One of the time-honored elements of theatrical drama is putting a group of different personalities together in a room, then essentially locking the door and letting time and other circumstances work their magic.
In modern life, we’ve got reality shows like Big Brother using this technique. But in 1955, playwright William Inge used this idea with a bit more subtlety, in his classic play, “Bus Stop.”
Bus Stop is the opening play for the Bigfork Community Players’ 2013-2014 season; performances run from Oct. 11, 12, 18 and 19 at 7:30 p.m., and Oct. 13 and 20 at 2 p.m. All shows take place at Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts.
Mary Reckin, who will be directing this show, said she was drawn to this play because it is a romantic comedy in the Inge style, meaning he takes regular people and their environs and spins them together to create situations reflecting the nuanced dramas that are part of everyday life.
“That’s what appeals to me,” Reckin said, during a brief break from rehearsal last week. “William Inge talks about simple things and places.”
This play is based in a diner in rural Kansas, where passengers on a bus passing through town must take shelter during a snowstorm that cuts off access to the highway. The cast of characters includes a couple of rambunctious cowboys, one of whom is dead set on taking his new-found girlfriend home to Montana to marry her. She, however, is less than convinced that this is a good idea.
Other characters include the good-hearted town sheriff, the diner owner, a smart but naïve waitress, and more. Everyone has to get along and pass the time in the diner while they’re stuck there; the play starts just before the bus arrives at about 1 a.m.
Reckin has a long history with this play, having directed it 13 years ago. Bus Stop also represents Reckin’s return to directing in Bigfork; she previously directed six shows and an opera from 1993 to 1999, she said, and has decided to come back to the local stage.
“It seemed like it was time to make a full circle,” Reckin said.
The Bigfork Community Players have been bringing their shows to the Bigfork stage for 30 years. They present three shows a year – one in the fall, one in the winter and the final show in the spring.
This year’s productions include Bus Stop, followed by the winter show, “Alexander and His Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” starting in February, and the spring show, “The Nerd,” running in May.
As a nonprofit organization funded through donations and run by and with mostly volunteers, the Bigfork Community Players rely on the Flathead Valley to provide not only the means by which to produce plays, but also the human talent to bring the plays to life.
Reckin said it’s usually a bit of a struggle to get people to audition, and Bus Stop proved to be extra challenging. However, through some fanagling of her own, she came up with a cast of veterans, newcomers and everyone in between.
Characters and actors include café owner Grace, played by Teri Terrific; waitress Elma, played by Katie Haas; Adam Montague as sheriff Will; Don McAdam playing bus driver Carl; sassy Cherie, played by Kristen Grosswiler; cowboy Bo, played by Tony Nelson; Bo’s cowboy friend Virgil, played by Jeff Cormier; and man about town Dr. Lyman, played by Walt Gunn.
Reckin said she wouldn’t get anything done without stage manager GayLynn Nelson, and added that she is especially proud of the men who stepped up to be in the production, some of whom have very little experience on stage. But if there were any worries about the cast’s ability, there wasn’t any evidence at a rehearsal last week.
The characters came to life in the basement of Bigfork’s Bethany Lutheran Church during the practice, and when they took breaks, the cast melded together well. Reckin said she’s proud of the amicable group, and looks forward to presenting the show to the public.
“They’re very committed to the show,” she said of her cast.
For more information on Bus Stop and the Bigfork Community Players, visit www.bigforkcommunityplayers.com.
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