Theater Review: ‘Tis the season … at Pec Playhouse

By Edith McCauley
Theater Critic

Pec Playhouse’s holiday production is quite a change from the familiar shows that we see every year. Christmas Belles does take place in a small Texas church on Christmas Eve, but there are many quirks to this presentation not seen before.

Three sisters — Honey Raye Futrelle, Twink and Frankie — are the “Belles.” Honey Raye is desperately attempting to mount the annual Christmas pageant; Twink, the fire bug, has just escaped from the local jail; and Frankie is vastly pregnant, expecting twins. Penny Wiegert is Frankie, Ariane Baer is Honey, and Twink is Becky Tidberg. Rosemary Million is revealed as an unknown sister (Rhonda) and completes the family.

The format is almost like old-time vaudeville. The 27 scenes flash by, and the plot develops so quickly, we almost need to take notes. Circuit Judge Ronald Pirrello is Frankie’s husband, Dub. He is the local portrayer of Santa, and the pain of passing a kidney stone dominates his performance. Their daughter, Gina (Amanda Busby), is being courted by the local intern pastor (Brandon Williams), and love does prevail.

Completing the cast are Melinda Baker, Diane Grosvenor-Johnson, Joel Ramsey and the hilarious Glen Wiegert. His innumerable trips across the stage dressed as the only shepherd and pulling a child’s wagon brings continuous laughter from the audience. It is impossible to reveal every aspect of this complicated show, but the comedy is well worth the drive to Pecatonica. Jesse Dabson directs and has become the leader of this pack of clowns. So many of them have played memorable dramatic roles, and this has given the cast the opportunity to have great fun.

The season continues with the world premiere of an original play, Waste MISmanagement, written by retired Winnebago County Judge Dan Doyle. It opens Feb. 10 and runs through Feb. 26, 2012. Christmas Belles continues through Dec. 4, and tickets may be purchased by calling (815) 239-1210. Since “The Legal Follies” no longer exists, it seems our local “legal Eagles” are becoming a part of our community theaters. It enriches us all.

From the Nov. 23-29, 2011, issue

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