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Adult comedy 'Mere Image' opens this week

The cast of "Mere Image," which opens Thursday night at Wild Rose Theater, sits in the piano room of the VanDrefft mansion. Sitting, from left to right, are cast members Liz MacGregor, Kevin Cease, Sarah Einerson and DeeJay Arens. Standing, from left to right, are Joel Ward, Julie Quanrud, Vicki Stenerson and Martin Drop. Pioneer Photo/Patt Rall

"Mere Image" which opens Thursday, is the vehicle for the tour de force performance of Sarah Einerson, who skillfully moves the action on stage as the former cabaret singer and mother of three very needy children and a husband given to rants. Tillie, the maid, is the glue that holds the family together, despite a mother who tipples martinis all day, every day.

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, March 10-12, and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 11, at Wild Rose Theater, 501 Bemidji Ave. N.

Director and writer Steve Saari opined during a recent conversation about wanting to write a farce with lots of word play, mob scenes and a loveable, dysfunctional family and it would seem that Saari has accomplished that goal with this core cast of familiar actors from Bemidji and far-off Skatfal, Norway.

The adult comedy opens with the arrival of the successful cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Leonard VanDrefft while his wife, Celia, is dreaming a happy dream, resting on the couch. VanDrefft sits looking at photographs of his successes on famous people while bantering with Celia. No one in the family really hears what anyone else is saying: They are all self-obsessed. The father wants to protect his status as "surgeon to the stars" and in-charge patriarch while Celia spends the day reminiscing about her former career as a cabaret singer. The youngest son, Virgil, is a font of information about things past, present and future and a whiz at concocting Celia's martinis. Siblings Ernst, charmingly deceitful, and the constantly histrionic Rachel are often taken aback by Virgil's comments for he often makes the most sense in an attempt to bring reality into the moment. Also in the mix is the wise-cracking maid, Tillie, who knows that she is really the one who keeps this family together.

Audiences also will meet one of VanDrefft's most notable successes, actress Monica Morehouse, now Bloomhauser, as of her latest marriage. A temperamental photographer and his assistant, the clever Greek god Centaurio, compete for attention from the petulant Rachel and the publicity-seeking Monica. Ernst also is anxious to be in the spotlight with the publication of his new magazine, "Squint," a scandal rag with compromising pictures.

The small cast fills the stage with mayhem, rapid-fire repartee and has familiar faces like Kevin Cease as Dr. VanDrefft, Einerson as Celia and DeeJay Arens, Liz MacGregor and Martin Drop as their children. Vicki Stenerson is the feisty but loyal housekeeper. Julie Quanrud is the larger-than-life former sex goddess, Joel Ward the tempestuous photographer, and Saari is his assistant, Centaurio.

The youngest player, Martin Drop, a 14-year-old student from Norway, speaks three languages fluently and was a semi-finalist in Norway's equivalent of "America's Got Talent." When he was 10, he appeared in a production at Long Lake Theater in Hubbard, "The Nerd" directed by Einerson. Martin's American surrogate grandparents saw an audition advertisement for the play and knew that he was coming for the summer and thought it would fun for him. Drop stole the show.

The set, the piano room of a mansion in the suburbs, was built by Dwayne Johnson and Cheryl Winnett supplied the props and was costume assistant. Betty Arens is assistant director and costumer. The play is rated at PG-13, because the script is probably too sophisticated for the average child because of the fast double entendres and allusions to enhanced body parts. It's a zany adult comedy with no expletives but some burlesque humor.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (60 and over) and $5 for students and will be available at the door. Reservations may be made by calling 556-1777.