Getting melodramatic: Over-the-top play one of the highlights of Pioneer Village festivities
WORTHINGTON -- There will be a whole lot of booing and hissing going on Saturday at Worthington's Pioneer Village. But the sounds shouldn't be construed as a negative review of the historic site. Attendees of the annual melodrama production are e...
WORTHINGTON - There will be a whole lot of booing and hissing going on Saturday at Worthington’s Pioneer Village. But the sounds shouldn’t be construed as a negative review of the historic site. Attendees of the annual melodrama production are encouraged to voice - loudly and with gusto - their displeasure for the play’s villains.
“They ham it up and have a lot of fun,” said Shari Nelson, a veteran director of the melodrama staged annually in conjunction with the Old-Fashioned Fourth of July festivities at Pioneer Village.
This year’s play is titled “Dora, the Beautiful Dishwasher, or The Heroine Who Cleaned Up!” Although the same play has been used at previous Fourth celebrations, Nelson promises her cast will make the plot seem fresh for the audience.
“My philosophy is let the actors develop their own characters and see where we go,” she said. “I’ve also found that each time we do a melodrama, it may be the same title, but it’s not necessarily the same play. They put their own spin on it.”
In addition to the villain, played by Braden DeSmith, “Dora” also has a villainess (Anya Hartzler). Anya is joined in the cast by her dad, Dave Hartzler, who portrays a “wise lawyer,” according to Nelson. After a brief absence from the cast, Heather Johnson returns to tackle the title role of Dora, the heroine. The role of the hero, Hector Hyacinth, is portrayed by Isaac Wass.
Rounding out the ensemble are Megan Wass, Jolene Kuhl, Amanda Cook and Riley Widboom, who is following in the theatrical footsteps of his grandfather, John Widboom, who for many years was the melodrama’s villain. Riley has the important task of cueing the audience for those boos and hisses at the appropriate time.
The melodrama will be presented twice, at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, in the village’s Big Barn.
Meanwhile, a lot of other events will happen at other venues throughout the grounds.
Jim Krapf, a retired local pastor, will read excerpts from the book, “The Letters of a German American Farmer,” at 10 and 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the large church. The Okabena church choir will perform at 10 a.m. in the small church.
In the village hall, John Galstad will display about 100 of his railroad scale models from his personal collection while also sharing history, humor and photos from his lifelong interest in railroads.
A committee from the Nobles County Historical Society is collecting information about Nobles County rural schools and will share the information gathered so far, appropriately, in the schoolhouse.
Heritage demonstrators and vendors will be stationed throughout the grounds.
“All the buildings will be open, and the gift shop will be open in the office,” noted Nobles County Historical Society President Jacoba Nagel. “While the melodrama is going on, there will be popcorn in the barn for people to enjoy while they are watching the play. There will also be food in the fire hall - burgers, hot dogs, root beer floats - Fourth of July-type food.”
Food will also be available nearby at the tractor pull site, part of the Prairie Reapers Power Reunion, scheduled each year in conjunction with the Independence Day celebration. This year’s featured tractor is the Minneapolis Moline, although all tractors are welcomed for display. Prairie Reapers events include a kiddie pedal pull at 10 a.m.; tractor pull at 11 a.m.; tractor parade at noon; slow tractor race at 2 p.m.; kiddie train rides and tractor display all day; and a watermelon feed in the afternoon.
Pioneer Village, operated by the Nobles County Historical Society, is located next to the Nobles County Fairgrounds on the north edge of Worthington. Saturday’s celebration will go from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.