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The St. Kilian Misfits, Barb Strassburg (from left), Andrea Reetz, Kerry Sauer, Tori Bohlke, Jennifer Hinsch, Matt Loosbrock and Gary Nelson, rehearse Friday night for their upcoming production of “The Trouble With Cats.” The plot is about two couples hired to house sit. Throw in a free-loading son, two female carpenters, a cranky neighbor and a trivia buff, and there’s little rest for anyone, except maybe the cat — if only they can find it. Submitted Photo

The Misfits stage ‘The Trouble with Cats’

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ST. KILIAN — For more than a quarter century, the St. Kilian Misfits have served up a tasty meal and hearty helping of laughter with an annual spring dinner theater.

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This year’s presentation, “The Trouble with Cats,” will have four stagings: 6 p.m. on two Saturdays, March 22 and 29; and 5:30 p.m. on two Sundays, March 23 and 30, at St. Joseph Hall in St. Kilian.

Leading the merry band of Misfits this year is Barb Strassburg, who assumed directorial duties from Audrey Brake.

“Audrey is still with us, of course, doing the prompting and helping me through all of this,” said Strassburg. “We never really call it the director. Audrey has always said the cast directs it, and she was just the overseer. The people in the play call me the Boss Lady now. I kind of like it.”

As with all the Misfits’ offerings, “The Trouble with Cats” is a comedy.

“It’s about two couples who are going to house sit for another couple,” explained Strassburg. “Neither one knows the other is coming. One of the couple is, let’s say, from the 1950s and ’60s — quite conservative — and the other couple is more of from the ’60s and ’70s. Their names are Sunshine and River … and they are very liberal. When the owners leave, they leave a card that says ‘Feed PJ six times a day.’ They think PJ is cat. They’re trying to figure out what kind of animal eats five times a day, and they don’t find PJ for quite some time.”

The cast of 11 St. Kilian-area residents is full of veteran players, with one newcomer — Strassburg’s daughter-in-law, Amy Carlberg, who has taken the role of a nun.

“She did the hair and makeup last year, so she got to know the cast,” said Strassburg. “They said, ‘We like her. She would fit.’ You have to fit in with the Misfits.”

The cast began reading through the play at the end of January and started rehearsals in February, although those get-togethers have been hampered by winter weather and other obligations.

“Getting us all together at one time” is the biggest challenge of putting on the annual play, noted Strassburg. “And learning the lines is the other big struggle. I tell them they have to learn their lines.”

St. Kilian resident Gary Nelson has the role of the conservative husband in the play.

“If it’s been 26 years that they’ve been doing this, then I’ve been doing it for 25,” he said. “I think I’ve got the most seniority. It’s just a blast, and making people laugh is something I like to do. I can’t imagine not doing it.”

As he spends a couple of winter weeks in a warmer climate and misses some practices, longtime Misfit Mark Loosbrock now usually takes a smaller role in the play, but still likes to be involved in the production.

“I keep doing it for a couple reasons. The first and foremost one is I have a great time doing it,” Loosbrock said. “Some of the funniest times occur at the practices. I have always felt the greatest gift one can give or receive is the gift of laughter. The second reason is my son, Matt, joined The Misfits about five years ago, and it has been fun to watch him get into character.”

Originally conceived as a way to raise money for the now-closed local Catholic schools, the annual presentation benefits a number of different charitable organizations, with each Misfit member designating a cause.

“We divvy it up equally,” said Strassburg. “No one ever sees a check. They tell me which nonprofit organization they would like to give their share to. A lot of us give it to our churches, and a lot of it goes to hospice, but it’s always a nonprofit organization. They all get the same amount.”

The menu, per usual, will feature pork chops, baked potatoes, cole slaw and dessert, prepared by Randy and Karen Honermann.

“They take care of the kitchen, They make the meal all four nights, and they are fabulous,” credited Strassburg. “We have volunteer groups that come in to serve it.”

Tickets for the dinner theater are already going fast, according to Strassburg. St. Joseph Hall seats 140 people each night, and it’s usually a sellout every night.

For the March 23 performance, Reading Bus Lines will provide transportation to the play from Worthington, Reading, Rushmore and Wilmont.

To reserve tickets for any of the shows and transportation for the March 23 presentation, contact Strassburg, (507) 483-2857.

Daily Globe Features Editor Beth Rickers can be reached at 376-7327.

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Beth Rickers
Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at http://lagniappe.areavoices.com/.  
(507) 376-7327
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