2014 Ham Buns and Potato Salad

Five Things You Want to Know About “Ham Buns & Potato Salad”

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Union Street Players, Pella’s award-winning community theatre, is working on the world premiere of a locally written play entitled Ham Buns and Potato Salad. Here are the answers to five questions we’ve been getting:

1. What’s the play about?
Ham Buns and Potato Salad is a full-length comedy in two acts set in the fictional Iowa town of Hebron (population 318). There has been a tragic accident and the town is preparing for the funeral of a beloved couple who were life-long members of the community. The couple’s son, Thomas, is coming home to Hebron for the funeral and it is the first time he’s been to Hebron since he left for college twelve years earlier. Traveling with Thomas is his agent, Gladys Iskowitch, a Jewish New York dame who is visiting Iowa for the first time.

When Thomas left, the town was embroiled in a scandal that involved both him and his next door neighbor and best friend, Marian. The scandal was never resolved and has become the fodder of endless speculative conversation for the farmers who gather at the cafe twice a day for coffee time. Now that Thomas is returning home for the funeral, the heat is turned up on the long-simmering scandal.

Add to the mix a Vietnam veteran whose flashbacks send the citizens of Hebron running for cover, a cantankerous old Dutchman, a former high school sports hero continually reliving his glory days, and you have the perfect recipe for an evening of laughter.

2. What does the title Ham Buns and Potato Salad mean?

If you attend funerals in central Iowa, you’ll find that the menu at the reception is always the same: ham buns, potato salad, chips, brownies, Jell-O cake, water, iced tea, and coffee. The title of the play points to the event which drives the action in the play (the funeral of Thomas’ parents). It also points to a theme of grief that is subtly present for most of the characters in one way or another.

3. Will I like it?

Yes. There is something in this play for everyone:
If you like comedy: You’ll enjoy a lot of laughs. (Guaranteed.)
If you like drama: You’ll enjoy the serious theme that emerges. (Yep, also guaranteed.)
If you like kids: We have one in the cast. (Her name is Lily. She’s adorable.)
If you like romance: You’ll enjoy the love story. (Stories, actually. There’s bonus romance at no extra charge.)
If you like action: You’ll enjoy the gun fire. (Not kidding. There really is gun fire. Blanks, of course.)
If you like thrillers: You’ll love the twist. (M. Night Shyamalan eat your heart out.)

4. Who is in it?

Cyndi Atkins, Karl Deakyne, Doug DeWolf, Jana DeZwarte, Denise Gregory, Griffin Hammel, Mark Moreland, Arvin Van Zante, Wendy Vander Well, and Lily Villalobos.

5. Is it appropriate for children or families?

Parental Guidance is suggested, so call it PG. The show is not intended for younger children, but teens and some pre-teens will enjoy it. There is very little swearing (one “hell” and a few “my god”s) but parents should know that adult themes are addressed. We can’t say more without giving things away.

6. (BONUS QUESTION!) How can I see it?

Ham Buns and Potato Salad will be performed in the Pella Community Center (712 Union Street, Pella, Iowa) April 10-12 at 7:00 p.m. and April 13 at 2:00 p.m. The show runs approximately 2 hours with an intermission. Tickets are $8 for adults in advance and $10 at the door; $6 for students in advance and $8 at the door. Tickets can be purchased on-line in advance by clicking HERE.

 

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01 Auditions & Talent Calls

Auditions for Pella Opera House’s “The Dining Room”

This from USP member, and Opera House Director, Kevin McQuade:

AUDITION NOTICE

 

Pella Opera House Logo

THE PELLA OPERA HOUSE

PRODUCTION OF

A.R. GURNEY’S

THE DINING ROOM

 

AUDITIONS

Monday, November 11, 6 to 9 p.m.

Tuesday, November 12, 6 to 9 p.m.

Saturday, November 16, 1 to 4 p.m.

