SKITS performers bringing entertainment to Shell Knob

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

By Melonie Roberts

There's a new gang in town, and they're likely to tickle the funnybones of area residents.

SKITS (Shell Knob in the Spotlight), is a neighborhood theater group effort spearheaded by Jim Robinson, who has plans to have some short monologues and talent solos premiered at this year's Shakin' in the Shell Festival, slated for Saturday, Sept. 21.

Robinson attended college in southern California, where he took an acting class with his daughter.

"I was cast as the superintendent of schools in their production of "Children of a Lesser God," Robinson said. After several years of building sets and working behind the stage at various community theaters, Robinson decided he wanted to try his hand at acting.

"The lead actor in "All Because of Agatha" broke his leg two weeks before the play," Robinson said. "He thought he could go ahead and try it, but a week before we opened, he decided he couldn't, so I was asked to step in and play the role. After that point, I was asked more

often to audition for parts." After moving to Missouri in 1998, Robinson and his daughter again hit the boards for various productions through his granddaughter's ballet troupe, most memorably, "The Nutcracker." "I was the drunken governor in that one," he laughed. "I played the dad in "Hairspray," and the gravedigger in "Nightmare Before Christmas."

Robinson eventually retired to the Cassville area in 2012, and decided he missed acting so much, he would form a local community theater.

"No one wants to drive to Springfield or Joplin to be in a production," Robinson said. "I thought, 'Why not start one here?' We would promote local people, as well as visiting artists. So far, there has been a great response from the community."

Robinson is currently auditioning artists for the Shakin' in the Shell Festival to promote the newly formed organization.

"I hope to get teens involved," Robinson said. "There is a lot of talent out there and they can do minute-long monologues, dramatic or humorous bits. It would give the kids in Barry County something to do. We need people of all ages for productions.

"We're looking to have fun," he continued. "This would be a good experience, a good basis from which to start building."

Robinson already has an active board who is putting together a committee to research summer stock options, the first Hillbilly Ozark Christmas and possibly street theater options.

"We're not limited to a stage," Robinson said. "One of our board members was a performance water-skier, so we are looking at anything that would better the community and give residents the opportunity to have a little bit of fun."

Robinson said performers for Shakin' in the Shell are not judged for their quality of performance.

"If they want to get up and sing, we'll provide a place and time for them to

do it," he said. "Open call is Thursday, Aug. 1. We need to know who is coming and organize the material.

"Next year, we hope to put on some sort of production every three months," he continued. "We'll hold production performances to higher standards."

For more information on SKITS, call 47-499-4551 or e-mail shellknobspot- light@yahoo.com.

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