2014 Ham Buns and Potato Salad

Stellar, Experienced Cast & Crew Anchor USP’s “Ham Buns”

The Cast of "Ham Buns and Potato Salad"
The Cast of “Ham Buns and Potato Salad”

Union Street Players (USP) will open our spring production of Ham Buns and Potato Salad in four more days. The two-act comedy about small town Iowa will open on Thursday April 10 for a four show run. Despite a shorter than average rehearsal schedule, a capable, veteran cast and crew have assembled to bring the show to the stage.

Ham Buns and Potato Salad takes place in the fictional town of Hebron, Iowa in the summer of 1991. It is set in the back yards of the Prins and De Haas families. As the play begins, John and Esther Prins have died in a tragic car accident. Their only child, Thomas, is returning to Hebron for the first time since he left high school. When Thomas left for college in New York he found himself in the midst of a scandal. His classmate, next door neighbor and best friend, Marian De Haas, was pregnant. Marian gave birth to a daughter, Abby, but refused to tell anyone who Abby’s father was. The unresolved question of who got Marian pregnant has quietly simmered in the town’s collective conscience, and with Thomas returning for his parent’s funeral the heat is turned up on the old scandal.

The cast and crew of Ham Buns and Potato Salad:

IMG_5791Cyndi Atkins portrays the lovable Lola Van Dam, aunt of Marian De Haas. Cyndi is a USP veteran, having made her debut as Mrs. Cratchit in 2004’s A Christmas Carol and followed that with roles in The Christmas Post and The Odd Couple. Cyndi directed Annie in 2010 has been a member of the USP Board of Directors since 2007.

 

 

 

IMG_5735Karl Deakyne plays Thomas Prins, whose homecoming is creating such a stir. Karl is a relative newcomer to USP, but has made quite an impression beginning with his emotional confession at the end of The Night of January 16th and showing off his song and dance talents in last summer’s Bye Bye Birdie.

 

 

 

IMG_5674Doug DeWolf is a longtime veteran of the local stage and plays Marian’s amiable father, Dean De Haas, in Ham Buns and Potato Salad. He made his debut in the 2001’s Guys and Dolls and has juggled numerous roles as varied as Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing to the prosecuting attorney in The Night of January 16th. Doug served several years as a member of the USP Board of Directors.

 

 

IMG_5684Jana De Zwarte plays Marian De Haas. Jana won an award as from the Iowa Community Theatre Association (ICTA) for her portrayal of the evil Miss Hannigan in Annie. Jana also delighted audiences in last summer’s Bye Bye Birdie. Jana is also a former member of the USP Board of Directors.

 

 

 

IMG_5669Denise Gregory plays Betty De Haas, the anxious and doting mother of Marian De Haas. Denise has been very active in USP in the past few years with on stage roles in shows such as A Tinkerman Christmas Eve, The Night of January 16th, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. She directed last summer’s Bye Bye Birdie and is a member of the USP Board of Directors.

 

 

IMG_5675Griffin Hammel is making his USP debut as former Hebron all-star athlete and potential father of Abby De Haas, Matt Schuler. While new to USP, he is definitely not new to the stage. Griffin brings a wealth of experience to his role. He is graduating from Central College with a degree in Theatre in a few weeks and will be continuing his study of theatre at graduate school in Houston, TX next fall.

 

 

IMG_5724Mark Moreland plays the cantankerous but good-hearted Arl Van Dam, Marian’s uncle and husband of Lola. Mark is an ICTA award winner for his performance in USP’s Vintage Hitchcock. Over the past decade, Mark has become well known to USP audiences with numerous roles to his credit including Mr. Gilbreth in Cheaper by the Dozen and one of the memorable Costazuela brothers in the female version of The Odd Couple.

 

 

IMG_5807Arvin Van Zante plays Vietnam veteran “Old Man” Schuler who regularly sends the residents of Hebron scrambling with his infamous flashbacks. Over the past quarter century, Arvin has arguably been the most prolific member in USP history dating back to his first role in 1989’s Never Too Late. Actor, director, Lighting Designer, and member of the Board of Directors, Arvin has done it all. He was one of the original inductees of the USP Walk of Fame.

 

 

IMG_5705Wendy Vander Well plays Gladys Iskowitch, a Jewish dame from New York who comes to Hebron with Thomas and is experiencing Iowa for the first time. For the past decade Wendy has been actively involved on stage (Night of January 16th, The Dominie’s Wife, K.O.L.D. Radio) and off (director of The Christmas Post, Producer, Board of Directors member).

 

 

IMG_5658Lily Villalobos is making her stage debut as Abby De Haas, daughter of Marian. The youngest and least experienced member of the cast, Lily has more than held her own with all of the adult stage veterans. She has brought joyful exuberance to each rehearsal which clearly transfers to her performance. USP is proud to give many people their first stage experience, and we’ve been blessed to have Lily as part of the cast.

 

 

Ann Wilkinson (Director) is an award-winning teacher of theatre, having recently won an award from the Kennedy Center Theatre Festival for her work at Central College. Ann has been instrumental in bringing a number of original works to the USP stage (The Dominie’s Wife, Tulip House, Letters from Pella) and to Theatre Central (Dead Man’s Curve, Angel Camp). She has also directed The Fantasticks, K.O.L.D. Radio and served as a member of the USP Board of Directors.

