FORT MADISON – The Old Fort Playhouse is kicking off its December production of “Making God Laugh” this Friday with a look at three decades of a family trying to find its identity inside and outside of the family circle.
The cast includes OFP veterans Jim Cole, Shelley Dowling, Ty Clute, Richar Abel, and Michael Randolph.
Cole and Dowling play Bill and Ruthie, the aging parents of Richard, Maddie, and Thomas. And the story is set around three decades of holidays starting in 1980 where empty nesting Bill and Ruthie try to help navigate the personal lives of their children, with or without the blessings.
Dowling plays the meddling, but affable matriarch, whose ideas of her childrens’ paths run perpendicular to their aspirations as Cole’s Bill tries to play the intermediary.
Bill is the one who tries to keep everything on track but has trouble putting his foot down. But his love for his wife and his children keeps a smile on his face.
Clute’s Richard, or Richy, or Rick, depending on what decade you’re in, puts his life and humor in your face much like the hip pack he carries around his waste. Clute is the current president of the OFP board and made his debut five years ago when he stole the show in “It’s a Wonderful Life”.
Abel’s Maddie is the daughter ne’er-do-well to Ruthie. Abel has been with OFP for more than six years and has been in several plays including “The Dividing Tree” and “Opal’s Baby”. Abel also supervises the Youth Summer Theater program. Probably the smartest character on the stage, she regularly will give quirky acquiesce to her family, while holding down a steady job, but keeping her family at arms length in her personal life.
Thomas is played by Randolph, who’s appeared in “A Lion in Winter” and “Natalie Needs a Nightie”. He also was involved in the Fort Madison High School drama department productions. Thomas portrays a Catholic priest whose future leads to an unexpected destination.
The play takes up with the children out of the home and frequently making trips back for holidays where banter and mayhem are as common as the celebratory wine and “dip” and all is taken with a grain of salt.
The shows run Dec. 7-9 and 14-16 with showtimes at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets can be purchased at Old Fort Players at 319-372-9559 or on the website at www.oldfortplayers.com. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children. Refreshments for each show are also available.