Recently, I had the pleasure of enjoying just such an evening, as I was able to sit in on a rehearsal of the local stage production of "Send Me No Flowers." That evening, I enjoyed many a deep laugh, and truly experienced a wonderful, soul-cleansing.
Written by Norman Barasch and Carol Moore, and presented locally by The Southwest Nebraska Community Theater Association, "Send Me No Flowers" may be best remembered by movie buffs from the 1964 film starring Rock Hudson, Doris Day and Tony Randall.
The story's basic plot revolves around the lives of married couple, George and Judy Kimball (played by Maury Green and Kathy Latta). In the opening moments of the production, it becomes readily apparent that George is a serious hypochondriac.
With every pain or cough, George is sure that he has contracted a dreadful ailment that will most certainly be the end of him. So when he happens to overhear his doctor, speaking on the phone about one of his terminally ill patients, George is sure that Dr. Morrissey (Duane Tappe) must be referring to him, of course he isn't.
George is immediately convinced that it is "curtains" for him. Being a loving husband, and concerned for welfare of his beloved, he secretly takes it upon himself to make sure that he does everything necessary to help make life easier for his soon-to-be-widowed wife Judy, after he is gone.
The comedy came at me in waves, as George tried to keep secret his impending doom, all the while preparing Judy for life without him. He even goes so far as to arrange for her a "replacement" husband, an oil tycoon, played convincingly by Joseph McCarty.
George confides in his situation with his good hearted neighbor Arnold (Jeremy Blomstedt), who only adds to the ruckus with his own ideas. Judy, confused by George's antics, develops her own fantasy of what George must be up to (Arf! Arf!).
Without revealing to you, the entire story line, rest assured that the audience is kept entertained by a rotation of hilarious characters, including a cemetery plot salesman (Don Harpst), a "call-girl" (JeriLyn Karr), a "fantasy girl" (Tiffany Anderson) and the delivery man Vito (David Sandman).
Being the only person in the audience that night, I found it difficult to stifle my outbursts. I am sure that when viewed in a theater packed with an enthusiastic audience, the production is bound to be a real "hoot"for all who attend.
With full disclosure, I must admit, that as a long-time fan and supporter of SWNCTA, I have had the pleasure of working on and off the stage , with many of the people in this current production. I have great respect for their experience and professionalism. I know first hand, how hard they work at the craft of the performing art. However, it truly is the cast that makes this show work for me. Each actor is to be congratulated for believably portraying their character on stage. The superior job of casting and character development makes this a memorable show.
As has been one of the hallmarks of a SWNCTA production, the set for this show was absolutely spot-on. Great job crew! Period furniture, backdrops, costumes, and props all added to an enjoyable theater experience for me.
My viewing took place during one of the initial technical rehearsals in the performance space. Thus, technical details (lighting, sound, etc) were still being worked out by the very capable back-stage staff. I am sure that those wrinkles will be ironed out by opening night.
Director Bill Marshall and his assistant Cheryl Scott are to be congratulated for how well they presented this production. I hope that fans new and old are able to attend this production as it truly was great comedic entertainment. Be warned, you will laugh out loud.
Shows are slated for the McCook High School Auditorium on Friday and Saturday (Oct. 19/20) at 7:30, and Sunday (Oct. 21) at 2 p.m.