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Community theatre returns to Phillips County in fine fashion PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt   
Hijinks and hilarity hit the stage last weekend when Phillips County Arts Council brought back community theatre.

It was a weekend of fun Aug. 7-9 when The Curious Savage was performed in Haxtun Friday night and at a dinner theatre in Holyoke Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.

Four communities were represented in the cast of 11 characters, as actors and actresses hailed from Holyoke, Haxtun, Amherst and Wray.

Doug Kamery made a name for himself as he embraced his first directing experience for the Phillips County Arts Council. Quick to give away credit, he emphasized he couldn’t be more grateful to the acting group for making the experience such a joy.

More than a simple comedy, the show was about family.

Karen Swan was exquisite in her role as Ethel Savage, setting the tone for excellence for the whole cast.

A slightly eccentric, extremely wealthy widow, Mrs. Savage wants to make the best use of her deceased husband’s estate, despite her greedy step-children’s selfish attempts to get their hands on it.

Mrs. Savage, however, has put her wealth into negotiable bonds in the hopes of establishing a fund to help others realize their hopes and dreams, much to the siblings’ chagrin.

Jes-c Brandt stepped out in full force to play her six-times-divorced princess role as Lily Belle to the maximum of spoiled haughtiness. Confident and assured, Lily Belle teamed up with her brothers Titus and Samuel in a foiled attempt to thwart their step-mother’s plan for their father’s estate.

Titus, a senator, played by Eldon Valdemar, and Samuel, a judge, played by Jonathan Phillips, were sure their father’s money was rightfully theirs.

Titus gets more threatening telegrams than any other man in Congress. Samuel has the distinction of having more of his decisions reversed than any man in jurisprudence.

Each spent a million dollars to land his position.

Ethel’s three children commit her to a sanitarium in the hopes of shocking her to her senses. As she struggles to find acceptance from her children, she instead finds it in the most unlikely place—the sanitarium.

There, she meets a variety of social misfits, all needing exactly the kind of help Mrs. Savage can provide and who eventually appear more sane than those outside the walls of the institution.

Danielle Conklin as Fairy Mae stays true to her animated character, adding a word at every chance, giggling and jesting along the way. But her sensitivity and vulnerability peek through at the slightest provocation.

Janismarie Oberle as Mrs. Paddy has nothing to say, except that she hates a whole litany of things. She’s passionate about getting right in the face of the one she’s addressing with her hatred. She’s spoken nothing but her hate list for years. Until the end, when she acknowledges her love for Ethel.

A gentleman through and through, Jerry Brandt is a courteous and likable Hannibal. Once a statistician, he talks in number language, but now thinks he’s a musician. Jerry learned how to hold the violin, but Hannibal convinced only himself about his ability to play the instrument.

Hannah Conklin as Florence convincingly believes she has a 5-year-old son. Quick to join in the antics of the house, she gains full support of her fellow residents, who clearly know she has no child.

Holding the side of his face that is scarred from an accident, Ty Glittenberg as Jeffery, plays a timid man with no confidence, when in reality he’s a professional musician with vast talent.

Miss Wilhelmina, a nurse and member of the staff, is played with much devotion by Nicole Brandt. Her dedication to the residents and to the difference between right and wrong are strong. Showing an extra bit of attention and affection for Jeffery, she later reveals she is his wife.

Bringing extensive acting experience to the local stage, Eric Conklin takes charge as Dr. Emmett. Thorough, calm and in-charge, he makes a valiant attempt at reasoning with both the step-children and the sanitarium residents.

With the help of her new-found friends, Mrs. Savage leads her step-children on a merry chase. The residents of “Cloisters” show Mrs. Savage a family can be more than the people you are related to; that a true family is formed through love, kindness and loyalty to one another.

The eccentric folk turn out to be wiser and more humane than the supposed sane-and-normal people around them.

A peek into Cloisters residents living their dreams finds Jeffery at the piano with Miss Wilhelmina by his side, Mrs. Paddy at her artist easel, Hannibal playing the violin, Fairy Mae is a princess and Florence is hugging her adorable son.

Playing the son in Haxtun was Claire Swan, while Dylon Lousberg was the boy in the Holyoke performances. Both celebrated their birthdays at the Sunday show.

Having fun in their efforts on stage, The Curious Savage cast members gave the audience reason to perhaps consider taking part in the next show.

Welcome back, community theatre. You were great.