Buchman, Hays to direct, perform in melodrama

Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Barry County locals Elise Buchman, third from left, and Kerry Hays, center, practice with other cast members for the upcoming performance of the melodrama, "Virtue Is Its Own Reward, or, All That Glitters May Be Gold." Both have extensive experience and educational backgrounds in theater and performance. Buchman, who is directing the melodrama, studied under the famous French actor and mime Marcel Marceau in Paris, France, and has worked as a career in repertoire theater and in a traveling children's' theatre, and Hays is trained as a classical arts singer, has sung the national anthem for Chicago Cubs games, and has directed plays and orchestras. The production will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Holiday Island, Ark. The Thursday performance includes dinner. Contributed photo

Old-fashioned production promises night of fun

The Holiday Island Theatre Group will feature two Barry County performers in its upcoming old-fashioned melodrama entitled, "Virtue Is Its Own Reward, or, All That Glitters May Be Gold."

Kerry Hays will be playing villain Rupert R. Rupert, and Elise Buchman will be directing the production. Both have extensive backgrounds in theater and performance. Three separate performances will be held on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Thursday, at 7 p.m., promising plenty of old-fashioned, good-natured fun.

Tickets for the Friday and Saturday night performances are $10, which can be purchased at the door. The Thursday performance will offer a dinner theater experience, beginning at 6 p.m., and the curtain will open at 7 p.m. Dinner will begin with salad and bread, followed by Monterey chicken, garlic mashed potatoes and green beans for the main course, then by peach cobbler for dessert. Dinner also includes choice of red and white wine. Tickets are $28.

The story line centers around sweet Verity Vale who is heading west to live with her Aunt Belle, but gets waylaid by her aunt's evil twin sister Estelle, who is in cohorts with Villain Rupert R. Rupert. But coming to the rescue is the brave and noble hero, Noble Mann. Aunt Belle also shows up to help save the day, but as a spirit.

"In a melodrama, you have the heroine and the villain, and the hero comes in and saves the day," said Buchman, who has been involved with the theatre company for five years, and moved to Barry County from New York City in 2010.

A live pianist will play a series of nine songs throughout the production, which will feature olios, or sing-a-longs with the audience during breaks.

"The music is fantastic and our pianist is amazing," Buchman said. "She'll be playing some period music. I'll give out lyric sheets so people can sing along. It's a classic thing with melodramas -- you do poetry acts, skits or songs at intermission, and I may be doing one of those. A lot of melodramas are about movement, that's what makes it so fun."

Buchman said the cast of six is a talented group, one of which includes Hays.

"The first time I worked with them, I was blown away, because you have people from all types of backgrounds, and some have theater in their background," she said. "And, they're very enthusiastic and love community theatre."

"Hays is operatically trained. He sang the national anthem at Chicago Cub games. He has an immense amount of musical theater in his background. He's my musical director in the production."

The cast has been practicing since August under Buchman's direction, who studied miming in Paris under the famous French actor and mime Marcel Marceau.

"Theater is what I majored in and did as a career," she said. "I had a double major in English and Theater. I also did repertoire theater and worked for a children's traveling theatre company that toured throughout the midwest and South Dakota."

She also worked in a children's theatre in Omaha, Neb., one of the largest in the country.

"I'd like to get a children's theatre going locally," she said. "It's great for children -- they learn to work with others, get up in front of people. It's brilliant therapy for children."

Buchman moved to Barry County to be closer to her father, who had a long history of coming to Roaring River State Park to trout fish with his father, which eventually paved the pathway that brought her to the Ozarks.

"Theatre is what I did all my life, so I was thrilled to find this group here," she said. "It's a little more difficult in rural areas to find a theatre group."

Hays has two bachelor's degrees, in musical performance and music education.

"I had to be trained as a classical arts singer, which most interpret as operatic singer," he said. "I sang musical theater and some opera, and then I taught music for several years in Wisconsin and Illinois."

He also directed orchestras.

"I combined my interest in the arts with a master's in parks and recreations, and specialized in arts programming through a recreational setting," he said.

During his career, Hays said he was honored to sing the national anthem for several professional sporting teams in the Chicago, Ill., area including the Chicago Cubs, the White Sox and the Chicago Bulls.

"The team I'm most proud of is the Chicago Cubs," he said.

His first job after graduate school was running a community theatre in Palatine, Ill.

Given that he was heavily involved in amateur and semi-professional theatre before moving to the Ozarks, Hays said he enjoys working with the like-minded individuals in the cast.

"I really enjoy working with Elise," he said. "She's an incredibly gifted and talented director, and I like working with the people who are in the show. There's a certain arts culture that tends to gather and celebrate the creative human spirit, and it's great to be part of that."

Hays is serving as villain, vocal coach and music director in the production, but will also be featured playing guitar and singing in one of the musical numbers.

"The production is very, very funny," he said. "It encourages audience participation. When the characters walk out, there are signs that say what you should do."

The performances will be held in the ballroom of the Holiday Island Golf Course 23 miles south of Cassville off Highway 23, at 1 Country Club Drive, Holiday Island, Ark.

Proceeds from the group's bi-annual performances support the Holiday Island Association of the Arts and production costs.

To make a reservation for the Thursday evening dinner theater performance, call Buchman at 347-852-5389.

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