The 2015 summer stock season at Okoboji Summer Theatre is off to a hilarious start. The first of nine shows this summer is called "On Thin Ice" and takes place right here in the Iowa Great Lakes Region during U of O Winter Games 2016. It is the weekend before the famous Iowa Caucuses.
OST Artistic Director Dan Schultz wrote this fast-paced farce as a tribute to the Lakes Area that he loves so much. There are the usual slamming doors (four of them) that go with a farce. The play also hones the talents of the actors who must totally utilize body and facial expression to pull this one off. They did a superb job and we all left the theatre chuckling while wiping happy tears from our eyes.
In my opinion two actors stole the show. Ryan Burke, a professional brought in from Washington, D.C. and Stephens College student Emily Chatterson were magnificent in their roles. Burke played Charlie Petersen, the owner and operator of the Okoboji Rose Inn, a quaint, throwback to the 50s hotel. He has mega talent for acting in farces. Emily Chatterson portrayed Svetlana Beckbaugh, Russian wife of Dash Beckbaugh, who wants to run for vice president. Her accent was very authentic. Their comedic timing as they played off (and on) each other was perfect. These two had us laughing much of the time.
I give a huge thumbs up to ZZ Moor. She had the role of Rachel Lennon, campaign manager for Presidential hopeful Henry Masterson. This student had mega numbers of lines to learn and had to be in top athletic condition to survive such a vigorous role. She did a great job.
Kyle Groff is a professional actor who returns to OST each summer; for which we in the audience are most grateful. He owned the part of Henry Masterson. I am pretty sure that Schultz had Groff in mind when he created the role. One minute Groff is the dignified presidential candidate and the next he is a bumbling husband cavorting around in drag. His attempt to walk down a flight of steps in black hose with ridiculously high-heeled shoes had everyone rolling in the isles with laughter. I can still shut my eyes and enjoy that trip down the steps. It was superbly done!
Rob Doyen, a favorite of OST goers for three decades, did justice to his role as Dash Beckbaugh. The political wannabe is a sleaze bag. No one can portray sleaze, slime and sneaky better than Doyen. He is a true joy to watch.
Another tear to the eyes from laughing occurred when Masterson (Groff) and Michael Connolly had to kiss. Stephens student Connolly did a very good job with the facial expressions and the two timed it just right to set us all into fits of laughter. I also am so jealous that Connolly can look so good in a skin tight sequined sheath dress. It is just not fair!!!
The remainder of the cast were very good in their roles. Ella Peterson was so cute, especially when trying to fake a speech impediment. Maggie Niven was a very believable Megan Masterson and Chelcie Abercrombie did a freezing in the Iowa winter cold scene very well.
I think I am honored that the news reporter in the play is Doris Walker. Caitlin Castro played Doris and did it well. She was meddlesome and not easily fooled. That I liked. However she was younger and slimmer and I envied that. I may be slightly prejudiced but Doris Walker was the most sane and "normal" character on that stage. Thank you Dan Schultz!
KUOO's Steve Schwaller did a recorded news cast that was broadcast as part of the show. He was in the audience on opening night to witness his role in story. Well done Steve!
The costumes by Ashley Harrison were fantastic! The Justin Bieber jacket was bedazzling. The elephant bedroom slippers were so funny on Doyen that Matt Richter told me afterward he thought the Three Sons should start carrying them. My daughter and I got a charge out of the bright yellow Playtex gloves normally used for washing dishes. We laughed so hard but I am not sure how many in the audience caught that special effect. It certainly conjured up some nasty pictures in my mind!
"On Thin Ice" was written about our special little corner of God's world and is a joy to watch. It is funny and fast-paced. Listen carefully for all the local humor in many of the lines. You don't have to be a 'local' to enjoy this play. It is comedy at its farciest (perhaps I have just created a new word)!
The play runs through Sunday night.