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Reading Community Players to present 'Rex's Exes'

“Rex’s Exes” cast members (seated in front, from left) Bruce Brunk, Jen Froderman, Amy Stefferud, Marla Somnis, Karen Feit and (standing, from left) Scott Brunk, Chip Peters, Jan Cuperus, Janice Beckman, Linda Kingery and Mary Brunk pose for a photo at the Community Center in Reading. Missing from the photo is Wanda Larson. (BRIAN KORTHALS/DAILY GLOBE)

READING — The Reading Community Players are continually trying to find scripts equally, if not more funny than their last production, and they’ve certainly met the challenge this spring with a “Southern-fried farce” set in the small Texas town of Sweetgum.

The Players will present the Jones Hope Wooten comedy “Rex’s Exes” in dinner theater-style performances on Friday and Saturday evenings, March 21-22 and March 28-29. Doors open at 5 p.m., with dinner served at 5:30 p.m., at the Reading Community Center.

Under the direction of Sandy Wood, the cast of eight women and three men spin a web of stories — from Rex being tracked by a Cajun bounty hunter to Gaynelle, who is down in the dumps about turning 50. Throw in a hypnotist, a TV celebrity, the owner of a wedding gown boutique that caters to large women, a mortuary cosmetologist, a bitter Aunt LaMerle and a pair of sex-crazed senior citizens and it’s a virtual recipe for hilarity.

“We really are all about funny humor,” said Wood. “I read play scripts a lot, and when I read this one, I just laughed on every page. I can just visualize our cast members portraying certain parts.”

The play centers around a trio of Verdeen cousins and their little crises. For starters, Peaches’ husband Rex is presumed dead, but somehow manages to keep surfacing during the production, while Gaynelle absolutely doesn’t want any celebration for her milestone birthday. Meanwhile, Jimmie Wy’s store, Wide Brides, has found great success and she’s excited to be recognized by the First Lady of Texas for her entrepreneurial efforts.

The girls’ uncle, Aubrey, chases Mama Doll around the stage and Aubrey’s sister, LaMerle, is just a bitter old woman determined to tell the First Lady the family’s secrets.

Then there’s Rex, whose own secrets are divulged about his past and various relationships. He’s being chased by a bounty hunter because he’s wanted for bad debt.

“It’s one chaotic thing happening after another,” Wood said with a laugh.

Last, but certainly not least, is Gentle Harmony, who tries to hypnotize people to help them get through some of their emotional issues, but the wrong people always seem to be getting hypnotized.

All of this happens on the 12-foot by 20-foot stage in the former Reading school gymnasium.

“We pack a lot of humor into this square footage,” Wood said.

This is the 14th annual production for the Reading Community Players, and this year’s production includes several new and returning cast members.

Familiar faces include Karen Feit (Gaynelle), Amy Stefferud (Peaches), Marla Somnis (Jimmie Wy), Mary Brunk (Mama Doll), Chip Peters (Aubrey), Wanda Larson (Aunt LaMerle), Bruce Brunk (Rex) and Scott Brunk (the bounty hunter).

New to the stage are Jennifer Froderman (Bitsy), Jan Beckman (CeeCee) and Linda Kingery (Marlissa Crutchfield).

“They’re doing really well,” said Wood. “It’s so hard to find people who are willing to come in and put that amount of time and effort into something like this in the boonies out there in Reading.”

Wood said the new cast members add “some new life and new dimension” to the play to add to the energy of returning players.

Rehearsing since early January, Wood said the cast members really like their parts and can identify with their characters.

“They’re really having a good time with it,” she added. “It is a shorter play for us … and it is a bigger cast.”

The Hi-Lo Club of Lakefield is again catering the dinner, which will include pork loin with green beans, potato and dinner roll.

For tickets to see Rex’s Exes, call Bruce Brunk at 478-4229 or 370-3341.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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