The Runner Stumbles opens at Pec Playhouse

Pec Playhouse Theatre presents its fall production of the gripping courtroom drama The Runner Stumbles, opening Friday, Sept. 22, and running until Oct. 8.

Based on a true story, The Runner Stumbles is set in a rural Michigan town in 1911, centered on a trial of a Catholic priest being accused of murdering a young nun who was under his tutelage.

The 1979 film starred Dick Van Dyke as Father Rivard, and a young Kathleen Quinlan as Sister Rita.

Jamie Button (Rockford) plays Fr. Rivard, the priest banished to the remote Michigan village who befriends, and later is accused of killing, a young Sister Rita, played by Laura Kuroda.

Brenda Quade, new to the Pec stage but an accomplished actress with roots in Minneapolis, plays the ever-concerned housekeeper, Mrs. Shandig.

Returning to the Pec stage is veteran stage actor Jack Newton in the role of Toby, and Glen Wiegert as the prosecutor in the trial. The cast of five men and four women include seasoned performers, many of whom have appeared in other Pec Playhouse productions, from Rockford and the surrounding communities.

The play is directed by long-time Pec Playhouse volunteer and director Michael Dice, who has also directed other Pec Playhouse dramas, including The Glass Menagerie, The Trip to Bountiful and A Walk in the Woods. He also directed Talley’s Folly and other plays at Beloit Civic Theatre, as well as other area venues.

The set design is basic black, including the sparse collection of furniture, with multiple levels of platforms all around the stage, allowing the story to unfold during the trial. The set also allows for the occasional flashbacks to recent history to give the audience the back story leading up to Sister Rita’s murder, and, ultimately, Fr. Rivard’s trial.

Performances will be Fridays-Sundays, Sept. 22-Oct. 8. Show times are 8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, with 2 p.m. matinees Sundays. Tickets are $10 for all seats, and reservations are strongly encouraged.

Tickets are available at German-American State Bank in Pecatonica during normal business hours, or by calling the Box Office at (815) 239-1210 (toll-free, 877-PEC-PLAY), and most major credits cards are accepted at no extra charge.

For more information, contact the Box Office at (815) 239-1210, or visit the Pec Playhouse Theatre Web site at

From the Sept. 20-26, 2006, issue

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