‘Oklahoma, Hale and Damnation’ performed in Orangeville, Hanover and Stockton

Online Staff Report

The Northwest Illinois Theatre Coalition (NWITC) presents the second show of the 2012 season — Oklahoma, Hale and Damnation, a musical melodrama. It will be presented in several area theaters.

Oklahoma, Hale and Damnation is the third installment of the adventures of familiar characters Fannie Garrettson (Terrie Miller), Frederick Fosdick (Phil Jackman), Reverend Mould (Mike Craver), Ollie O. Shaughnessy (Josh Ryan) and Dora Hand (Emily Evans).

The story follows our heroes north, from their recent Texas adventure with Sarah Bernhardt, to the Oklahoma Territory, where they happen upon Hale, a little one-horse town that is run by a grieving widow (Terri Jackman) who’s being pursued by a supposed agent of the Railroad (Reynold Nolan).

Our heroes attempt to ingratiate themselves to the locals by becoming land developers, with mixed results. Romantic entanglements ensue, with mixed results. Ollie turns to a life of crime, with more mixed results. Deadwood Dan (Peter Woodruff) also makes a surprise re-appearance.

Fun and adventure follow, stoked by the unlikely catalyst of Drusilla Magrue (Mary Jo Frederick), a part-Irish, part-Lakota Indian bankteller turned amateur detective. Although our heroes make a valiant attempt to put down roots in Hale, it becomes clear no town can hold them and they are bound to be moving on, and in the process taking most of Hale with them.

Written by renowned playwright Mike Craver, the music not only moves the story along, but showcases the talent of the actors. Completing the cast are Sandy Sweitzer, Brad Field and Chuck Hancock. The band includes talented newcomer Ben Randecker on keyboard, familiar favorites Joan and Carl Sanford on guitar, bass and banjo, and Drew Chelburg on drums.

Craver is an off-Broadway writer/composer and international singer and a native North Carolina. off-Broadway credits include The Oil City Symphony (co-author and original cast member, Drama Desk award), Smoke on the Mountain, Radio Gals (co-author and original cast member, LA Ovation award), Wilder (co-author and original cast), Sam Shepard’s A Lie of the Mind (original music and band) and Diamond Studs. Mike also arranged and wrote original material for Smoke on the Mountain Homecoming. He has worked in theaters across the country, including the Pasadena Playhouse, Actors Theatre of Louisville and the Cape Playhouse in Dennis, Mass.

Craver collaborated with southern novelist Clyde Edgerton on a musicalization of Edgerton’s novel, Lunch at the Piccadilly. He graduated from the University of North Carolina and was a member of the Red Clay Ramblers for many years.

Oklahoma, Hale and Damnation opens April 27 and runs through May 12 at theaters involved in the NWITC, which is composed of local community theaters Back Street Players of Hanover, Mighty Richland Players Dinner/Dessert Theatre of Orangeville and Plum River Playhouse of Stockton.

Following are show dates by theater:

Mighty Richland Players — April 27 and 28: Dessert Theatre, 7:30 p.m.; April 29, Dinner Theatre, 12:30 p.m.; May 11 and 12, Dessert Theatre, 7:30 p.m. Mighty Richland Players performs at 203 W. High St., Orangeville. For tickets, call the theater at (815) 819-1310 or The Monroe Arts Center at (608) 325-5700. Cost is $20 for the Dessert Theater and $40 for the Dinner Theatre.

Back Street Players — May 3 and 4, 7:30 p.m. Back Street Players perform at 111 Monroe, Hanover. Tickets on sale at Apple River State Bank. Call (815) 591-2201. Cost is $12.

Plum River Playhouse — May 5, 7:30 p.m., and May 6, 2 p.m., at Metcalf Hall on the Campbell Center Campus at 600 S. College in Mt. Carroll. Tickets on sale at Stockton Banking Center at (815) 947-2000 or The National Bank in Mt. Carroll at (815) 244-9189 or (815) 244-2265. Cost is $12.

Posted April 25, 2012

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