While the main protagonist for the Pierre Player’s upcoming play may need a more supportive husband, behind the curtain there is plenty of support.
“‘Til Beth Do Us Part” is the Player’s most recent production and all hands are on deck to make sure their December performances go off without a hitch.
Audra Caldwell, director of the Player’s current production, took some time to outline some of the challenges and high points leading up to opening night. Unfortunately, the company went through three actors for one of the lead roles before they settled on their current selection.
“Which ended up being absolutely wonderful,” Caldwell said. “He has learned the lines in about three weeks.”
For context on the play, career-driven Suzannah Hayden needs a lot more help on the home front than she’s getting from her husband, Gibby. Lately, nurturing his marriage hasn’t been the highest priority for Gibby, but pretty soon he’ll wish it had been. Enter Beth Bailey, Suzannah’s newly-hired assistant, a gregarious, highly-motivated daughter of the South.
“It’s a farce comedy so we have a lot of fast-paced action. So the hard part is always blocking,” she said.
Blocking simply put is the order and location actors are supposed to be according to the director. This takes getting to know one’s fellow performers, something that’s a bit of a luxury considering their time crunch.
“So doing auditions is not just about who can do the part the best,” Caldwell said.
It is more critical that there is cohesion between actors, especially with a smaller cast.
“Sometimes working with a smaller cast is harder than working with a big one,” she said.
Caldwell is also the director of the annual Georgia Morse Middle School musical. She says the approximately 60 students can be easier to direct. Makes sense considering there aren’t any conflicting schedules as opposed to those of volunteer adults with jobs and families.
Anna Arch, who plays Suzannah, thought going into it that memorizing lines would be the biggest hurdle to overcome. She ended up finding an app to overcome that challenge.
“I had to say everyone’s lines into the recording and then it held a gap for me to say my lines,” Arch said.
Co-assistant director Claire Steffensen has found juggling schooling as well as her other extra curricular activities to be a challenge. On the flip side, she has ended up learning a lot about the acting and directing process.
“I haven’t really done much since I was in elementary school,” she said.
Through trial and tribulation, the company persevered and as the old showbusiness adage goes — the show must go on.
The play runs Dec. 2-4 and Dec. 8-10. Doors open at 7 p.m., with curtains at 7:30 p.m. The exception being the Sunday matinee, with doors at 1:30 p.m. and the performance at 2 p.m.
The theater group has other productions to keep in mind as well.
A Prairie Christmas-On Stage, is a fast-paced, fun and heartfelt sleigh ride packed with hilarious stories, poignant memories and nostalgic moments that promise to make this the highlight of the season and a guaranteed way to get into the spirit of Christmas. The show features Jeff Gould with composer, Dan Mahar on guitar and vocals and Libby Gould on keyboards. Tickets are $20 if one pre-orders and $25 at the door. Tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite or by stopping by their box office at 109 S. Pierre St.
For those who want to get a jump on next year’s slate of performances, season memberships are also on sale. The 2023 season begins in January and runs through December 2023. Purchase season membership before the start of the first show of the season to receive a free ticket for the 2023 season.