looking for entertainment that doesn’t involve any heavy lifting – something they can relate to that gives them some laughs.” Peggy’s husband, Frank, is played by Jim Colliton, a stand-up comedian.
The idea for this project emerged when Arute, who minored in theater in college, took walks near her family’s place in Truro on Cape Cod and observed amusing things happening around her.
“I thought to myself, ‘This would make a good TV show,’ so I started thinking in those terms and taking notes about different scenarios I experienced that I thought were interesting,” she says.
Writing down those ideas proved to be time well-spent when Arute decided to reach out to Company Theatre co-founder Zoe Bradford during a slow time of virtual and outdoor performances due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I asked if I could rent some of the space and collaborate with them on the ‘Combers’ production,” Arute recalls. “Zoe was excited about the opportunity, and we came to an agreement.”
Arute was pleased to find that the stage was already set up as a house, exactly what she needed for the sitcom, with assistance from the stage designer in transforming it into a more Cape-like look. The Company Theatre lobby was redesigned as Peggy’s shop.
In the Nantasket Beach footage, Peggy is picking up shells and having a nice time in her own happy place. “I was delighted that a scene was filmed there,” says Hines, who often returns to Nantasket Beach. “The sand between my toes always makes me feel that I’ve arrived home. I’m a hometown girl.”
Now that the filming is complete, Corey Cadigan, who plays the role of Peggy’s shop assistant, Warren, is doing the post-production work, putting together a one-half-hour package.
Once complete, Arute will seek out a production company with the interest and bandwidth to take on such a project.
Zoe Bradford, who did the casting, directing, and hiring of the director of photography for “Combers,” recommended Hines for the role of Peggy, which she accepted with enthusiasm.
“I really relate to my role as Peggy, who is a zany animal lover like me,” says Hines, the happy owner of two exuberant dogs.
In addition to leading the Duxbury “Kid Spots” summer theater arts program for many years, along with other theater-related roles elsewhere, Hines has a long history with Company Theatre.
She has performed in many productions there, including “It’s a Wonderful Life” as Mary, and as Betty in “White Christmas,” along with participating in some ensemble productions. “I love being the third alto from the left singing as part of a larger group of compassionate people, raising our voices together. That’s at the heart of it,” Hines says.
A June screening of the film at the Company Theatre is planned.