00 News & Updates, 2017 Noises Off

Loud Laughter Characterizes “Noises Off!”


The Joan Kuyper Farver Auditorium in the Pella Community Center was alive with laughter this past weekend as Union Street Players (USP) kicked off 2017’s season with the raucous British comedy Noises Off! It was a fitting tribute to the auditorium’s namesake and long time benefactor who passed away during the show’s production.

USP Director Denise Gregory (Bye Bye Birdie) made the most of a stellar cast that included USP’s newest inductee to the USP Walk-of-Fame, Spence Ver Meer. It also included Lonnie Appleby who earned outstanding actor honors from the Iowa Community Theatre Association (ICTA) in USP’s Charles Dickens Presents A Christmas Carol and Jana De Zwarte (aka Java DeZwante) who earned ICTA outstanding actress honors for her role as Miss Hannigan in Annie. The rest of the talented cast were all veterans of USP productions which helped with the incredibly difficult blocking, action, and timing required to pull off the show.

Audiences were equally impressed with the show’s complex set. The two-story set had to be designed so that it could be rotated during intermissions between acts. Designed by Jim Palmer and constructed by USP’s amazing set crew, the set allowed audiences to see the show-within-a-show from both audience and backstage perspectives.

Spring shows have historically been USP’s smaller productions. It is an opportunity for USP to try lesser known, original, or avant garde plays. These productions afford cast and crew the opportunity to stretch themselves, and the audiences get a chance to stretch their stage experience, as well. Attendance for spring shows averages between 350-400 audience members. Noises Off! enjoyed good word of mouth and above average attendance:

Thu Mar 30: 87
Fri Mar 31: 111
Sat Apr 1: 142
Sun Apr 2: 124
Total:  464
Average: 116

Next up for USP: The Wizard of Oz

For up-to-date information, subscribe to unionstreetplayers.com, “Like” us on Facebook, and/or follow us on Twitter (@UnionStPlayers). Auditions for Wizard of Oz will be held in May after Tulip Time.

00 News & Updates, 2016 The Christmas Post

“Christmas Post” Closes Holiday Run


Union Street Players (USP), Pella’s award-winning community theatre, ended its six show run on Saturday afternoon. It was Director Wendy Vander Well’s third time at the helm of the holiday musical. She first directed the show at Third Church in Pella in 2001. Five years later, in 2006, she was tapped to produce the show for Union Street Players. The heart-warming musical, based on two Norman Rockwell paintings, tells the story of a World War II widow trying desperately to make enough commission at the local department store to buy her children the “special gifts” that will fulfill their Christmas wishes. With the help of an angelic newsstand owner, and the support of friends and co-workers, the widow overcomes a greedy store owner and hard-hearted Sales Manager and develops the faith needed to believe it will happen.

Along with Vander Well, the cast and crew included a few members (Dirk Ryals, Karen Ryals, Cal Van Ee, Brian Vande Lune, Lisa Vande Lune) who had participated in all three local productions, along with a host of others who had been in two of the three. As with most USP productions, the cast included seasoned veterans as well as newcomers, such as lead actresses Mia Andringa (Katie) and Elise Pederson (Alice), who were in their first USP production.

Attendance for the six show run:

Fri Dec 2: 225
Sat Dec 3: 242
Sun Dec 4: 289
Tue Dec 6: 154
Fri Dec 9: 249
Sat Dec 10: 220
Total: 1379

For veterans of the 2006 production of The Christmas Post, this year’s show tugged extra hard on the heart-strings, and it wasn’t just the sentimental storyline that elicited emotion. In the past 10 years USP has memorialized three of the cast members of the 2006 production who have since passed away: Mike Atkins (Accompanist), Randy Icenbice (Caroler), and Sherm Van Zee (Brother Sam).

