You might be surprised by the play Dayton audiences loved most at FutureFest

A scene from “Magnificent Hubba Hubba,” which won the top at award at FutureFest 2017. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ART FABIAN
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A scene from “Magnificent Hubba Hubba,” which won the top at award at FutureFest 2017. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ART FABIAN

An over-the-top comedy about two over-the-hill female wrestlers has taken the top award at a festival of new plays held this weekend here in Dayton.

“Magnificent Hubba Hubba” by New York playwright Olga Humphrey was selected as FutureFest’s winner by the panel of five professional out-of-state adjudicators. The play also was chosen as this year’s “Audience Favorite.”

Presented as one of six finalists at the Dayton Playhouse’s annual festival of new and unproduced plays, the two-act comedy focuses on a brassy and downtrodden old-time female wrestler and her longtime archrival. A teenage boy tracks them down, determined to set up the “rematch of the century” between the two foes.

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Playwright Olga Humphrey of New York accepts the top prize at FutureFest 2017 for her comedy, “Magnificent Hubba Hubba.” The play also won the “Audience Favorite” award. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ART FABIAN
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Playwright Olga Humphrey of New York accepts the top prize at FutureFest 2017 for her comedy, “Magnificent Hubba Hubba.” The play also won the “Audience Favorite” award. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ART FABIAN

Humphrey, who has written films and television shows as well as a number of other plays, said she got the idea for this play while flipping through a magazine in a New York bookstore and spotting a story about two famous female wrestlers who were still popular.

Adjudicator Ashley Rodbro — a New York based director, writer, producer and stage manager — said that the play was chosen because it was a fresh voice, “a really original piece that the audience connected with. It was sharp and intelligent.”

The comedy, fully staged on Saturday night and directed by Annie Pesch, featured Becky Howard as the fiery and foulmouthed Lucille, Fran Pesch as her more lady-like — but fierce-in-the-ring — rival, and David Hallowren as ex-husband to both wrestlers.

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Hannah Stickel, a Troy High School graduate and sophomore at Kent State University, played Lulu and Thomas L. Troutman, who spent the past nine years touring with the group, Zapp,” played Ron, the teenage promoter.

“This is the best chemistry with a cast I’ve ever experienced,” said Troutman, who began acting at the age of 5.

“It’s very exciting that you’re honoring a comedy,” said the tearful and soft-spoken playwright when accepting the award on Sunday evening. “Sometimes it’s hard for a comedy to get appreciation.”

Humphrey said she’d been impressed by all of the plays introduced over the weekend and had learned something from each one. “It’s a tough, lonely and hard profession and sharing it makes it very special,” she told the audience. “I’ve made some wonderful new friends here. I couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful birth of my play.”

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