There’s always plenty of laughter to be heard when a new “Don’t Hug Me” play opens at the Jon Hassler Theater in Plainview.
But the Oct. 23 opening of the latest installment, “Don’t Hug Me, We’re Married,” will likely come with some tears as well.
That’s because “Don’t Hug Me, We’re Married,” will be the last play to be presented at the Hassler before the theater portion of the building is closed at the end of November.
“It’s sad,” said Phil Olson, the Minnesota native-turned Los Angeles playwright who has presented his “Don’t Hug Me” plays in Plainview. “This is my favorite venue in the country, and I’m not just saying that. I don’t know how to fill the void.”
Before the void, though, comes the laughter, and “Don’t Hug Me, We’re Married,” which Olson will only reveal involves a double wedding and the return of Gunner’s twin sister, Trigger. That should provide the usual portion of downright silliness. Songs, written by Olson’s brother, Paul, include “The Greatest Love Song Ever,” “The Marriage Test” and “The Day that Bob Dylan Was in Here.”
“Here,” in this case, refers to the bar in fictional Bunyan Bay, Minn., where all the action in the “Don’t Hug Me” plays takes place.
Los Angeles audiences were charmed when the show debuted there two weeks ago.
“It went very well,” Phil Olson said. “The audiences are different in Los Angeles than they are in Minnesota. But I was pleasantly surprised that the response was so good in L.A. They’re usually more judgmental and elitist.
“But,” he continued, “they’ve been educated in the ways of ‘Don’t Hug Me.’ You know, ‘This is the way it is and I’ve got to set my channel to that.'”
Olson described the show as “a fun romp,” which could just as easily apply to the previous plays in the series: “Don’t Hug Me,” “A Don’t Hug Me Christmas Carol,” “A Don’t Hug Me County Fair” and “Don’t Hug Me I’m Pregnant.”
All of the shows have been huge hits at Plainview, which is another reason Olson is sorry that Dean and Sally Harrington, who have run the theater for years, have decided to close it.
“It’s a town of 3,000 people, and we had 6,000 people at the last ‘Don’t Hug Me,'” Olson said. “We doubled the population of the town. The theater-going audience is so wonderful my plays.”
Like others who have presented plays at the Hassler, Olson sings the praises of the Harringtons.
“Dean and Sally have been so wonderful over the years,” he said. “It’s like a family there.”
In this case, the family that laughs together might also shed a tear together.