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Reading Community Players presenting ‘Dashing Through the Snow’

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Cast in the Reading Community Players latest production, "Dashing Through the Snow," are Amy Stefferud (front, from left), Marla Somnis, Janice Beckman, Tory Bohlke, Wanda Larson (and back) Mary Brunk, Chip Peters, Tom Feit, Karen Feit and Jill Cuperus. Missing from the photo is Gary Nelson. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)2 / 3
Chip Peters (left) goes over his lines with Janice Beckman while Amy Stefferud looks on. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)3 / 3

READING — The Reading Community Players are taking on a different look for their upcoming production — in more ways than one.

A couple of long-time cast members are taking a break, and a pair of former St. Kilian Misfits have joined in the mayhem that usually occurs on the stage of the Reading Community Center each spring.

They are combining their talents to present a southern-fried Christmas comedy, “Dashing Through the Snow,” April 13-14 and April 20-21. It’s a Jones, Hope and Wooten production — the playwrights that have penned three other comedies the Reading Community Players (RCP) have presented in the past.

“They’re such funny writers,” said Director Sandy Wood. “This one is really funny with a bunch of twists.”

Set in the tiny town of Tinsel, Texas, the play revolves around the guests of the Snowflake Inn, a small bed and breakfast, during the four days leading up to Christmas. Trina Wilcott, portrayed by RCP veteran Marla Somnis, is the innkeeper who has to deal with a bunch of “nuttier than fruitcake” lodgers. Joining her is Lou Ida (Mary Brunk) as the crabby cook.

Cuddles and Binky (Karen and Tom Feit) are the first guests to arrive. Visiting for suspicious, undercover reasons, they have a little rendezvous at the Snowflake Inn.

“Their costumes are just wonderful — funny,” Wood interjected.

Scene 2 moves into the second day, with guests Hoyt Ledford and his sister, Donna Jo Austin, along with their grumpy aunts, Ennis Puckett and Della Crowder (Gary Nelson, Jill Cuperus, Tory Bohlke and Wanda Larson respectively) arriving. Hoyt hopes that by bringing his aunts together at the Snowflake Inn — a place they both dreamed of visiting one day — they will finally resolve a 30-year-long feud.

Act 2, Scene 1 brings in another new set of characters — Ainsley Danforth (Chip Peters) and Lenora Benedict (Amy Stefferud) — in town to act in a Dickens play. They are joined by stage manager Paulette Coogen (Janice Beckman). While at the Snowflake Inn, Ainsley and Lenora are on a mission to spread the ashes of one of Ainsley’s friends, except they are caught by the innkeeper.

In the final scene, Lenora is getting married to her former husband — at the protest of her sisters.

“The bridesmaids are dressed in crazy bridesmaid dresses and the big question is whether the wedding will take place,” Wood said, adding that every scene comes to an “unusual” end.

With 17 character parts and 11 cast members, several RCP members are cast in dual roles, Wood noted.

“It’s a lot of work,” she said. “These people take on one character’s persona and then take on the persona of a totally different character.

“I really commend these folks for all the hard work they’re putting into this,” she added. “It’s fun to see them transform themselves into a totally different person.”

“Dashing Through the Snow,” is a dinner theater production, with the Hi-Lo Club of Lakefield catering a turkey dinner before each evening’s show. Dinner is served at 5:30 p.m., with the play to start at 7 p.m.

All seats are reserved, and tickets can be purchased or ordered in advance by calling Mary Brunk at 370-1007 or 478-4229. Tickets will also be sold at the door, but seats are filled from stage front to the back of the room.

Reading Bus Lines is again offering free round-trip transportation for the first night of the production, April 13. The bus will leave from the Norwood Inn (the former Travelodge), 2015 N. Humiston Ave., Worthington, at 5:30 p.m. To reserve a seat, call Brunk at one of the numbers listed above.

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 The Farm Bleat

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