GREENVILLE, Ky. (10/3/13) – You may not notice as you walk past the Palace Theatre in Greenville, but at this very moment the Muhlenberg Community Theatre (MCTI) is transforming the historic venue into a rustic Upper Michigan hunting lodge. They are also hard at work learning to speak a Michigan dialect known as "Yooper." (Think back to the movie "Fargo" or "The Red Green Show" and you're almost there.)MCTI invites you on a hunting misadventure, as a highly talented cast presents "Escanaba in Da Moonlight", October 18th, 19th, and 20th...and October 25th through October 27th at The Palace.
The hard to pronounce play name, written by Michigan native and acclaimed film and T.V. actor, Jeff Daniels, is being directed by Sean Mooningham, who makes a short appearance in the play we'd love to tell you about, but that would spoil it for you.
What we can tell you is, the plot focuses on the Soady family, made up of four hardcore deer hunters from the Upper Peninsula Great Lakes outback town of Escanaba. Throw in the fact that one has actually never killed his first deer, even though he is pushing 40 (a fact that invites ridicule among fellow hunters), and strange happenings in the woods.
Even considering the fact that all this may sound utterly confusing, the play was written by Jeff Daniels, a man who has a track record that includes starring roles in the Oscar winner, "Terms of Endearment", an Emmy for his current HBO series "The News Room" and a laundry list of other films, including a film version of "Escanaba in Da Moonlight", released in 2001.
Through a strange twist of fate, the MCTI production of this 99% male play has been cast with 99% females, including Gabby Mooningham as Rueben Soady, Katie Vowels of Madisonville as Albert Soady, Susan Ramsey, from Greenville, as Jimmy "the Jimmer" Negamanee, Lauren Arnold of Beechmont as Remnar Soady, and, Neil Vowels as Dept. of Natural Resources Major Tom T. Treado.
Ramsey explained how she ended up in the production.
"Well, the cast called for five men and one woman, so I didn't even audition. Then Sean called me up and said "I’m going to do a totally serious production of this play, but with women... do you want to try out. So I said 'Why not!"
Arnold said, "I was hoping to help out backstage, because I've never been in a play before. And now, here I am."
Director Sean Mooningham emphasized to SurfKY News that, "We are not presenting this as a farce or caricature. They are portraying real characters, albeit in a slightly twisted way."
So the final production will be more along the lines of the era of William Shakespeare, when women were not allowed in plays, rather than the era of Monty Python, who did indeed play both male and female roles in skits, just for laughs.
As far as mastering the Yooper dialect, Neil Vowels described it as, "a cross between Canadian and ...well... Minnesotan, since we've never heard any Northern Michigan people around here."
"I'm very proud of this cast for taking on this unique perspective and running with it, albeit in a slightly twisted way. I'm also very excited to get the chance to work with my daughter, Gabi, on stage again. She basically grew up at The Palace, backstage and onstage, and it's great to get to share this experience with her. Get in touch with your inner deer hunter and wear your camouflage to the show and get one adult ticket at half price," Mooningham added.
Will Reuben bag his first deer? Is there life below the Upper Michigan Peninsula Bridge? What about this mysterious Native American lady, known as Wolf Moon Dance?
To find the answers to these questions, you just have to call 338-7165 for reservations.
One note for parents from Sean Mooningham is that, "The show does contain some adult language and humor, so I would rate it a PG-13."
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