Amidst a relative downer of a year, inspiration is drawn from the most comparable previous decade of woe to bring big laughs to the Ross Ragland Theater stage with “What About Dan?,” a community stage comedy-musical with performances Friday and Saturday, Sept. 11-12.
Set in the 1930s Great Depression era, the play is an obvious tongue-in-cheek tribute to the perseverance of the arts during a global pandemic when restrictions make business-as-usual performances and audiences all but impossible. The play, which opened Thursday, Sept. 10, is an original work directed by Dan Neubauer, music direction by Dan Crenshaw, choreography by Samantha Burris, and stage management by Tyler Dahl.
The show, while a work of fiction, intentionally hits close to home. The cast play near-caricatures of themselves with near-identical names, while the story is set in the town of “Kalamity Flats.” The story surrounds a struggling community theater – the “Ragsdale Theater” – facing financial ruin due to the economic crisis surrounding the Great Depression. In a last-ditch effort to save the beloved venue, a community effort is made to stop the sale of the theater to the richest person in town, who intends to turn the lot into a shopping center.
The cast include Dan Neubauer as “Dan Bauer,” Dan and Faye Crenshaw as “Dan and Faye Crestwell,” Shelley Anderson as “Shelley Boswell,” Katy Garvin as “Katherine Andrews,” Emily Pace as “Emily McGuire,” Pam Davenport as “Pam Lennon,” and Tyler Dahl simply as “Tyler.”
The show intentionally falls close to home, a reflection of current times and the people who have graced the Ragland stage for many years in a variety of productions. While rooted in the present, the show includes obvious nods to the past, honoring the all-female singing groups of the 30s and 40s such as The Andrews Sisters, The Boswell Sisters, The McGuire Sisters and the Lennon Sisters.
“What About Dan?” not only honors the Ross Ragland’s live performance history, but marks a veritable re-emergence of the historic venue in its return to stage shows. Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the Ragland has sat largely dormant save for one-off film screenings, but not quiet; as the months of forced closure marked an opportunity for a laundry list of facility upgrades by Ragland staff in preparation for the days when the curtain could rise once more.
Tickets for “What About Dan?” are $20, with senior, student and military discounts available. Due to current COVID-19 crowd restrictions no tickets are available for sale online, all tickets must be purchased in-person at the Ross Ragland Theater box office during regular business hours (Monday-Friday 12-5 p.m.) or two hours before curtain time, or by phone at 541-884-LIVE (5483).
To adhere to state mandated crowd restrictions, a limit of 100 people are permitted inside the venue. Patrons are required to wear a face covering, and are urged to socially distance and avoid the venue if showing symptoms of illness.
For more information visit www.rrtheater.org.