READING - From a habit-clad nun ready to whack a nervous inn owner with her ruler to a guest encountering an epic fail with a hammock, the comedic farce hitting the stage of the Reading Community Center next week is sure to have people laughing in their seats.
Two years after entertaining audiences with “Farce of Nature,” the Reading Community Theater presents the sequel, “Farce of Habit,” in four dinner theater-style performances April 4-7.
The stage is set at the Reel ’Em Inn lodge in Arkansas, where owners D. Gene and Wanelle Wilburn host some rather interesting characters. Of course, they aren’t without their own quirks - D. Gene (portrayed by Bruce Brunk) has a nervous itching habit, particularly when in the presence of nuns, and Wanelle (Marla Somnis) is a coffee addict.
Add in Sister Myrtle Agnes (Tory Bohlke) with her penchant for whacking D. Gene with a ruler; police officer Maxie Wilburn Suggs (Wanda Larson), who is investigating a murder; the Wilburns’ son, Ty (Scott Brunk), and his wife, Genna Sealy Wilburn (Amy Stefferud), who find out their marriage license was never filed by the now-murdered Justice of the Peace; relationship guru Jock McNair (Jay Myer), who is on the run from his wife, Barbara Stranton (Jill Cuperus); and Huddle Fisk (Chip Peters), who visits the lodge and gets caught up in the mayhem.
All of the cast members are returning to the Reading Community Theater stage with the exception of Myer, a newcomer with past experience with Grassroots Community Theater in Worthington.
The production, written by Jones, Hope and Wooten, starts with the approach of a bad storm that puts the community on lockdown - including the Reel ’Em Inn guests.
“There’s an ax murderer on the loose and Maxie is out trying to find out who has killed the Justice of the Peace,” director Sandy Wood shared.
Meanwhile, Jock McNair is at the lodge just trying to get some rest - or so he says. The radio talk-show personality interjects himself on the backwoods people at the lodge who are driving him crazy, and steps in to suggest Wanelle and D. Gene have a stagnant marriage. The Wilburns soon found out, however, that McNair is on the lam from his wife.
With all that is happening around him, Huddle Fisk - who is “way out of his realm of experience” - is just trying to enjoy everything. He thinks the talk at the lodge about the murder is all part of a big guest murder mystery.
“We have some fabulous costuming going on in this (production),” Wood said. “These people are changing clothes a lot, and there’s just some outrageous outfits.”
As in any farce, Wood said there’s always a surprise ending.
“It’s a true farce - there’s lots of action,” Wood said.
Wood is in her 18th year as director of the Reading Community Theater. She gives a lot of credit to cast members for the time and energy they put into each year’s production.
This will be the first year the production is kept to one weekend with a Sunday matinee, according to Wood. The matinee was offered last year due to the threat of bad weather, and the earlier performance was well liked.
Doors open for the Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening shows at 5:30 p.m. with dinner served prior to the 7 p.m. curtain opening. On Sunday, the show will begin at 3 p.m. with the dinner to follow. The Hi-Lo Club of Lakefield is once again catering the meal, which includes pork roast, potatoes and gravy, green beans, bun and dessert.
To reserve tickets for any of the performances, people are asked to call 370-1007 or 478-4229.
The production is a fundraiser for the Reading Community Center, with revenue from ticket sales used to pay for the heat, lights and insurance on the building.