Next up for USP:
Noises Off by Michael Frayn; Directed by Denise Gregory
Auditions Jan 12-14


01 Auditions & Talent Calls, 2016 The Christmas Post, Slider Posts

Auditions for “The Christmas Post” Announced

The Christmas PostUnion Street Players, Pella’s award-winning community theatre, is excited to announce auditions for our Christmas musical, The Christmas Post. The heart-warming, family friendly musical based on two Norman Rockwell paintings was a huge hit with USP audiences ten years ago. The Christmas Post tells a heartwarming Christmas story set in the postwar years after World War II. A young widow works tirelessly at Herzog’s department store hoping to make enough money to buy Christmas presents for her children.

We know that audiences will love to experience the love and laughter of The Christmas Post once again and to introduce the show to a new generation of fans. Director Wendy Vander Well will again take the helm of our production and Kathy Haug returns as the show’s musical director. If you have any questions, please contact Director Wendy Vander Well at wendyvanderwell@gmail.com or 515.326.2661.

No experience necessary. No roles precast. There are roles for men and women, boys and girls from ages 10 to 110.

Perusal scripts, along with a CD of the soundtrack, are available at the Pella Public Library.

Audition Dates:
Aug 15  6:30-8:30
Aug 16  6:30-8:30
Aug 18  6:30-8:30
Aug 20  9:00-11:00
Aug 22  6:30-8:30

All auditions are on the stage of the Joan Kuyper Farver Auditorium in the Pella Community Center, 712 Union St., Pella, Iowa.


If you wish to audition for a solo or small group ensemble role, please prepare one of these two songs for your audition:
Deck the Halls (Eb, key in book)
Silent Night (in key of A for ladies, Bb for tenor, Ab for bass)

Principle Speaking and Singing Characters (*indicates solo singing required)
ALICE GARFIELD* (30’s), young widow trying to make ends meet at Christmas
KATIE GARFIELD* (9-10), her daughter
HATTIE MCGEE* (60’s-70’s), owner of the corner news hut
BROTHER SAM GILLESPIE* (30’s-50’s), pastor of a small local church
MAXWELL Q. SELDON* (20’s-30’s), sales manager at Herzog’s
ELLIOTT HERZOG JR* (30’s-40’s), runs Herzog’s Department Store
ELLIOTT HERZOG SR (60’s-70’s), his father
DIXIE PLUNKETT* (30’s-50’s), bookkeeper at Herzog’s
SGT. BUCHANAN (40’s-60’s), local policeman

Incidental Line Characters
HANK, newspaper delivery man
HAPLESS MAN, a shopper
FRANTIC MAN, a shopper

Chorus Groups
HERZOG’S STAFF (3-4 employees of Herzog’s, including Otis, Patsy and Nadine)
NEWSIES (15-20 kids who sell newspapers for Hattie)
CAROLERS (6-10 members of Brother Sam’s congregation)
SHOPPERS (10-20 members of the general chorus)

00 News & Updates, 2016 Sabrina Fair, Slider Posts

USP’s Production of “Sabrina Fair” Cancelled

Union Street Players is saddened to announce that our summer production of Sabrina Fair has been cancelled. Director, and USP President, Cyndi Atkins explained that there were simply not enough people available this summer to fill all fourteen roles on stage and all production roles off stage. Atkins said it was a difficult decision. USP hopes to reschedule Sabrina Fair in a future time slot on the production schedule.

We apologize to the few individuals who had auditioned and were looking forward to the show. We hope to provide another opportunity in the future.

01 Auditions & Talent Calls, 2016 Sabrina Fair

Auditions Set for USP’s “Sabrina Fair”

Auditions for Union Street Players’ summer production Sabrina Fair will be held May 10 and 12 at 6:30 p.m. and May 14 at 9:00 a.m. Under the direction of Cyndi Atkins who last helmed 2010’s Annie, the play has 14 roles for adults from 21-81 (Sorry, there are no roles for children. Children should plan to audition for our holiday show, The Christmas Post).

