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Trouble in Tumbleweed
Trouble in Tumbleweed
Arc Light Productions
June 26 - 27

By Eddie Urish

Arc Light Production’s current offering, Trouble in Tumbleweed is an excellent showcase for their youth theatre program! According to the program and curtain speech by the co-directors Cheri Semelroth & Cindy Bracket, everyone involved in this 90 minute production, both on and off stage, is a student and participant in their summer youth program. An extra tip of the hat to Arc Light for their inclusive and noble decision to produce a comedy.

For anyone unfamiliar with the show, a little background. Trouble in Tumbleweed was written by Tim Kelly who wrote and published more than 300 plays. A graduate of Yale School of Playwriting, he always infuses his shows with a clever plot, and a large number of extreme, zany, stereotypes, perfect for young performers or actors with limited experience…

The story is set in the Arizona territory in the late 1800’s inan uneventful, half developed western town where the stage coach rolls in once a month. The town of Tumbleweed is run by the loud and pompous Mayor Oates played by Nate Graham. Graham is well cast with a strong physical presence that eventually adds to the humor when his true nature emerges. Katie Haage, plays his wife Miranda. Haage is a talented young actress and a hoot every time she breaks out in song. The first family of Tumbleweed would not be complete without a second generation. Julia Theisen is endearing and convincing as the love struck first daughter Julie.

Mayor Oates has been hired by a Boston businessman to build a town that one day will be the Territory’s capital. To fill the local positions — sheriff, schoolmarm, doctor — he hires his incompetent relatives (kickbacks included, of course!).

Some of the standouts in this crazy group include: Sheriff Plunkett played by Ricky Schaefer, who raises chickens in the jail house…Tomi Sewell is Almira, the Postmaster who is more apt to read your mail than deliver it…Owen Fresia is entertaining as an underqualified Doc Snipes... Montgomery Wallace, Lindsey Marinich & Jessica Gould are the giggling, silly, pretentious over the top Dobbs sisters, who steal every scene they are in.

The news that a Pinkerton detective is coming from Boston to inspect the town’s development throws the whole family into a panic. Since they’ve been pocketing the businessman’s money, the town hall is nothing but a hole in the ground and the schoolhouse has no roof.

In addition to the Tumbleweed residents, we meet a handful of very colorful characters who are key to the story and turn is some of the most consistent and entertaining performances. Noah Lane is a hoot as the traveling medicine show man Professor Tom Burns, stranded in Tumbleweed after his piano playing Indian ran off with Otis, his dancing bear…Jade Sewell is spot on in her portrayal of Lily De Lilac a glamorous card shark who never misses a beat… Kadyn Deborn appears early in the 2nd act as Mrs. Baywater, a lady of culture who makes it clear she does not belong and Ben Ross is Luther, a prospector with a fondness for the Mayor’s daughter.

The rest of the story revolves around the Mayor and the rest of his crew trying everything other than honorable means to flesh out the undercover Pinkerton detective. There are a handful of clever twists and turns during their search. Rounding out the rest of the talented cast of young performers are Drake Shafer, Megan Giddens, Maddie Krigbaum, Bryson Jarvis, Tyler Semelroth, Hannah Alvey, Sydney Kelly, Lacey Yaeger and Laney Deborn.

Trouble in Tumbleweed runs Friday & Saturday at 7:30pm at Illini Bluffs High School in Glasford. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for senior citizens and kids under 12. For more information, call 309-455-4095.

Posted on June 26, 2015