Change is hard for everyone. In Picnic, the current production at Chanticleer Theater, the world changed after World War II. Changed in ways that will never go back to life as was known before.
All of this is in a small Kansas town during the year of 1953. Times have changed and people are changing, but not all at the same pace. Some people are embracing the future, finding the possibilities to be exciting, while others cling to the past, security and their old-way of life.
Many men were down-on-their-luck and riding the rails was not uncommon.
For Helen Potts portrayed by Debbie Bertelsen, she is more than willing to feed those who stop by her home, allowing them to bathe, clean-up and have a warm caring place to stay for one night.
Her next-door neighbor, Flo Owens (Jennifer Orvis) has her hands full with running a boarding house and raising two daughters alone. She has an eighteen-year old daughter who is known for her beauty. She sees her daughter, Madge (Mary Beth Slater) secure in her future with hopes of her marrying her wealthy college-educated boyfriend, Alan (Michael Castillo). Millie (Carson Santee), is her fifteen-year-old daughter known for her overalls, having her nose in a book and her brains. She never hopes or dreams of marrying. She plans to be an independent college-educated woman. Added to that household is Rosemary Sydney (Denise Putman), an old-maid schoolteacher who hopes that her boyfriend, Howard (Mark Reid) will soon pop the question so that she can belong to him.
The viewpoints, hopes and dreams of these females are the changes within Picnic.
This particular Labor Day night, a hunky drifter, Hal Carter (Adam Haverman) happens to be the object of Helen's hospitality. He isn't the typical visitor to this neighborhood and he quickly becomes the catalyst to show how the times have changed.
The production crew of Picnic is outstanding. The show is reflective of the time period and how our society has changed since 1953. The costumes, set, background sounds, lighting, costumes, sets, props, directing and producing appear seamless and perfectly blend into the performance.
Picnic is directed by Tyler Orvis with Michael Taylor-Stewart being the stage manager. This play is produced by Jerry Abels, Terry DeBenedictis, and Tim Daugherty.
The acting is top-notch in Picnic. The two middle-aged women, Debbie Bertelsen as Helen Potts and Jennifer Orvis as Flo Owens are delightful as single-women of a particular age each with their own unique situation. Flo, as a mother is not always in agreement with the choices made by her 18-year-old daughter. Adam Haverman as the drifter is wonderful as he teases and flirts to meet whatever happens to be his current goal. Carson Santee is the typical fifteen-year-old who looks forward to her unique future. In contrast, Mary Beth Slater as Madge Owens is completely convincing as the pretty daughter who wants to be happy. She looks to passion, now. Denise Putman is hilarious and almost too realistic with her character, Rosemary Sydney as the educated woman who really desires to be a wife, not a career woman. Bomber was portrayed by Michael Jefferis who as the perfect teasing neighbor. As Alan Seymour, Michael Castillo is a pivotal actor with his character having to accommodate everyone's needs, even if Alan does not agree with the decision. Mark Reid as Howard Bevans, Rosemary Sydney's boyfriend who feels that he is too old to marry, is hilariously realistic. As the two other teachers, Sydney's co-workers, Meganne Horrocks-Storm and Julie Livingston are wonderful busy-bodies.
The show begins promptly at 7:30 and with a fifteen-minute intermission, concludes around 9:20.
Picnic continues at Chanticleer Theater at 830 Franklin Ave. through Sunday, January 17th at 2 p.m. The curtain rises at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, January 15th and 16th. Ticket costs are $ 20 for adults, $ 16 for seniors over 60 and $ 10 for student with identification. You can reserve your tickets by contacting the theater at (712) 323-9955. More information can be found at the chanticleertheater.com.
By observing other people who need to change, it is easier to discover how each of us needs to change. See Picnic.