Sold-out audiences enjoy “good food and a fabulous play” at Kamsack Players dinner theatre

A light-hearted comedy that the whole family could enjoy was what the Kamsack Players Drama Club offered during their most recent dinner theatre production.

No Body like Jimmy, by Burton Bumgarner, is a comedy in two acts, with a strong cast of 11 actors.

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The OCC Hall was transformed into a formal dining venue with seating for 150 people on both Friday and Saturday nights.

“The tickets for the dinner theatre sold out faster this year than any other,” remarked Nancy Brunt, the play’s director.

In the world of theatre, it has been said that “having a good cast makes an already humorous comedy that much better.”

This two-act play, “set somewhere in the USA, just not in Texas,” will long be remembered for the memorable characters so aptly played by members of the Drama Club; one could say they were “a good cast.”

In the play, guests start to arrive and there’s a body sitting on the sofa in the middle of the room.  Everyone thinks that he's alive, and they end up having “one-sided” conversations with him.

The role of the dead body “Jimmy,” described as “a strong, silent type” who appears front and centre, was challenging and required a great deal of concentration, and was adroitly played by James Perry.

The role also included difficult “timing gags” with Jimmy falling over, and having to be picked up.

Perry is no stranger to the Kamsack stage, and has appeared in several roles in the past, most recently as Paul in the Player’s dinner theatre production of Drinking Habits in 2017. Having been involved in theatre for four decades, he was recently elected the Club’s president.

How did a body become positioned on the Vanlandingham’s sofa, just before an elegant dinner party? How does a dead body become the life of the party? It all begins when the doorbell rings…

Ralph Vanlandingham, convincingly played byJack Koreluik, opens the door to find his old college roommate, Harold,played with enthusiasm by Adrian Hovrisko, standing there.

Hovrisko is a veteran of the Player’s Drama Club, who has appeared in many productions, including a few competition plays. Most recently, he appeared as Bobby in last year’s dinner theatre production of Exit Laughing where he took “taking one for the team” to a whole new level.

Harold is the type of friend that one might describe: “With friends like you, who needs enemies?” He has a criminal record, but always has a “good excuse” for his “bad behaviour,” and right now he wants a favour; he has a dead body in his van, and he needs a temporary place to stash it.

For his good friend Ralph, the timing could not be worse, asRalph and his wife, Eloise Vanlandingham, played by Jack’s real-life spouse, Karen Koreluik, are set to host a political fundraising dinner for Eloise who is running for Congress.

Ralph justifiably believes that when hosting an elegant dinner for influential guests who may help get his wife elected to Congress, “It’s not good for a candidate to be seen with a convicted felon.”

Circumstance leads the two men to drag the body into the house, placing “Jimmy” on the living room sofa. Harold tells Ralph he was “just doing his job like usual” for Big Mike Delucciano, when the mob boss instructed him “to take care of the mess in the garage,” where he discovered a body! “I didn’t know part of my job description would be getting rid of dead guys!”

Although Eloise wants Harold gone, Ralph is unable to let him leave until the trouble he has brought into the house is taken care of.

Jack is most notable for his work as a director with the Drama Club, having led the cast in Exit Laughing last year, Drinking Habits in 2017 and Death and Taxes in 2015. Also behind the scenes, he is involved in set design and construction, as well as technical aspects of lighting and sound effects. His last acting performance was in the Players’ production of Sadie Flynn Comes to Big Oak in June of 2017.

Karen, as Eloise, is less than happy that her husband is taking time to entertain his old college roommate who is “nothing but trouble,” adding, “Please get rid of Harold. He can come back tomorrow and ruin your life.”

Karen is relatively new to the Kamsack Players, having portrayed the character of Millie in her debut performance last year in the play Exit Laughing.

The role of Nigel Hudson, a famous political speech writer, is played by Zennovia Duch, who is described as a “mainstay with the Kamsack Players since its resurgence in 2006 when the group produced Murder by Indecision.” She has appeared in many lead and supporting roles. Her past experiences onstage may very well have given her the insight to be able to fine tune her performance as Nigel, a role in which she totally immersed herself into character.

Nigel may be the best speechwriter in the business, but according to Diane Comstock, played by Maureen Humeniuk, “he is an arrogant jerk. You know the word that best describes him? Smarmy! I don’t think that accent is even real.” This role marks Humeniuk’s second stage performance with the Drama Club. Last year she played Leona in Exit Laughing.

Diane is “a successful political campaign manager,” and is spearheading Eloise’s campaign for Congress, so she wants the dinner party to go as smoothly as possible, because she is hoping to secure a large campaign donation from the “wealthy Texans.”

On stage, Kevin Sprong brought to life the character of Rick Pitman, marking his third performance with the Players, having last played Father Chenille in Drinking Habits. Pitman is a wealthy Texan looking to bribe a potential congress woman. His Texas drawl, made all the more humourous when mixed with Sprong’s real-life Afrikaans inflection, was mocked by his character wife Emma Pitman (Tanya Riabko) in the play when she says, “Rick doesn’t talk like the people in Texas, either. I honestly don’t know what’s wrong with him.”

