The play opening at the Arlene Theater by the Mouse River Players Community Theatre tonight is a comedy of errors - on wheels.
"Leaving Iowa" is a play about a man going on a road trip to satisfy his father's final wish - to have his ashes strewn at his family homestead. David Bradley plays the father, with Katie Haarsager portraying his wife. Jenny Castro and Jake Flaten play the children, Sis and Don.
"Katie is the only one I haven't worked with extensively," said director Ryan Haider. "They've been open-minded about the characters, no preconceived notions. They came through and brought their own flair to the characters."
From left, Chris Stroschein, Katie Haarsager, Jennie Castro, Jake Flaten and David Bradley rehearse a scene from “Leaving Iowa,” which runs tonight through Sunday at the Arlene Theater downtown.
"This is something everyone can relate to," said Haider's assistant, Kelly Thom. "Everyone has been on the road trip from hell that stays in the memory forever."
Writers Tim Clue and Spike Manton have been writing partners on smaller projects, and in completing "Leaving Iowa" they drew on their own past trips with their families.
"It's set in the present, when the kids are mostly grown, but there are flashbacks from family trips taken 20 years ago," Thom said. "So we have a set of car seats on stage with the costumes and sets suggestive of the different locales and times."
To supplement the memories, an ensemble of three actors, Karen Anderson, Chris Stroschein and Maddie Thompson, cycle through numerous characters each.
An example of a flashback involves the time the family had a choice when traveling to Hannibal, Mo., to visit either a flea market or a cemetery.
Mom goes to the flea market and Dad to the cemetery. Don goes with Mom and Sis with Dad. Unfortunately, the flea market has turned into an Amish market with 3-year-old pies and petrified Apache toenails, while the cemetery is now a go-kart track.
"The gist of it is, Don always gets the short end of the stick," Thom said. "It always seems to be the opposite of the way it should be."
Even now, when he reaches Grandma's house, he finds it is no longer there. But now, looking back on these memories as an adult, he finds that the trips weren't as bad as he thought.
"Leaving Iowa" runs tonight through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 each. Reservations may be made by calling 866-667-1977. Season tickets are now on sale for $45 for three main stage shows and a musical.