A few years ago, community theater members were asked if they could produce a family-friendly, casual and silly show. They gave it a try, and the response was so positive from campers and Bemidjians alike that it's now a summer tradition.
The show, which will open at 7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 6, in the amphitheater at Lake Bemidji State Park is Bemidji Community Theater's melodrama, "Fools Gold," by Melody Jacobson.
This year the operative word is family - by and for families - for the Allens, Hunts, Millers, Quandruds and Rogers make up almost all of the actors.
Chris Allen spoke about enjoying the melodrama with his family each year and thought this would be a good year to be in it.
"About four years ago, my daughters told me about this show and we've been going ever since," he said. "Both my daughters are talented actors, and I thought this would be a good way to participate in a show. It's been a lot of fun, a great group of people to work with and a great learning experience."
Allen, who plays Pa Fool, is the patriarch of the Fool family along with Ma Fool (Julie Quanrud) and their children Ura Fool (Tom Rogers) and daughter Ima Fool (Amber Allen), the strongest girl in the county. Her beau, Sam Lactose (DeeJay Arens) is determined to marry her but only if he can beat her at arm wrestling. Sam Lactose is, of course, the local dairy man.
Yes, folks, and it gets even sillier than that with prat falls, rubber chickens, a kleptomaniac Dr. What (Emily Quanrud) who can't keep his hands off anything not nailed down. Then there is the evil Wiley Slithers (Kelly Kirk), who is determined to steal the newly found gold on the Fool farm.
Various other members of the community are the bossy waitress (Laura Lee Miller), some nosy neighbors - Ida Kumquat (Jadie Hunt), Bess Pickles (Hannah Allen) and their children Mary Kumquat (Sarah Rogers) and Carrie Pickles (Hannah Rogers). The Rev. Beeks (Emily Miller) and Frank Hotsy (Noah Hunt) play a lot of checkers together.
Stepmother of the Miller gals is stage manager Carolyn Towler, whose husband proposed to his future wife on the stage of the Paul Bunyan Playhouse after a BCT show. Tammie Rogers is the costumer for the show, as she has been for shows in the past when her husband, Patrick Rogers, and almost all of their children were involved.
Director Vicki Stenerson said the committee that picks the shows read through about two dozen different melodrama scripts and picked this one because it could be done with a minimal set, the number of actors they could get and it's funny. Props like the fancy wedding hats and rubber chicken were supplied by Cheryl Winnett and Bridget Stomberg.
"It kind of reminds me of Abbott and Costello's famous "Who's on First" routine with our Dr. What and everyone tries to guess his (real)name, and I loved the title, 'The Fool Family,'" said Stenerson a veteran actor and director for BCT and vice president of the board.
The show runs about an hour on Friday and Saturday, August 6 and 7, 13 and 14, and is free and open to the public. During intermission the first weekend, Don Zieman will sing and play his guitar. Luke and Joe Rogers will perform "Who's on First" during intermission the second weekend.
There is stadium seating at the amphitheater, but it tends to be full so bring along a folding chair, some bug spray and a jacket. Some people even bring their pets as well. A free will offering will be accepted to help off-set the cost of the production.