Riabko portrays Emma, the “better half” of the wealthy couple, with style and flair in this, her fifth time on stage with the Drama Club. Her most recent performance was as Rachel Ann Harland in last year’s Exit Laughing.

Where there’s a body, most likely the police will show up, and when they do, they are most unwelcome. When the doorbell rings, and Ralph opens the door coming face-to-face with Officer Linda (Ellen Amundsen-Case) and Officer Cooper (Nicole Larson), the tension and comedy rise another notch.

Amundsen-Case as Officer Linda is no-nonsense and ready to crack the case, based on a report that a neighbor “saw a man dragging another man” into the Vanlandingham residence.

This is Amundsen-Case’s seventh role with the Players, and last year she appeared in two plays back-to-back. In the play Light, she appeared in Theatre Saskatchewan’s one-act festival, and was in last year’s dinner theatre production of Exit Laughing.

Larson as Cooper, a police trainee on her first day on the job, brings the character a complex dimension of eagerness but also contriteness. As the seasoned cop, Linda admonishes Cooper soundly, time and again. “Officer Cooper, I’ll handle this call. You pretend you’re an inanimate object,” but Cooper’s enthusiasm is not diminished, only slightly dampened.

Larson has been very active with the Players throughout the years, playing a multitude of character roles. With the club executive, she holds the position of past president, and made her directorial debut in 2017 for Sadie Flynn Comes to Big Oak.

Ralph is anxious for the police to leave because, “My wife is running for Congress and this little party, well, it wouldn’t look good for the police to be looking around.”

Fearing that the police are looking for “Maria,” an illegal alien employed by the wealthy Texans, and petrified that they will discover Jimmy, he says, “I’m willing to co-operate. I’m more than willing to co-operate. I’m dying to co-operate, that’s a bad choice of words. I really, really, really want to co-operate. But could I co-operate tomorrow?”

Baxter (Casey Dix) is a server with an attitude and a drinking problem, working the Vanlandingham’s party, and is one of several characters who engage in deep one-sided conversations with the dead man.

In an ironic, comedic twist of the plot, as the different characters find themselves alone with Jimmy, they really open up to “the man of few words” and in so doing, portray who they really are.

For Dix, this was her third role with the Drama Club, having portrayed Sadie Flynn in Sadie Flynn Comes to Big Oak.

The comedy becomes hysterical when it is discovered that Jimmy is “a dead guy on a sofa,” and the plot begins to reveal that more than one person believes that they are responsible for Jimmy’s demise.

The Pitmans believe they have killed Jimmy when they tried to take him with them to their hotel room, and he fell and struck his head on the curb, so “he kinda killed himself.”

Nigel, the speech writer, believes he struck and killed Jimmy with his vehicle.

Baxter, the server, believes Jimmy died as a result of consuming the “Hang-Away” drink she gave him as an antidote to all the alcohol which she believed he had earlier consumed, and Diane, the campaign manager, thinks she killed him when she accidently struck him with her umbrella.

When Officer Linda comes back on stage and determines that “Jimmy” has been dead for quite some time, the identity of the “body” is finally solved when she finds his identification in his suit pocket…wait for it…“This man’s name isn’t Jimmy.”

The play had the audience “laughing out loud,” and the cast was rewarded with a standing ovation.

This was Nancy Brunt’s fifth opportunity to direct a Player’s production. “It’s been a tremendous amount of fun, and this is a terrific cast,” she said. “Everyone has worked really hard since rehearsals began in September. There have been no issues or challenges in putting the dinner theatre together.

“The cast has been having fun on stage, and the headsets have been working really well.

“As a group, the Players appreciate the hair and makeup skills of Cyndal Gibb of Boggy Creek, who is Magnetic Makeup Artistry, and Lexie Koroluk of Kamsack. Both women have donated their time.

“We appreciate the volunteers who help with set-up and clean-up, Shelley Filipchuk who is the banquet co-ordinator, and Tyler Filipchuk who is in charge of lighting and sound for a second year,” she concluded.

At age 14, Tyler is the youngest member of the Kamsack Players Drama Club, it was said.

“Candace Doogan of Candy’s Catering in Canora provided the banquet meal this year,” said Shelley. “The Players acknowledge all the businesses and individuals who have donated to the rainbow auction.

“We did a 50/50 draw on both nights. Proceeds of $395 from one night is going to the Kamsack swimming pool Dive In Campaign, and an amount of $500 is going to the Assiniboine Valley Health and Wellness Foundation, Inc.

“The air cadets are volunteering their time to help, as are members of the Kamsack Volunteer Fire Department, and the Drama Club will be making donations to them as well.

Jack Koreluik designs the programs and Andrychuk’s Funeral home donates the printing. For this production, the cast was mainly responsible for their own costuming, but were assisted by Karen Tourangeau.

“We are blessed with a good complement of volunteers to help make this happen,” she concluded.