February 4, 2013

Fremont Lions Theatre celebrates 30 years

Herald correspondent

FREMONT — Thirty years ago, the community of Fremont was hosting a celebration.

Two men, Bill Ward and Lynn Ryan, hatched the idea of presenting a community play as part of the celebration. The play, “Headin’ for a Weddin,’” was the show presented and 30 years later the cavalcade of players continues to perform plays on an annual basis.

On Thursday, Feb. 7, the show will come alive again with four members of the original cast — three of them reprising their roles from 1983. The 30th annual Fremont Lions Club show takes the stage of Fremont School at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 10.

Four members of the cast, Mark Hansen, Marge Holliman, Marla Witt and Ward, have had their hand in all 30 shows of the Fremont troupe. The cast for the show this year has just one newcomer, April Elder of Oskaloosa.

“Headin’ for a Weddin’” is the story of Homer Hollowbone (Aaron Rouw) who has been corresponding with a big-city debutante named Melissa Dugan (Janice West). Homer overstated and embellished his state in life and Melissa ventures out to marry him, even though he had not made the overture.

Snowstorms move in and Melissa and her friends the Todd sisters (Sharon Van Ringelestein and Jeanene Calhoun) become stranded in the three-room hillbilly cabin. They are found by 90-year-old Grandpappy (Terry Pettijohn). Add in the interesting cast of characters including Hansen, who is reprising his role as Paw Hollowbone and Witt as the widow Blairhouse.

Differences in opinion, mistaken identity and a pet skunk add to the hilarity. Homer tries to keep Melissa from finding out his lies, Hortense Todd (Van Ringelestein) tries to find someone to marry and the widow Blairhouse keeps her eye on marrying her sixth husband, Grandpappy.

Ward, who directed the original show, will make a cameo appearance and acts as emcee for the show. Long-time community theatre members Mindy Archer and Scott Bethune direct the production. Both have extensive on-stage and directorial experience with the Fremont group.

“It is a pleasure for us to direct this show,” Archer and Bethune said. “It is funny and will keep people laughing.”

Ward echoed those sentiments.

“We were getting ready for a celebration when our minister Lynn Ryan suggested we do a play,” said Ward. “Neither of us had ever directed one, but we did it anyway. The next year, we did “You Can’t Take it with You” and we kept doing shows.”

A dinner will be held prior to each performance at the school beginning at 5 p.m. Tickets for the show may be purchased at the door. Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for children under 12. For ticket information, contact Bill Ward at (641) 295-6060.