Anyone looking for a healthy dose of laughter will find plenty to go around at Swift Current Little Theatre’s fall production.
The non-profit community theatre group will be performing the highly entertaining comedy Unnecessary Farce by New York playwright Paul Slade Smith, starting Nov. 28.
It is directed by Swift Current Little Theatre veteran Ken Johnson, who found the concept of the play appealing when the group considered ideas for a fall production.
“Two cops. Three crooks. Eight doors. Go. And that pretty much says it all,” he mentioned.
It has a cast of seven characters and all the action takes place in two adjacent bedrooms of a cheap motel, where two inept undercover cops are trying to catch a shady mayor.
Their aim is to videotape the mayor’s meeting with his female accountant, but confusion quickly rules when it is not clear who took the money, who hired a hit man, and why the accountant keeps taking off her clothes.
“We always like comedies for fall productions,” he said. “Farces always seem to go over well, especially around the Christmas season with office party time. It’s one that seems to be acceptable to a wide range of tastes. It’s nothing heavy as far as dramatic, and it requires some good comedic timing.”
There is mix of experienced and younger actors in the cast, which includes some familiar faces to anyone who had been to a previous Little Theatre production.
“We’ve got some really good comedians involved in this one,” he noted. “People know Kurtis Bakanec and his ability to make people laugh. Miranda Woodrow and Sean Finell have been together before on stage and they’re all pros at it, and Ron Toles is a veteran. He does an excellent job in his role as the mayor. So it’s a matter of finding some new people who have a talent and we think we’ve done that with this one.”
Bakanec is in the role of agent Frank, a security guard. Finell is Todd, the hitman, and Woodrow is Karen Brown, the accountant. Toles is in the role of Mayor Meekly and his wife Mary is played by Karen Schommer, who is now on stage after previously helping out backstage.
Adam Unvoas as Eric Sheridan, the lead cop, and Carina Rampold as the other cop are making their debut on stage with Swift Current Little Theatre.
“The aim is to involve at least two or three new people in every production, because we’re finding that we consistently lose people from the group,” Johnson said. “They either retire, move away or move on to other things.”
He did his first production with Swift Current Little Theatre in 1989, and since then he has been involved in a variety of roles as actor and he has directed many times.
“Sometimes it’s difficult to find new challenges and different things, but I think it helps every time you’re dealing with new people and new actors coming on, and giving them the benefit of your experience and trying to get the best out of them in terms of what they’re doing on stage,” he said.
One of the challenges of this production is that the script did not come with a floor plan, which made the blocking of scenes more complicated.
“Blocking this without having a finalized set and where everything was going to be, and coming up with a floor plan before we started blocking was a little difficult without an idea where all eight doors are and where all the action goes and how you can set it up for the stage in the area you’ve got,” he explained.
There was also the issue of scheduling rehearsals with a cast of seven people who have other responsibilities to take care off in their lives. The actors face a specific challenge when they are on stage, because dialogue takes place in two adjacent rooms.
“There’s a lot of dialogue where somebody is saying something in the other room and you have to be ever mindful that they’re not in the room with you, but you have to hear when they finish their line before you say your line,” he said.
It requires a lot of preparation by the actors to ensure there is no overlap of dialogue during scenes in the two rooms.
“They memorize,” he said. “They have to know what their cue line is. So you have to memorize your lines and everybody else’s. That’s basically how it works.”
According to Johnson there is a feeling of excitement among the members of the group about their upcoming fall production.
“It’s great to have a comedy that should be very pleasing to the audience,” he said. “So we’re excited about it. We’re hoping that it goes well. We kind of need a shot in the arm in order to get some more excitement back and some more people back into the group. We’re confident this is the production that will do that.”
Swift Current Little Theatre is always looking for new members to join the group, and there is usually something to do during a production that will fit in with a person’s interest.
“I think for anybody who’s involved in a production, it’s the excitement of the audience that catches you, that captivates you, and keeps you coming back,” he said. “It’s a lot of work and you don’t see a lot of the payoff until the end, but it’s also a lot of fun for the group when they’re rehearsing. We try to have a little bit of fun while we’re doing it. So it’s a social activity. It’s a creative activity. It gives you an opportunity to use your creative juices. But the payoff is usually in that opening night, when you finally hear that all that work is actually worth it, and that your audience is happy with what you’ve done.”
There will be five performances of Unnecessary Farce, starting with the regular performance on Nov. 28, a dinner theatre on Nov. 29, and pub nights on Nov. 30, Dec. 6 and 7. Ticket prizes are $10 for the regular performance, $20 for pub nights, and $40 for dinner theatre (advance tickets only). Tickets are available at Pharmasave. All performances take place at the Beatty Playhouse in the Great Plains College gymnasium.