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When You Comin Back, Red Ryder

When You Comin Back, Red Ryder?
Illinois Central College Theatre Program
November 14-16 & 18-23

By Erika Evans

When you hear the title When You Comin Back, Red Ryder? you may not know what to expect, but you know it will be out of the ordinary. Illinois Central College’s production does exactly that, drawing the audience into a world where the sixties are ending, and a myriad of styles and voices come together. The tale follows eight people who are all brought into each other’s lives by one common place, the run-down diner that they all happen to be in when terrifying circumstances force them to get to know each other very quickly.

Before the play even begins the smell of food greets the audience as they make their way to their seats. It instantly transports you to a greasy diner, the sort that you stop at on your way to another place, nice enough, but easily forgotten. The scene is laid out with two red booths on either side of the stage, a few grey chairs and tables that hold the salt and pepper as well as the napkins, and of course the main counter. It is adorned with food, rags, cups, and other items. Through the tiny, classic window looking into the grill part of the diner, slightly rusty pans can be seen on the wall, adding even more character to the classic diner image that the set radiates.

When You Comin Back, Red Ryder is the story of eight people, two of which work at the diner, one who owns the diner, and those who stop in that day for a meal. Unfortunately two people who stop in are not just after a meal, but some money as well. While the customers and employees are held at gun point by a desperate man, the tension builds until the deep secrets and lives of those in danger are revealed. The sense of irrevocability, of words and actions, fills the play.

The cast provided the awkward chemistry that the situation called for, pulling together at times and withdrawing when needed. Stephen (Nick McCumber) gave a convincing performance as the angry trapped teenager that insists people call him “Red”. Angel (Hannah Bruce) was the sweet and innocent friend and coworker of Stephen, who made the audience like her instantly. Lyle (Ryan Groves), the owner of the gas station across the street shows both vulnerability and bravery in his performance. Richard (Nathan Apodaca) depicts the uptight customer and husband well. Clarisse (Hannah Gidcumb), his wife, played the suppressed wife who pulls through to show her true and proud self. Clark (Jake Sleva) appears briefly as the angry and disgust inducing owner of the diner who is the perfect image of a bad boss. Cheryl (Rebekah Waters) plays the sweet yet fearful girl thrown into a terrifying situation. Teddy (Tannen Skriver) gives an excellent performance as a disturbed man that inspires great fear; he kept the energy up the whole time and kept the performance running smoothly.

The crew did very well, with spot on lighting and set up. The lighting was very dramatic and well timed, adding great emotion to already tension filled moments. While there were some dialogue issues, the overall performance was engaging and thought provoking.

When You Comin Back, Red Ryder? continues at Illinois Central College Performing Arts Center Studio Theatre November 18-23 with performances Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 2:30 pm. Tickets are $7 for the general public and $5 for students and senior citizens. To purchase or for more information, call (309) 694-5136 or visit

Posted November 18, 2014