Quote of the Day: We get by with a little help from our friends. John Lennon and Paul McCartney

I was unable to attend opening night for Bus Stop presented by Pequot Lakes Community Theater, a small town with a great theater just North of Brainerd. I’m in a local production of Church Basement Ladies, Brainerd Community Theater at Central Lakes College. Travis Chaput, a regular on our local stages, is Stage Manager for our production. He attend opening night of Bus Stop and wrote a review for Play off the Page. Thanks, Travis!

Pequot Lakes Community Theatre cast members strike a pose as they prepare for the comedy “Bus Stop” to be performed July 11-13 and July 17-19 in the Pequot Lakes High School Theater. Submitted Photo, found in this article in the Brainerd Dispatch.

OPENING NIGHT… There is really nothing quite like it. The excitement, the nerves, and the constant feeling of dread. Usually I am behind the stage waiting for the curtain to rise and for the show to begin. This time I found myself in the audience for a change, waiting anxiously for the show to begin.

This past Wednesday, July 11th I had the pleasure of attending the opening night performance of the Pequot Lakes Community Theater Production of “Bus Stop” Written by: William Inge.

The play is set in a diner about 25 miles west of Kansas City in early March 1955. A freak snowstorm has halted the progress of the bus, and the eight characters (five on the bus) have a weather-enforced layover in the diner from approximately 1 to 5 a.m. Romantic or quasi-romantic relationships ensue between Grace and Carl, Professor Lyman and Elma and Cherie and Bo. Virgil and Will are the older authority figures outside the relationships.

As you would guess all the characters in this show have their own back story as to how they ended up in this diner. Grace Hoylard played by Jennifer Anderson is the owner of the diner and the leader of the comedic relief in this show. However, she also has moments that are tender and dramatic in nature. Her character is truly able to explore all facets of emotion. Elma Duckworth played by Ali Sommerness is the right-hand man to Grace. She works as a waitress in the diner and finds herself in a bit on an inappropriate situation with Dr. Gerald Lyman who is played by Isaak Anderson. The two bond over their love of poems and Shakespeare, when things suddenly take a bit of an “intoxicating” turn to say the least. Ali is the youngest member of the cast, but really has the acting chops to be on the stage with these area veterans. It was refreshing to see a new face on the stage! I look forward to watching her again in another production soon. Isaak Anderson does a great job portraying the part of Dr. Lyman he was able to get me to both love and hate the character all the same time. The Character is one of those slimy types that make you Shiver.  

With the arrival of the Bus and a busting of the door we meet Cheri played by Brianna Engels a night club singer who according to her as been put on the bus against her will and being forced into marriage with gritty cowboy Bo Decker  played by Phylipe Bell. Ms. Engles truly shines in this role. I have had the pleasure of working with Brianna in several productions around the area. I always knew she was talented but watching her in this role showed me a different side to her as an actress that I did not know existed. The work she does on stage is truly something to be proud of, well done my dear! Mr. Bell also gives a great performance with the character of Bo. You truly see the progression of his character through the show. It was like watching the Grinch’s heart grow 3 sizes at Christmas!

We also meet Will Master the town sheriff played by Mr. Richard Dreissig.  Richard truly plays the role of mediator in this show. As you can assume tensions are high in this little diner and Richard really does a wonderful job pulling them all together and helping them through this mess. Rich gives great delivery with his lines. He plays his role in a way that brings comedic relief to an otherwise very sticky situation.

We mentioned earlier that Grace has her right hand in the diner. Well Bo also has his right hand in life, Virgil, played by CJ Anderson. CJ plays the voice of reason for Bo, without which Bo could not hope to function as a human being. CJ gives us not only a fun performance but is also able to show off some killer guitar skills during the show. Finally, we meet Carl played by Ben Gordon. Every bus needs a driver and this one has Carl. Upon Carl’s arrival at the diner, we quickly learn that there is more to his and Grace’s relationship than meets the eye… The Combination of Ben and Jen is undeniable when it comes to comedic timing. They do a great job!

Director Michael Sander has done it again. Having been able to work with Michael in other productions over the years, I was excited to see another of his shows come to life on the Pequot Stage. One of the great things about working with Michael is that he truly helps you to embrace the essence of your character. He helps his actors become the people they are playing on stage. You see this through the show with these actors. At one point I completely forgot I was watching my friends on stage and was enthralled with the story unfolding before me.

Set Designer Tim Leagjeld has created another masterpiece. I am not sure when this man sleeps, but lucky for us he delivers another striking visual for the backdrop of this fun show! Well done Tim!!

Deb Binda was up for costumes and props on this one and she does not disappoint. The clothes are very period of the time and rain true for the overall look of the show.

Congrats to everyone involved with this production!

If you want to catch this one while you still can. Please visit www.glapa.info for ticket information the show is running next week Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evening July 17-19 at 7:30 PM in the Pequot Lakes High School Auditorium.

Journaling Prompt: What would you do if you found yourself stranded with seven strangers in a place that is unfamiliar to you?