Pioneer Playhouse of Danville opens the second show of its 74th season, Farce of Nature, with a bang on Tuesday, July 4th.
“It’s a little unusual starting on July 4th,” admits Heather Henson, managing director of the theatre her father, Col. Eben C. Henson, founded in 1950. “There will definitely be some fireworks in the background, but that’s just part of the charm of outdoor theatre.”
Farce of Nature, penned by the writing team of Jones, Hope, and Wooten, will run Tuesdays through Saturdays, July 4 through July 22. The comedy is set in a family-run fishing lodge in the Ozarks that’s seen better days. Enter a bungling cop on witness protection duty and a couple of Chicago wise guys, and business definitely starts to pick up.
“What’s hilarious is that each character has their own agenda,” says Heather. “The married couple that owns the inn, played by fan favorites, Patricia Hammond and Daniel Hall Kuhn, are keeping secrets from each, and then one crazy character after another shows up, each with something fishy up their sleeves.”
Beside Hammond and Kuhn, the play stars Erika Lee Sengstack, Peyton White, and Jack Giglia who all appeared in the first show of the season, Blood Suede Shoes. Joining the cast will be veterans of the Playhouse stage, Rita Hight and Eric Seale. New to the roster is Jonny Maldonado.
“We worked with Jonny in New York City this past fall during our Voices Inside festival of short plays by incarcerated writers,” says Robby Henson, brother to Heather, and artistic director of Pioneer Playhouse. “He’s a terrific actor, and we’re lucky he was able to join us.”
Maldonado, a lifelong resident of the Lower East Side of Manhattan, teaches theatre at City College of New York and performs regularly at The People’s Improv in NYC.
“I’m happy to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city and come to this lovely state that I’ve never been to before,” says Maldonado. “I laughed so many times as I first read the script, and have been laughing even harder now that it’s coming to life.”
Director Jennifer Goff, an associate professor and director of the theatre program at Centre College, returns for her third show having previously directed Southern Fried Funeral and Southern Fried Nuptials, two hugely popular comedies with Playhouse audiences.
“It’s been such a blast being back this summer!” says Goff. “Farce of Nature is so silly, and the cast and I have had a great time leaning into the wild comedy of it. We have laughed a lot over our rehearsal process – and we can’t wait to pass that fun along to the audience!”
“We love working with Jen, and we love partnering with Centre College on sponsoring this play,” says Heather. “Centre College is a terrific supporter of the arts in Danville.”
Pioneer Playhouse is located at 840 Stanford Road in Danville. The brand-new optional pre-show dinner gives patrons a choice of Beef au Jus or BBQ Chicken Breast plus sides. Prices for dinner and show are $36; $20 for show only. Discounts for kids and groups are available. Tickets may be purchased online at pioneerplayhouse.com or by calling the box office at 859-236-2747.