Jessica Abrams is riding high these days. Her play The Laughing Cow opened two weeks ago at the Meta Theater on Melrose. It’s already won a Pick of the Week from LA Weekly. And now there’s talk of moving it to a larger venue once it completes its run.
Loosely based on her experiences while working as an assistant at Disney, The Laughing Cow follows various characters in the workplace as circumstances bring each of them to a bit of enlightenment. The impetus for this enlightenment stems from a gay lawyer at the fictional Gurnsey Studios writing a truth-telling pamphlet that ultimately gets him fired.
“This really is a story about self actualization,” Abrams told Patch about the first play she’s ever had produced. “It’s a story about finding your own truth and being able to get away from the Muzak of the every day. It can be so constricting.”
She is well aware of the plot similarities to Jerry Maguire, but says it’s all based on things she experienced or observed.
“I first got idea when working at Disney,” said Abrams, a New York City native who was raised in Chapel Hill, NC. “I was walking back to my car and this idea came to me. I felt like it was a way to express a lot of the frustration I had working there and the weirdness all around.”
Producer Sean Riley said he picked the play because it was a different voice expressing important ideas.
“It was just so much fun,” Riley told Patch. “All of the characters were completely living breathing people. They all had their problems, their issues, they were fully fleshed out.”
Riley knew the play would resonate with LA audiences due to the studio setting.
“There’s definitely an insider feel to the play, but not so insider that others can’t relate,” Riley says. “The audience is laughing at all the jokes; they seem to really get this story. And we’re getting a lot of people who aren’t in the business.”
Abrams is enjoying the collaborative experience of seeing her words come to life.
“We did a staged reading about two years ago and another a year ago,” Abrams said. “The whole experience seeing this play take on its own life has been miraculous. I did rewrites, but at some point my writing stopped and this became someone else’s, yet I’m still a part of it. I’ve been working with amazing actors, directors and crew. This has just been a wonderful collaboration.”
The Laughing Cow plays through May 20. Shows are Friday-Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 7 p.m. Meta Theatre on Melrose, 7801 Melrose Ave. (entrance on Ogden Avenue). Tickets are available through the New Leaf Endeavors website.