By Bruce Strand, Arts editor
The Elk River Community Theatre board kept cracking up when reading the synopsis of a play they didn’t know existed, called “In-Laws, Outlaws, and Other People (That Should be Shot).”
At first, said director Eileen Anderson said, the group had no intention of taking a chance on a comedy that was written just last year. Community theatre’s usually stick with the proven winners.
“But then we started thinking, if we are all laughing at this, maybe other people will, too,” said Anderson.
ERCT will be showing audiences something new — in fact, this is just the fourth time it’s been done in the U.S. — and are confident it will make them laugh, when they present Steve Franco’s comedy in six performances starting Friday, Nov. 29.
They’ll also be presenting Franco, as the Virginia resident will be in town to make some appearances (see below) and, of course, take in ERCT’s presentation of his creation.
“In-Laws, Outlaws” is the tale of two robbers — high-strung, irritable Tony (Paul Olson) and good-natured, dim-witted Vinny (Jon Rehlander) — busting in on an extended family’s Christmas Eve gathering to hide from the cops.
Tony finds himself exasperated by the hilarious bickering of elderly Uncle Leo and Aunt Rose (Denny Chuba and Gretch Nordman) and by a steam of cheeky insults from teenager Beth Douglas (Emily Bowersox).
Meanwhile, Vinny relaxes and warms to the folks in the house including Beth’s dad (Russ Branjord) and two more in-laws, Bunny and Bud (Bill Bade and Stephanie McAllister) and their daughter Tracy (Elizabeth Budahn), all of whom carry on quite calmly considering their home has been invaded. Vinny is transfixed, along with the ladies, for instance, when Bunny recounts how she met Bud at a bowling tournament.
Added to the mix are Beth’s blue-haired boyfriend Paul (Blair Budahn) and his kid sister (Shelby Swenson) and their mom (Jen Mueller), and a nosy neighbor, Mrs. Draper (Jodi Rehlander). Making late appearances are Mrs. Douglas (Laurie Olson) and, finally, a cop (Shahn Dilks).
The cast hopes the audience has as good a time watching as they’ve had rehearsing.
“Remember the Carol Burnett show, when they couldn’t help laughing during skits?” said Anderson. “Well, that’s how it’s been.”
With all the one-liners, she said the cast is working hard on timing, a key element of comedy.
“Timing is everything,” she said Wednesday. “We’re not there yet, but we will be.”
Franco is described on the web site of his publisher, Samuel French, as an award-winning educator, director, designer and playwright, and teacher of some of Virginia’s brightest actors. Anderson said plans are being made for Franco to visit local high schools’ creating writing classes, the Rotary and a senior citizen’s home.
“IN LAWS, OUTLAWS, AND OTHER PEOPLE (That Should be Shot)”
By Elk River Community Theatre, at Little Theatre, ERHS
Friday, Nov. 29, at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 30, at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 1, at 2 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 6, at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 7, at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 8, 2 p.m.