Sabrina Fair is the stage play from which two Hollywood films titled Sabrina were born. The 1954 film starred Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart. The 1995 remake starred Julia Ormond, Harrison Ford, and Greg Kinnear. The play is set on a wealthy Larrabee family estate on Long Island, New York. Sabrina Fairchild is the chauffeur’s daughter who has just returned from school in Paris. Her return sets up a comical triangle with the two Larrabee sons. It is a romantic comedy everyone will enjoy!

Perusal scripts are available at the Pella Public Library. Please contact Cyndi Atkins (cyndiatkins@gmail.com) with any questions for for more information.

2016 Almost Maine, Slider Posts

Chilly Night in “Almost, Maine” Warms Hearts

USP Almost Maine Cast Photo - 1 (1)

Almost, Maine is set in the depths of winter on a moonless night in northern Maine. It’s a chilly, snowy setting and much of the cast, costumed by Linda McQuade, spend their time on stage sweating in full winter regalia. It’s one of the many contrasts that playwright John Cariani wove into the magical, heart-warming tales of love and relationships. On Sunday April 17, Union Street Players production of Almost, Maine ended its four show run with a good word-of-mouth crowd who endured unseasonably warm temperatures both outside and inside the Joan Kuyper Farver auditorium.

Directed by Kevin McQuade, who made his USP directorial debut, the seven cast members delighted audiences with the script’s nine vignettes which produced both laughter and tears. The ensemble cast was anchored by a number of USP veterans including Spence Ver Meer, Jana De Zwarte, Wendy Vander Well, Tom Vander Well and Sara Collins. Ana Lucia Riegstad was cast in her third straight USP production and Stephanie Lantz made her USP stage debut. Tyler Coleman and Charlee Eekhof provided musical accompaniment between scenes. The show was well managed by Stage Manager Alex Dean, a student at Theatre Central. Pat Moriarity joined the show mid-stream to act as Producer (sadly, his last USP show before he and Peggy move to Arkansas). Arvin Van Zante ran the lights and sound, and Mark Schaefer provided back stage assistance. Mat Kelly designed the minimalist set. Cody Kori assisted with sound effects.

Spring productions are typically smaller shows for Union Street Players. The productions are performed between February and April with average attendance numbers (363) which fall well below those of summer productions (884) and holiday shows (1009). The four show run of Almost, Maine was slightly above average with 374 audience members over the four performances:

Thu Apr 14:  58
Fri Apr 15:  141
Sat Apr 16:  80
Sun Apr 17: 95


Next up for Union Street Players:

Sabrina Fair by Samuel A. Taylor
Directed by Cyndi Atkins
Roles for 14 adults ages 21-81
Auditions May 10/12 at 6:30 p.m.; May 14 at 9:00 a.m.

00 News & Updates, Slider Posts

15 Ways You Can Get Involved in USP

Union Street Players is a non-profit volunteer organization. There’s not a person involved in USP who didn’t, at one time or another, take that courageous step to audition for a show or volunteer for a task. USP is a great way for new members of the community to meet new friends, be part of a short-term project, and have a lot of fun. Whether you’re an experienced stage hand, enjoyed being in shows back in your school days, or have being in a show on your bucket list, USP affords everyone a myriad of ways to get involved.

