Have you ever been on a journey and it sparks another and another? Don Browning has returned to his home of Winterset, Iowa to attend the baptism of his 6 month old nephew Joey and it has sparked an avalanche of memories from a childhood vacation in the family station wagon and a desire to fulfill his father’s final request.
If you are thinking; “What the heck are you typing about now Wilkie?” I’m referring to the critically-acclaimed play opening at The Beaver Dam Area Community Theater at 219 North Spring Street this Friday at 7:30 pm, “Leaving Iowa,” by Tim Clue and Spike Manton. It is a hilarious, family-friendly comedy that is a toast to the idealism and character of parents from the “greatest generation,” and a little roast of their dedication to the family road trip.
“Leaving Iowa” is a postcard to anyone who has ever found themselves driving alone on a road, revisiting fond memories of their youth. Don Browning, a middle-aged writer, played by Trevor Kastein, returns home and decides to finally take his father’s ashes to his childhood home, as requested. But when Don discovers Grandma’s house is now a grocery store, he begins traveling across Iowa in search of a proper resting place. As he drives those familiar roads, the story shifts back and forth from the present to memories of the annual, torturous vacations of Don’s youth. Ultimately, Don’s existential journey leads him to reconcile his past and present at an unpredictable and perfect final destination.
The Browning’s are a typical 1960s family of four, and was cast perfectly by Director Brian Reilly. Don’s father, played by Mike Clawson, a former baseball coach; is a classic example of the over-eager road trip dad, dorky and unaware at times, but passionate about “fun” family adventures – a good guy at heart. Don’s mother. played capably by Marie Vossekuil, is tender and loving, and a dutiful wife, willing to go along with Dad on his lackluster vacations. Marie is the glue that holds the production together. Don’s little sister; played by Bonnie Franke, appears as a child to begin the play and recurs as an adult in a few scenes, but is primarily used in flashbacks as the antagonistic presence in the back seat. Bonnie, who has three young daughters at home, had a wealth of practical experience to draw upon when honing Sis’s characterizations.
Along the journey both in the past and in present time, Don and the family meet up with some wonderfully quirky characters played by BDACT new comer Chris Connolly and returning actor Dan Landsness. BDACT patrons will like both actors whose chemistry has really gelled. Prepare to howl in several scenes, particularly Dan’s portrayal of Lt. Dan and Chris’s portrayal of a drunken hotel guest attempting to find a lost room key.
BDACT audiences love family friendly shows and “Leaving Iowa” fits that bill nicely. Leaving Iowa first premiered at Jeff Daniels’ Purple Rose Theatre, where it broke box office records and received a nomination for Best New Play from the Detroit Free Press.
The remainder of the crew consists of Stage Manager Jennifer Bohlig, Producer James Stricker, Costumes and stage hand Laural Connolly, Beth Jewell on Props, Bob Schwoch is Sound Effects Technician, Tom Szewcyk is House Manager, and yours truly at Light Design and show mentor.
219 N Spring St
October 17, 18, 23, 24, 25 at 7:30 pm October 19 & 26 at 2:00 pm
$15.00 Regular Admission
Tickets on sale at Rechek’s Food Pride 920-887-7675