 

Six Actors Needed

(three women, three men)

 

These are paid positions. Each actor will receive a $250 stipend.

Acting experience highly preferred.

Where: Pella Opera House, theatre (2nd floor)

What: please come prepared to tell a one-minute (maximum) joke. Cold readings from the script will also be conducted. One-page resumés and headshots are not required, but they are welcome.

When: this production will have two performances. Friday and Saturday, February 14-15, 2014 at 7 p.m.

Who: the ensemble consists of six actors who each play ~9 roles. Ideally, we need people who have the ability to play a wide range of ages and personalities. Any adult, as well as any high school junior or senior with access to transportation is welcome to audition.

Questions? Please contact the director, Kevin McQuade, at 641-628-8628, or at kevin@pellaoperahouse.org

2011 Vintage Hitchcock

“Hitchcock” Thrills; Now Heads to Newton

Union Street Players finished their run of Joe Landry’s “Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play” on Sunday afternoon. The show recreated what it was like to be in the live studio audience for the live broadcast of Alfred Hitchcock’s radio dramas. It was a completely new concept for many audience members, while those who grew up in the Golden Age of Radio found themselves taking a trip down memory lane.

“I just closed my eyes and I was back in childhood with my family huddled around the radio,” on audience member said after the show.

As with most spring productions, attendance was low. Though, with the show falling on spring break week, the numbers were unusually slim.

Thu Mar 10: 35
Fri Mar 11: 79
Sat Mar 12: 55
Sun Mar 13: 44

Total attendance: 213

While the curtain has dropped for the last time on this Pella production, several members of the cast and crew are taking a piece of the show to the Iowa Community Theatre Festival in Newton. The annual festival of the Iowa Community Theatre Association features productions from community theatres around the state. Productions at the festival are judged, with one show going on to regional competition. USP plans to produce one of the three Hitchcock pieces, “Sabotage,”  for the festival.

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00 News & Updates

USP is Real “Community” Theatre

We approach the New Year holiday, and it’s natural to have a little time of introspection. Where have we been? Where do we find ourselves? Where are we going?

Union Street Players ended 2010 with one of the most successful, if not the most successful, production in our 23 years. Annie capped another successful season. KOLD Radio warmed audiences with laughter in the spring.  Charlotte’s Web delighted audience members of all ages (with a cast of all ages) this past summer.

As I stood back stage a few weeks ago, I marveled at what community theatre represents. Well over one hundred people made up the cast, band, and production crew for Annie. People drove from miles round to be part of it. Other than a very small gift USP provides to our directors, no one is paid for their time or compensated for their talents when it comes to USP productions. Each year, hundreds of people come together to devote themselves to putting on a handful of performances. It’s not about money and it’s not about fame. At the heart of it, community theatre is really about community.

USP is looking forward to another great season in 2011 with three productions we know our audiences will love. We begin the year by taking our audiences back to the days of old-time radio. Vintage Hitchcock is a compilation of three radio plays by the master of suspense himself. This summer, the fable of The Princess and the Pea comes to life in a funny, musical classic made famous by Carol Burnett in Once Upon a Mattress. We end the year with a heartwarming, music-filled, family Christmas offering, A Tinkerman Christmas, written by our own Walk of Fame member, Beverly Graves.

Will you help keep community theatre alive and growing? USP is a non-profit organization and we depend on the financial support of local individuals and businesses. The support of our patrons allow us to continually improve the quality of our productions while keeping ticket prices reasonable. As we come to the end of the year and you consider your tax-deductible giving, I would ask that you consider making a donation to Union Street Players.

Checks should be made out to Union Street Players and can be mailed to 712 Union St., Pella, IA 50219. If you would like to make a donation using your credit card, please call 641-620-9107 and ask for Tom or Wendy.

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2010 Annie

No More “Tomorrow” for Annie

Cast Photo of Union Street Players production of "Annie"

The stage is (almost) bare. The final curtain has dropped. This is the last installment of “Daddy’s Dailies.”

