Film based on Merritt’s play ‘The Summerland Project’ to premiere in CR on August 4

‘Amelia 2.0,’ based on Rob Merritt’s ‘The Summerland Project,’ premieres Aug. 4. — video still

Rob Merritt, well known throughout the region’s arts, journalism and nonprofit sectors, established himself as a playwright in 2011 when The Summerland Project premiered as part of Theatre Cedar Rapids’ Underground New Play Festival.

The play, about a woman whose consciousness is transferred to a robotic replica of her body, was so well received that TCR staged it again in 2013, this time on the mainstage. That production garnered rave reviews (including from this reviewer).

It also piqued the interest of local filmmaker Adam Orton. On Monday, it was announced that Amelia 2.0, Orton’s film based on the play will premiere Aug. 4 in Cedar Rapids and Los Angeles. A trailer for the film was released this week.

The film packs some star power with Ed Begley Jr. in one of the key roles. But local actors are also central to the movie, including Angela Billman who played Amelia Summerfield in the 2013 stage production and reprises the role in the film. Katy Slaven, the original Amelia in the 2011 staging, also appears.

The trailer has plenty for area audiences to love, including the inclusion of the TCR marquee in one of the movie’s romantic moments, the appearance of two local news anchors, and the transformation of the Cedar Rapids Public Library into a controversial tech company.

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