Beware! Extreme Laughter Ahead! Barnstormers’ The Treasure of Shiver River
A rookie director working with a cast of the A-list, veteran actors in town. Intense competition for the season’s hottest tickets amongst the town’s citizens, and potentially crushing disappointment for those who won’t get a seat. A courageous band of selfless believers in live community theater battling colossal media companies intent on global entertainment control. Leading actors suddenly having to drop out of the show. Smashing fourth walls and doing grievous harm to the English language.
These are the key elements of melodrama: outrageous characters, exaggerated emotion, good versus. evil, improbable plot twists, and sensational action. Although Barnstormers’ Theater’s upcoming melodrama, The Treasure of Shiver River, relates the unpredictable goings-on in the fictional Shiver River Valley, the unscripted version is taking place right here in the Rogue Valley. Coincidence? Let us review.
Directing her first play is Amelia Caldwell, a relative newcomer to the Grants Pass Theater world only having joined her first show back in 2010. However, once she had her first experience under the bright lights (as one of Cinderella’s evil step-sisters in One-Eleven Evelyn Theater’s production of Cinderella); Caldwell was hooked. “I like playing ‘crazies’,” she says. Between being on stage and behind the scenes, Caldwell has worked shows non-stop for two years straight. Somehow she found the time to read a slew of plays before discovering The Treasure of Shiver River.
Her cast, meanwhile, whom Caldwell selected for their “feel for melodrama” and ability “to play their characters well,” includes many Grants Pass veterans of the boards: Jamie Krull, Josh Kennedy, Madeline DeCourcey, Steve Chroninger, Nancy Chroninger, Ryan Stephens, Shauna Stewart, and Amy Fox. The villain, Kent Pricket as “Rod Enreel,” is so sneaky, so unscrupulous, that he even outsources his evil laugh to the audience. Sarah Foster will charm as the lovely and eligible “Heidi Clair Sanders”, heroine and only daughter of the erstwhile “Colonel Ticonderoga Sanders”, played by Brian Williams. Real life hero, Dan Allen, has leapt capably into the breach left by a recently departing actor, to save the show mere weeks before opening night as dependable but romantically inept “Marshall Marshall Law.” Caldwell lavishes her actors with praise: “when you have a cast that is naturally talented, it is a completely different environment. You don’t have to rehearse 24/7 to perfect the show.”
If there is any pressure, it will be on Grants Pass theater-lovers to secure tickets for the eight shows. “The melodrama during the summer is (Barnstormers Artistic Director) Wayd Drake’s brainchild. The first was so successful, it has become a yearly venture that everyone looks forward to,” says Caldwell. Those patrons with the luck or the scheming minds necessary to secure a ticket will relish the show’s comedy and audience involvement in a packed house at Barnstormers comfortable home on Evelyn Street. “It’s the pinnacle of having fun at the theater,” exclaims Caldwell, “and family friendly.”
The evening’s entertainment will be all the more delicious thanks to its bona fide nature, as authentic and trustworthy as its hero. “We’re just there because theater’s a passion,” says Caldwell of the all volunteer cast and crew. “It’s a community effort to put the play on. We’re all here because we care.” It would be a bold statement indeed to say the same about the scoundrels at DirectTV or Time Warner.
As for smashing fourth walls (the imaginary separation between an audience and the stage in traditional theater) and assaults on proper grammar, Caldwell hints at plenty of both as the saga of Shiver River unfolds. The audience will receive its own cues to cheer or to heap scorn as appropriate, and Caldwell herself will add piano sound effects. As suggested by the character’s names–Rod Enreel, or Dr. Ophelia Payne–puns and wordplay will induce groans and howls of laughter to accompany the moans, woe, and pandemonium on stage. Hang on tight, Grants Pass–the adventure of The Treasure of Rogue Shiver River awaits!
The Treasure of Shiver River
2 and 7:30 pm, July 29 – August 13
Barnstormers Theatre, 112 NE Evelyn Avenue, Grants Pass
$15, adults. $10, seniors. $5, ages 12 and under.