For the cast and crew of Union Street Players’ production of Annie, the week of post-production blues has likely set in. It is not unusual to experience a let down the first week after production. There’s the physical let down after a couple of weeks of long evenings of rehearsal/performance, short nights of sleep, and the intense adrenaline rushes that come from being on stage. There’s the emotional let down after the climactic actors high of performing gives way to the pile of things (like Christmas shopping, work projects, school assignments, etc.) that got shoved to the back burner for the past few weeks. There is also a social let down that comes when about 100 people spend hours a day together for weeks on end and it comes to an abrupt stop. Not that we aren’t all overdue for a little rest, relaxation and regular routine. Nevertheless, don’t be surprised if things feel a little out of whack for the next week or so. Post production blues are a normal part of the experience (as are “actor’s nightmares,” so watch out!).

Final attendance figures for Annie were:

Fri Dec 3: 277
Sat Dec 4: 285
Sun Dec 5: 327

Thu Dec 9: 300
Fri Dec 10: 319
Sat Dec 11: 300

Total: 1808
Average: 301

While record keeping USP shows through our 23 year history has been erratic, there is no doubt that Annie ranks among the biggest, best attended, and highest grossing productions of all time. Congratulations to everyone for making it such a spectacular show!

Next Up

Pat Moriarity moves from the Producer’s chair to the Director’s chair for Vintage Hitchcock. This is a great show for adults who may be intimidated by the thought of all those lines to memorize. Hitchcock is a live radio play produced like the live radio theater shows of the last century. Actors read the script and use their voices to create different characters and sound effects.

Auditions are set for mid-January. Stay tuned to www.unionstreetplayers.com or follow us on Twitter @unionstplayers for more information. You can also contact Pat directly by emailing him at mort@iowatelecom.net.

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2010 Annie

Waiting, Waiting

Producer Pat Moriarity Warms Up the Cast of Annie during "The Half"

One of the things I love about theatre are the moments behind the scenes that most theater-goers never experience. As audience members enter the auditorium and settle into their seats, the 78 cast members and additional production team members of Annie pack into a room on the top floor of the Pella Community Center. It is known among stage veterans as “the half,” the 30 minutes before curtain. It can seem an eternal wait.

For Union Street Players, “the half” generally begins with a quick pep talk from director or producer. With musicals like Annie, the Music Director will often lead the cast in a quick warm-up song. Often a physical exercise to get the blood pumping is also included along with vocal exercises and tongue twisters to prepare mouths, teeth, lips and tongue to project lines clearly.

Once that is done, the cast waits for the cue for “places.” Actors talk, laugh, and share stories. There are hugs and high-fives. Pictures are taken. Some read books, newspapers and magazines. At the bottom of this post I’ve posted some more pictures I took during “The Half” before last night’s performance.

Waiting List

Speaking of waiting, the final two performances of Annie are sold out. A waiting list has been started for those who would be interested in purchasing a seat should tickets be returned or if there is a confirmed “no show.” Those on the waiting list are asked to show up 15 minutes before curtain (7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday) and, if seats are available, names will be called from the list in the order they were originally received.

Packed House for Thursday’s Show

A big pat on the back for cast and crew who kept the energy up and presented a great show on Thursday to a sold-out, packed house. Thursday performances are notorious for being “low energy” as people rush from busy jobs and lives to the show. After four days without performing, there’s always the increased threat of dropped lines, missed entrances or botched moments. That didn’t happen on Thursday as everyone performed up to the high standard set last weekend.

Closing Night for One

While tomorrow afternoon’s performance will be the closing performance for everyone, tonight’s performance will be Rachel Peter’s last performance in the lead role. Hannah Emmert will play Annie in the final performance on Saturday. Both girls have done an exceptional job in the role and have been exemplary in their selfless sharing of the starring duties. Well done, ladies.

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