Apple Valley theater to present melodrama in tribute to founder

A theater near Perry Lake is paying tribute to its founder this summer by fulfilling one of his last requests: a production of the melodrama "The Drunkard."

The Dale Easton Theatre at Apple Valley Farm will stage the play at 8:30 p.m. Saturdays until Sept. 29.

"He asked me last year if I'd do 'The Drunkard' and I said, 'No, not without you,'" said Karen Hastings, founder of the Karen Hastings Players and director of the Dale Easton Theatre.

Easton, who started the theater in 1970, died July 17, 2000. Hastings vowed that if she was asked back to direct the theater this year by Apple Valley Farm owners Peggi and Terry Day, she would put the melodrama on the lineup.

"It's a tribute (to Dale), but it's so much fun it almost feels like it should be illegal," she said. "I had forgotten how zany 'The Drunkard' is.

"For an actor, it's no-holds-barred and you're able to emote," she said, adding that the play has a cast of 10. "It's pure family entertainment."

In addition to "The Drunkard," the theater will present "Toby" at 8:30 p.m. Fridays June 8-Sept. 14.

"Toby is an old stock character from the early 1900s," Hastings said. "He's a country bumpkin who can be arrogant but is also wise. He always has a red wig, freckles, a hat and clothes that don't match."

The show will feature music from the early 1900s and a cast of seven.

In October, the theater company will present "Frankenstein" as a radio show at 8 p.m. each Saturday.

Members of the Karen Hastings Players are Phil Grecian, Carl Peckham, John Shoemaker, Fred Salazar, Jeff Boyer, David Weyhrauch, Kirsten Hannah, John Hannah, Sally Jenkins, Ute Mueller, Stephanie Schuttera, Melissa Boyer and Hastings.

Mueller and Janet Glassman are stage managers. Joe Kampsen is pianist, and house manager is Kathy Hastings.

Karen Hastings says she and the company's members have worked hard to make the Apple Valley Farm productions top-notch and to live up to the standards established by Easton.

"I'm not a Dale Easton wannabe but I do want to respect and make tribute to a kind of theater in which he excelled," she said. "(Melodrama) is a fantastic genre, and it should not die out. So I've struggled to bring that back. It's not a labor of grief. It's strictly a labor of love."


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