Central Campus actors take a trip back in time this weekend with a show that mixes poodle skirts, newspapers, comedy and murder in a good-old fashioned comedy that might remind folks of "Leave it to Beaver" or "The Andy Griffith Show."
Central Campus Playmakers will present their midwinter production of "The Babbling Brooks" by Kurtz Gordon this weekend. The show will perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, with their final performance at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
After showcasing more than 30 actors in the fall production, this show's 14 actors have much more responsibility to carry the show. Set in the 1950s, "The Babbling Brooks" follows the troubles surrounding the Brooks family, who are known around town for their gossiping ways. When Betty (played by Ciela Ashworth) decides she wants to launch her own newspaper, The Babbler, with some of her friends, she makes the slogan "See All, Hear All, Tell All." To succeed in that, she decides to hide a microphone in the living room to see what her mother Nettie (Marie Cadwalader) talks about on the phone, since her mother seems to know about everything that happens in their town. When Betty overhears the details of a gruesome murder being planned by their houseguests, she's got the scoop that will launch her little newspaper into instant success.
The Brooks family, from left to right, Ciela Ashworth as Betty, Kyler Johnson as Homer, Madi Williams as Granny, Marie Cadwalader as Nettie and Anah Farmer as Norma.
The controversy that comes from the printed prediction disrupts the budding romance between the local sheriff (Lucas Johnson) and the eldest Brooks daughter (Anah Farmer). It also hurts the lone Brooks boy, Homer (Kyler Johnson), who is trying to court a young lady whose family is featured in The Babbler. Laughs, surprises and a twist ending keep this trip back to the '50s full of fun, with a little bit of suspense as well.
Learning the language of the 1950s proved to be a bigger challenge than many of the actors expected.
"Expressions like "Hot Dog!" seem like a foreign language," said Johnson.
Other reactions focused on the changing nature of words.
"When my brother (Homer) asks how we are 'making out,' I want to laugh every time," Farmer said.
"I'm glad this era has passed," said newcomer Morgan Leamer.
Some, however, found the outfits of the time period the most fun part of the show.
"I wish we still dressed like this today," said Sammy Ellingsworth, who plays the ditzy blond Kaye.
Physical comedy also added unique challenges for the cast. A
classic "pie in the face" gag took several attempts to get right, and made for quite a mess during one rehearsal.
"It turns out that if whipped cream is left out too long, it turns to a liquid," said stage manager Katana Jenne.
"It's actually fun, but it's really cold," said Johnson, who gets hit in the face every night.
"The Babbling Brooks" is appropriate for all audiences. There are no reservations needed. The doors will open 30 minutes before the show performs. Tickets are $5 for students and $7 for adults.
(Chad Gifford is a teacher at Central Campus and the director of "The Babbling Brooks.")