Veteran cast brings “Drinking Habits” to OFP

Tedra Edwards as Sister Mary Catherine swears she hears voices telling her to confess. Her fellow nuns (Karen Schumaker and Shelley Dowling) keep an eye on her from offstage.

BY DOROTHY SCHULTE
OLD FORT PLAYERS

FORT MADISON – Old Fort Players announces the cast for its February 2020 production of “Drinking Habits” written by Tom Smith. Actors were chosen from among some 500 locals who showed up for auditions in November. Oh, wait. That may have just been folks attending the Wine and Beer Walk. Either way, the word got out and we have a superb cast!

Director Ty Clute has found a talented group of five women and three men. Sister Philamena, will be portrayed by OFP veteran Sherry Stice (‘What To Expect’ & ‘If The Shoe Fits.’) Karen Schumaker (from the Opal plays and most recently in ‘Harvey’) will fill the role of Sister Augusta. Former Board Member and veteran Director Shelley Dowling has been cast as Mother
Superior. An alumnus of The Young Fort Players, Colby Moore (‘Bleacher Bums’) will portray Paul. The role of George has been filled by James Salisbury (‘Bleacher Bums.’) Rosie Strickland, most recently in ‘12 Days of Christmas’ and other YFP shows will perform the part of Sally. Sister Mary Catherine will be portrayed by Tedra Edwards (‘It’s A Wonderful
Life.’) Filling the role of Father Chenille is veteran OFP actor Jim French (‘Harvey’ & ‘12 Days of Christmas.’).

Colby Moore (Paul) and Rosie Strickland (Sally) share an OMG moment on stage while rehearsing for Old Fort Players February Production of “Drinking Habits.” Photo courtesy of Old Fort Players

At the first night of rehearsal, the cast reads the play straight through for the first time in what’s called a table read. They call it that because actors quite literally sit around a table and read. It is perhaps the only theatrical term that isn’t cloaked in code, superstition and an inside joke.

It was a real treat to watch the actors discover their characters’ true identity in the last pages of the script. Many shouted their surprise or laughed out loud. Director Ty Clute had been in on the secret since choosing the play and thoroughly enjoyed watching his actors’ reaction to this farcical comedy that could give Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ a run for its money.

Accusations, mistaken identities, and romances run wild in this traditional, laugh-out-loud production. Two nuns at the Sisters of Perpetual Sewing have been secretly making wine to keep the convent’s doors open, (while also making and selling grape juice to cover their tracks) but reporters Paul and Sally, are hot on their trail. They go undercover as a nun and priest, but their presence, combined with the addition of a new nun, spurs paranoia throughout the convent that spies have been sent from Rome to shut them down. Wine and secrets are inevitably spilled as everyone tries to preserve the convent and reconnect with lost loves.

Without revealing too many of the best jokes, the audience will get a real kick out of all the ways the nuns refer to their homemade wine. Devil’s Drink, Lucifer Libation, Devil’s Hair Tonic and Satan’s Toilet Water. There are even a few tangled conversations about “My brother the Father”
and “My sister the Sister” that could rival Abbott & Costello’s “Who’s On First?”

And it all gets really silly when the characters get into the punch made with … well it isn’t grape juice.

“Drinking Habits,” sponsored by Scotts, will be presented by special arrangement with Playscripts, Inc. (www.playscripts.com). Performances run February 14-16 & 21-23, 2020. Evening shows begin at 7:30 p.m. and the curtain rises on Sundays at 2:00 pm. (Adult $15; Senior, Military, Vet $12; Student $10.) Tickets will be available online at www.oldfortplayers.com just by clicking the ‘Book Now’ button.

Next season Old Fort Players will celebrate their 40th anniversary. The theater is located in downtown Fort Madison at 725 Avenue G. Send a Facebook message, send an email to oldfortplayersfm@gmail.com or call 319-372-9559 for more information. Like them on Facebook (Fb@oldfortplayers) or visit the website to keep up with everything that’s going on at the theater.

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