"A Good Old Fashioned Redneck Country Happy Halloween" (AGOFRCHH) is the third in a series of Redneck Country plays written by local playwright Kris Bauske, and was performed for the first time on stage tonight at Mimi's Community Theater.
AGOFRCHH appears to be placed in a small town somewhere in the Appalachians, and follows a few of the townsfolk through both Halloween preparations and some spooky goings-on, along with some out-of-town college students just passing through. I found the story a bit rough, simplistic in spots and abrupt at the end. It also showed heart and warmth, and with polish could be a community theater standard.
The Antagonist for much of the show is Moldavia (Tess Nater), a self-styled backwoods 'Nature crafter'. Nater makes every effort to actually be Margaret Hamilton from the original Wizard of Oz. and it works about half the time; dialing back on the scene-chewing would make for a more organic ride for the character.
Lou (Amy Barnickel), Barbi Jo (Allison Whitcomb) and Darlene (Hanna Brewer) all interact with the local 'witch" in varying scales of belief and concern. I found their Southern accents to be fairly consistent (if perhaps based on Reba McEntire/Dolly Parton variety show reruns) and were better than average for community theater. However, line pickups were VERY slow, and these made their scenes drag quite a bit. I thought Brewer was the most natural in style, Barnickel the most believably Southern, and Whitcomb somewhere in-between. However, with the accent comes a slight lack of clarity - on two occasions, I simply had no idea what the character had just said because of that accent.
The men in the story are the husbands of those three women: Lou's husband is Bill (Joe Nunes), Barbi Jo's mate is Dave Fox (Steve Roosevelt), and Jim/Jimmy (Alex Randhan) has Darlene as his wife. Of the entire cast, Nunes can best be heard and understood, his lines ringing and projected. Roosevelt comes across as slightly mumbly and softer, and Randhan does his best but he's not able to convincing be early-to-mid-20s; he barely looks like he shaves, and minor innuendo or discussing getting to 'first base' is jarringly ineffectual. His acting is good, but he can't pull this off; it's a casting issue more than an acting problem. The men's accents are much more scattered, but I had no issues understanding their lines at all, so perhaps that's better.
The cast does a decent job with the material, but the more/better direction would be the greatest help. Line pickups were very slow; 2-3 seconds feels like forever between lines, and it's not hard to imagine the word balloons on the cast "And my next line is....". Scene changes were simply much too long; you *cannot* have 2 minutes or more of a closed curtain with background music and clunking sounds from the stage! It completely breaks the flow of the show. These sorts of issues when resolved would considerably raise the quality of the production.
Tech was well handled, lights and music appropriate to the production and the candles in the windows were a nice touch.
AGOFRCHH, the show and the cast have moments of charm and warmth and laughter, and I hope the audience shows up in greater numbers to see the production.
Rating: C-, family friendly with light horror elements that shouldn't frighten even small children.