Maybe it’s the small-town general store that will seem familiar to a Wellesley audience. Or maybe it’s the collection of crazy characters that gather there. Whichever you identify with, there’ll be plenty of laughs in The Hitchin’ Post.
The play, written by Pat Cook, is the latest offering from Theatre Wellesley, with performances set for Nov. 17-19.
The story and all the action centers on Hurley Squonk’s “Hitchin’ Post” general store in Flat Rock, Texas. Run by Hurley himself, who is always behind the counter, this sort of ‘everything store’ not only carries a wide variety of items but also attracts some mighty strange folks. And it’s those odd characters who make the story a hoot, as there’s a whole lot more eccentric behaviour than shopping going on there, notes Rhonda Caldwell, who plays one of those odd ducks.
“There isn’t really that much shopping going on,” laughs Caldwell, who plays Mrs. Bastrop, a feisty woman more intent on finding bargains than actually purchasing anything. “The story is about all of the crazy characters that pop into the store.”
There’s Pinch Burdett, who spends all his time hawking his wife’s jams and making up stories; Mrs. Bastrop, whose past includes getting thrown out of the town’s softball tournament; and Gloria (everybody calls her “Glow Worm”) Pinkham, a romantic teen who camps out at Hurley’s magazine stand.
The normal, laid-back pace at the general store changes when a young couple from out of town enters: Lyge Daugerfield, something of a mamma’s boy, and his fiancée Purdy MacKendrick, have picked today to elope and are in a bit of a hurry. Hot on their heels is his overbearing mother and her meek secretary, who’ve enlisted bumbling Sheriff Bumgarden in an attempt to stop the wedding. Things get crazier still when two siblings, Pearl and Earl, burst in to hold up the store … only they’re not really equipped for the job.
It’s all played for maximum laughs, which is typically the goal of Theatre Wellesley’s annual production.
“People want something light and entertaining,” said Caldwell. “If they’re going out for a night, they want a laugh. They want comedy.”
The Hitchin’ Post fit the bill.
“We liked it because we thought it would appeal to this community because of the small general store.”
The group, which has been staging one major performance every November since 1997, is no stranger to Cook’s work, having last year produced Altar Ego.
Comedies as work well with the local actors involved in community theatre, as the pace keeps it fun. One of two who’ve been there from the start, Caldwell knows the importance of keeping the participants engaged.
“We really are open to new people. We’re open to people learning on and off the stage, to do new things.”
This year’s production, with a cast of 11 and roles for all age groups, fit right in with that philosophy, she explained. Along with some regulars, the theatre company is joined by three newcomers this time out.
The Theatre Wellesley production of The Hitchin’ Post runs Nov. 17-19, 8 p.m. nightly with a 2 p.m. matinee Saturday, at the Wellesley Community Centre. Tickets are $15 ($10 for the matinee), available at Pym’s Village Market or by calling 519-897-1737. More information can be found online at www.theatrewellesley.ca.