Anne McCullough Kelly (Stage Manager) won an ICTA award for her role in Once Upon a Mattress and has been active off-stage as director of Cheaper by the Dozen and The Night of January 16th as well as being set designer for Morning’s at Seven. Anne has served as Secretary of USP’s Board of Directors for several years.

Elizabeth Keeney (Stage Manager) is graduating from Central College’s theatre program this spring and has brought her experience and expertise to our production of Ham Buns and Potato Salad. We’ve greatly appreciated her faithful attention to detail and keeping everyone in line all the while managing a busy senior class schedule.

Pati Van Zante (Costume Design) is an ICTA award winner for her costume work in USP’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Pati has been involved in USP for a quarter century going back to her first credited role as seamstress in 1989’s Polky Dot and the Christmas Wish. In 1997, Pati directed The Music Man, which was the first in what would become a string of annual Broadway musicals produced by USP. She was inducted into the USP Walk of Fame last fall.

Mat Kelly (Set Design & Construction) is a professor of art at Central College. Mat has quietly made a huge impact off stage for his set work (K.O.L.D. Radio, Cheaper by the Dozen, Morning’s at Seven) as well as the graphic design of posters for most USP shows over the past several years. Mat is a member of the USP Board of Directors.

Cody Kooi (Sound Design) designed sound for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever this past holiday season and returns to bring his quality audio work to Ham Buns and Potato Salad. He has been actively involved in USP and has assisted with audio on our shows for the past several years.

We invite you to come and see what this talented cast and crew have produced in Ham Buns and Potato Salad. Performances are April 10-12 at 7:00 p.m. and April 13 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets may be purchased on-line by clicking here. Tickets are $8 in advance for adults ($10 at the door) and $6 in advance for students ($8 at the door).

For more information email info@unionstreetplayers.com or call our virtual box office 641.204.1094.

Enhanced by Zemanta
2010 Annie

You’re NOT Seeing Double; We have TWO Annies

Rachel (left) and Hannah (right) share the lead role of Annie

Annie’s Director, Cyndi Atkins, made the decision early on to cast two girls in the lead of Union Street Players’ (USP) production of Annie. Through the history of USP there have been several roles that have used two different actors, but the practice is generally employed in smaller roles and bit parts when one actor can’t make all of the performances. To have two actors share the lead is something of a novelty.

The reasons Cyndi gave for wanting two Annie’s were simple and practical. The role of Annie is a heavy load for a young actor and the songs are demanding on a young voice. By having two Annies to share the role, the demand on either of them would be less. It also ensured that, God forbid, one of them goes down with sickness or injury you’ve got the most important role in the show covered. When one of them is playing Annie, the other is still on stage, but playing one of the orphans.

The role of Annie went to two exceptionally capable young ladies in Hannah Emmert and Rachel Peter. Both of them have booming voices, contagious smiles, and charisma to spare. No matter which one of the young actors is on stage, you can rest assured the show is in capable young hands.

Personally, I’ve found the experience of working with two different actors in the same role to be an interesting experience. During the rehearsal process, most scenes were done twice when blocked (Blocking is the stage term for the process of figuring out where the actors are supposed to move on stage). We’d block the scene with one of the Annies, then switch and let the other one run through it. As opening night draws nearer, Director Atkins has alternated Annies. This past week, Rachel played Annie for the Act I run through on Monday, then Hannah took the role for our Act II run through on Tuesday.

People have asked me if it’s different on stage when one or the other is playing the role. Actually, the biggest surprise for me has been how amazingly similar it is. There may be subtle differences, but both of these talented young ladies have worked hard in the role, harder than many adults I’ve worked with in similar lead roles. Both Rachel and Hannah have conducted themselves professionally, have maintained enthusiastic attitudes (which on more than one occasion has quietly reminded me to cheer up), and have approached the leading role with humility and class.

A personal observation: The untold story of these two fine young ladies are their exceptional parents. Rachel and Hannah’s mothers have made quite a backstage team themselves, and have made the production team’s load much lighter. Hannah’s dad is also in the show (one of many parent/child teams in the cast).

A quiet Sunday in Prairie City: By the way, Rachel’s dad is a pastor in Prairie City. Since my wife, Wendy, and I take the phone orders for tickets, I can tell you on good authority that things are going to be mighty quiet on the streets of that town on December 5th. About half of Prairie City’s residents will be in Pella watching Rachel!

Tech Rehearsal Update

Tech Rehearsal started at 8:30 a.m. yesterday and finished at almost 1:00 p.m. Thanks to our tremendous crew for all of their hard work and kudos to cast members who had to do a lot of standing around. A special shout out to Stage Managers, James and Jamie Punke, who are managing a huge cast and several major scene changes back stage. Backstage is in capable hands, James has been USP’s most prolific Stage Manager. He’s managed at least six shows dating back to Love, Sex, and the I.R.S. in 2002.

Bullets

  • Keep cast and crew in your thoughts and prayers. There’s a tremendous amount of crud going around and we’ve had several actors and crew members out with illness. Even our Director, Cyndi, was struggling yesterday.
  • Everyone gets a much needed day of rest today. Sleep well, eat well, and get plenty of rest. We’ve only got 12 days to opening night.
  • Warbucks’ address, 987 5th Avenue in New York, overlooks Central Park in Manhattan and is right across from the street from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I guess if he doesn’t like the Mona Lisa, he just sends it across the street and takes the tax deduction.

Tom Vander Well plays Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks in USP’s production of Annie. He is the current President of USP, though his views are not necessarily those of USP, it’s Board of Directors, or members.

Enhanced by Zemanta