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So, a breakthrough of sorts this weekend; Mrs. K and I attended the opening night performance of Jeff Daniel’s play Escanaba in da Moonlight and it marked the very first time either of us had ever been to a Buck Creek Players show. Shame on us! For years I have known of the high quality of shows done there – marked as such by the plethora of Encore Awards nominations and wins this theatre company receives year after year. Anyway – one show and I am a big fan of the place.

John Carver directed this outrageously funny play, the story of which “you ain’t gonna believe”. Here, we observe the Soady family: father Albert, perfectly played by Ken Ganza, and sons Remnar and Reuben, impeccably played by Stefan U.G. LeBlanc and Joe Siefker, respectively. It’s their annual first day of deer season gathering, along with their wacky friend, Jimmer Neganamee, played in a flawless whirl by Tim Staggs, and the air is heavy with the notion that brother Reuben may be cursed because at age 39 he has yet to kill his first buck. The way Reuben decides that he must change his luck provides the bulk of the storyline for this laugh-filled, crazy-notioned, oddball-charactered piece.

Stefan U.G. LeBlanc as Remnar, Ken Ganza as Albert, Joe Siefker as Reuban and Tim Staggs as Jimmer in "Escanaba in da Moonlight"

Stefan U.G. LeBlanc as Remnar, Ken Ganza as Albert, Joe Siefker as Reuban and Tim Staggs as Jimmer in “Escanaba in da Moonlight”

Ganza, LeBlanc and Siefker make an awesome team, mixing their visual comedy skills with expert timing to create hardy laughter. Add Stagg’s odd talking Jimmer (he was abducted by aliens one weekend and has never been the same) and the situations snowball into high comedy and the laughter is frequently – dare I say it – side-splitting. This is a really funny show! As if the 4 hunters aren’t funny enough, we soon meet the DNR officer Tom T. Treado, adroitly played by Dennis Karr, and any shred of propriety that remains is out the window. Lastly, Cerissa Marsh is very effective in her too short appearance as Reuben’s Indian wife, Moon Dance Soady, near the end.

Director Carver has put together a perfect cast – actors who are not afraid to take big chances onstage because they know they will be awarded with big laughs. The first ten minutes of Act 2 has to be some of the best comedy I have seen in this area in many years. Outrageous? Yes. Base? A bit. Funny? No – hilarious!

Honestly, I read this play a number of years ago, with interest to submit it as a director, but I never could resolve some of the situational problems that the script throws at you. I congratulate John Carver for pulling off a masterful job of production. As always, comedy is hard, but the talented cast and crew on this project make it look easy.

If you like to laugh, I highly recommend that you go see this show. It continues Sat and Sun this weekend (1/26 and 27) and one more Fri-Sun weekend (2/1 thru 2/3) at Buck Creek Players theatre off I-74’s exit 99, southeast of town. Fri-Sat shows are at 8 pm – Sunday shows begin at 2:30 pm.

Go to www.buckcreekplayers.com for more info about the theatre, it’s location and it’s season. You can call 317-862-2270 for reservations (reservations are recommended!).

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