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franklin county times

Bay Tree Council for Performing Arts finishes revival run of ‘Bad Year for Tomatoes’

Laughter filled the theatre night after night Feb. 9-12 as the Bay Tree Council for the Performing Arts performed its second production of the season, a revival of the comedy “A Bad Year for Tomatoes,” written by John Patrick, at Community Spirit Bank’s Weatherford Centre in downtown Red Bay.

AUDIENCE REACTIONS

“We come every time,” remarked Joyce Whitehead. “There are always a lot of laughs, and we just enjoy the experience.”

Audiences were treated to seeing the “gracious, glamorous Myra Marlowe, fed up with fame after a very long career as a television actress, retreat to the small town of Beaver Haven, Vermont, planning to live quietly and anonymously, write her juicy autobiography and grow her own tomatoes.”

Isabella Russell described the play as “really funny,” a sentiment echoed by Carter and Casie O’Neal.

REPRISING THEIR ROLES

Scotty Kennedy, as Tom Lamont, and Tina Smith, as Myra Marlowe, reprised their roles from the play’s original run, and Mark Richardson returned as director.

“It’s been 15 years since we performed this play,” explained Kennedy, who has performed in more than 40 BTCPA productions. He has also directed several, performed many jobs behind the scenes and served as chairman of the board at various points.  “It was such a hit that this is the one we chose to bring back this season. It’s a huge laugh and a crazy story about some unusual characters. We had a great group of actors in this production, and we had a ball rehearsing this play.

Smith, who has now completed her 32nd BTCPA production, agreed.

“I loved doing this play 15 years ago, and I loved getting to perform it again,” she said. “It has a lot of physical comedy, which was very fun to do, and a lot of one-liners that are very hilarious.

ENJOYING THEIR PARTS

“I always enjoy being in the plays,” explained Sharon Page Strickland, who played Willa Mae Wilcox, a fortune teller in the show.

She said she has been in four plays with the group. “When you’re in one, you get the acting fever and want to keep being in more,” she explained. “This play is really funny, and I enjoyed it a lot.

She said the best thing is when “you know the audience is really laughing.

“The more they laugh, it seems like the better you do, and this one is really funny,” she said. “We’re just all like one big family, and it’s so much fun.”

For Brente Jeffreys, who played the sheriff, it’s an experience he describes as being especially enjoyable.

“We had a good group of folks to work with,” Jeffreys said. “I just enjoy participating in the plays, and I think this was probably my seventh. I like being around different folks, and it’s sort of a little family here.

For Holly McKinney, who played one of the hospitality ladies, the experience was of extra note, as it was the first time she’s performed in a play.

“I was a little nervous, but it’s been fun, and we had a great cast and director and crew,” she explained.

Other cast members included Brittany Faris as Reba Harper, Theron Struzik as Piney and Jeanmarie Moore as the stage manager.

Faris is a native and resident of Golden, Miss., and this production was her sixth with the BTCPA. Struzik, originally from Nevada, was performing his seventh show with the group. Moore is a senior at Red Bay High School, and she has been involved in nine BTCPA productions.

Additional crew members included Matt Hester as videographer and Beth Hammock as ticket coordinator. Set design and construction were provided by Danny Cleveland, Brenda Cardenas, Melvin Dotson and Darlene Dotson. Admissions and concessions were coordinated by Joey Allen, Torrey Lewey, Anna Carol Porter, Gary McKinney, Emily Edmonton, Clint Sikes, Molly Thorn and Brandi Cook.

DIRECTOR’S INPUT

Richardson, who also handled lights and sound, estimated he’s directed “around 30 or so plays” with the BTCPA in Red Bay over the years.

“It’s been a nostalgic return, and it’s been a lot of fun. We always have a lot of support from the community,” he added. “This is a wonderful play.”

COMMUNITY ENTHUSIASM

“My family and I always look forward to attending the BTCPA plays,” explained Shelley Ozbirn, who remarked the cast always “really gets into their roles.

“We are lucky to have access to this wonderful family entertainment in our local area,” she added. “The cast members are always very talented, and they did a great job once again, making everyone laugh in this hilarious performance.

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