  1. Audition for a show. Whether you’ve had experience on stage or have always wanted to try it, USP offers opportunities for you to get in on the act. No roles are precast and everyone is welcome to audition. No experience is necessary. Almost every USP cast includes some one making their stage debut. Come on out and give it a shot!
  2. Be an usher. Small time commitment with direct benefits. Being an usher on performance night is a great way to meet cast and crew and enjoy the excitement of production. Each show’s producer is generally looking for volunteers 2-4 weeks prior to opening night. Ushers get to stay and watch the show for free (unless the show is sold out).
  3. Help with costumes. Each show requires a lot of help getting actors in the right costume. We are blessed to have the USP Costume Shop at our disposal, but we still need individuals with an eye for fashion, perhaps a little history, and dose of flair to make sure each character looks their best on stage.
  4. Be a production assistant. For those who are great with details and organizational skills, there are opportunities to help directors and producers with scheduling, keeping track of actors’ blocking, jotting rehearsal notes, communicating with the cast/crew, and a host of other tasks that come with running a production.
  5. Help build the set. For crafty construction types, being a part of the set crew is a fun way to work with a fun team of individuals in building a set that will function for the actors and wow the audience. If pounding nails, sawing lumber, and painting with a little ingenuity sounds like your kind of fun, come help our set crew.
  6. Be a stage hand. There are many individuals who aren’t excited about being in the spotlight, but love being part of a show’s success. Each show requires stage hands who open curtains, change the set between scenes, and make sure actors are in place for entrances. Plus, you get to wear a cool headset and talk with the other crew members during the show.
  7. Run the light/sound board. In a booth clear up in the back of the auditorium sit each show’s “Wizards of Oz” (e.g. “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”) who are making things happen on stage. Our computerized lighting system and out updated audio equipment require individuals who love to work with technology and are every bit as crucial to a production as the actors on stage.
  8. Help with auditions. Every USP show begins with a series of auditions. As aspiring actors swarm to the Pella Community Center to try out of the show, we always need help checking people in, taking and printing photos, calling actors in and out of the auditorium, and reading scenes with actors.
  9. Assist with marketing. We can’t get audiences in the seats if we don’t get the word out. There are always opportunities to help with marketing efforts. Write an article, a tweet, or a blog post. Help send press releases, set up interviews with the media, and distribute posters.
  10. Help with props. Do you like scavenger hunts? Every show requires us to find a scavenger hunter’s list of items needed on stage known as “properties” or “props.” Where can we find a vintage typewriter? Who has a large set of multi-colored tupperware? If the thrill of the hunt is your thing, then you may be USP’s next Properties Master!
  11. Make Music. USP does a musical each year. With each musical comes a need for people with musical abilities. Vocal directors, music directors, accompanists, and instrumentalists. If you have music ability, then we likely have a place for you on our team!
  12. Dance Dance Dance. Our annual musicals also require individuals with choreography experience. If you love to dance, then consider helping choreograph our next production number.
  13. Hair and make-up. Shows almost always require actors to do certain things with hair or make-up to complete their on-stage character. USP is always looking for volunteers who like being creative with styling hair or applying stage cosmetics.
  14. Become a patron. We would not be successful without the financial assistance we receive from our many loyal patrons. Our mission is to continuously increase the production quality of our shows and that often requires investment in the latest audio, video, lighting, or stage technology. As a non-profit, we keep our ticket prices low to ensure that everyone can see our shows. This means that we value our financial patrons as key members of the USP team.
  15. Just come to a meeting. Still not sure where you might fit in? Don’t worry. We’ll find a place to plug you in. Consider simply stopping by our next meeting. Our monthly membership meetings are open to the public and they are always held the 2nd Monday of the month at 7:00 p.m. in Room 201 of the Pella Community Center (712 Union Street). Many of our members began their relationship with USP by simply showing up at a meeting. We invite you to stop by. We look forward to meeting you!

Please feel free to e-mail one of our Board members with questions or requests for more information:

2015-2015 USP Board of Directors (L-R) Denise Gregory, Deb Linn, Cyndi Atkins, Kim Beyer, Cody Kooi, Mark Schaefer, Jana De Zwarte
2015-2016 USP Board of Directors (L-R) Denise Gregory, Deb Linn, Cyndi Atkins, Kim Beyer, Cody Kooi, Mark Schaefer, Jana De Zwarte

Cyndi Atkins (Pres.): cyndiatkins@gmail.com
Deb Linn (V.P.): deb_linn@hotmail.com
Kim Beyer (Sec.): kim.beyer@comcast.net
Denise Gregory (Treas.): denise2352004@yahoo.com
Jana DeZwarte: punkrockjana@hotmail.com
Cody Kooi: cody.kooi@gmail.com
Mark Schaefer: mschaefer22@yahoo.com