April 20, 2013 7:09:37 PM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
When Columbus Community Theatre audiences last saw the "Casserole Patrol" gang, the once eligible widower in their midst was off to marry his new bride -- and single women "of a certain maturity" in fictional "Possum Town" had resorted to duct-taping their rivals to chairs to gain a headstart to the next bachelor.
Comedic characters from the CCT's July 2012 production return to the Rosenzweig Arts Center's Omnova Theater in "A Casserole Patrol Wedding" April 23 and April 25-28.
Some new faces join the cast of 11 women and four men who bring to life Neshoba County writer Laura Cole Thrash's second of four plays in her Casserole series. Each is inspired by the Southern tradition of women bringing casseroles to widowers in hopes of sparking a new romance.
"We had so much fun doing 'Casserole Patrol' last summer, and after we went to Philadelphia to see their community theater do 'A Casserole Patrol Wedding,' we knew we had to do the next one in the series," said the play's director, Linda Bobbitt. "In this one, we meet Geraldine, the Colonel's new wife, and her brother, Doc. They come to town and cause quite a stir." And no, the wedding referred to in the play's title isn't the Colonel's; audiences will have to wait until Act II to learn who is destined for hilarious wedded bliss, said Beverly Norris, stage manager.
Anyone who missed the play last July will have no trouble at all enjoying this one, said Linda Hebert, who reprises her role as the aging hippie, Wilma Jane. In auditions, she had her eye on a different role.
"We read for different parts, but Linda, our director, has chosen the perfect character for each of us to match our personalities -- it's amazing," she said, adding that the cast is now "almost like a little family."
Pam Russell of Columbus portrays Geraldine; it's her first acting stint since college. "But I taught school for 32 years, so I know drama," she laughed. Geraldine, a displaced Southern belle, has been living in North Dakota. "The Colonel is bringing me back South, to his town, where the women move from one widower to the next. I'm a little bit more 'classy' and trying to impress everybody."
As a teacher of gifted students at New Hope Elementary School, Spence Andrews is accustomed to enacting storybook characters, even donning a costume when called on. But this is his first acting gig for community theater. Fellow faculty (and cast) members Carol Davidson and Terry Coffey encouraged him to join the troupe.
The level of commitment and time required have been a revelation, Andrews said. "But I've had just a blast getting to work with the cast and am looking forward to the play starting up. I hope we get a very good turnout because it's going to be entertaining."
Everyone interested should give community theater a try, said Russell, urging civic involvement. "The opportunities are there. I went into this knowing four of the cast members. Now I've gotten to know 10 more and joined the Columbus Arts Council."
The cast also includes David Coffey, Gwin Edie, Paulette Garton, Vickie Hill, Midge Maloney, Warren Nybo, Jacquie O'Bryant, Nancy Wheeley, Lisa Wright and Tracy Wright.
Audiences can expect some surprises at each performance, promised Bobbitt, adding, "I've loved every play I've ever done, but this has to be the best camaraderie of any cast I've worked with. They enjoy each other, play off one another; they just have a great time. They're willing to give, in essence to give to their community, to entertain their community," the veteran director remarked. "We invite everyone to come experience this play with such memorable characters."
How to go
"A Casserole Patrol Wedding" will be presented at 7 p.m. at the Rosenzweig Arts Center, 501 Main St., Tuesday, April 23, and Thursday through Saturday, April 25-27, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 28.
Tickets are $10 in advance at the arts center, and $12 at the door, if available. Seating is limited. For tickets or more information, contact the Columbus Arts Council, 662-328-2787.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.