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(Posted 6:30 a.m., June 15)
Latest OOPS production is a great, great, great, great play
By Fred Sherwin
Orleans Online

Watching an Orleans Old Players production is like watching amateur theatre in its truest form. Most of the cast members previous theatre experience is either limited to watching their son or daughter perform on stage, or having performed themselves in a school play many, many moons ago.

The Spring Orleans Old Players class benefited from the presence of a couple of OOPS veterans in Tina Chan and Randy Bellini who have participated .in a number of OOPS productions.

OOPS teacher/director Susan Flemming went old school for the class' latest project, drawing her inspiration from the 1963 cinematic production of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" in which an eclectic mix of protaganists attempt to track down a hidden stash of stolen cash.

In "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad OOPS", the characters are even more "eclectic", if I may use the term loosely, but they meet the same fate with a slightly different twist at the end.

The play opens with twin sisters Othelia and Ophelia Smirch posing for mug shots at the local constabulary. The pair are played perfectly by Sue Ashton, who has a dry wit and is funny without even trying, and Celine Nadeau, who is the perfect straight woman for Ashton's humour.

During the early part of the play we are introduced to the characters who are all enroute to parts unknown. There is a French truck driver named Roméo Vendredi, played by Vincent McDermott; Zelda and Eugene Pitts, played by Tina Chan and André Lacasse; and Ray and Clementine Valentino played by Randy Bellini and Annmarie Neilson, who are travelling with Clementine's mother Winifred, played by Biz MacDonald.

The final member of the cast is Monique Ricketts who plays Wanda Bell and provides most of the lyrical accompaniment.

They are all wanderers in search of a bigger piece of the pie. Eugene Pitts is in the sewer industry, which the audience is made amply aware of during Chan's wonderfully hilarious performance of Art Carney's "Song of the Sewer"

The motely cast of characters are all parked near a rest stop when they hear a horrible crash. When they run to the scene they see a man apparently deceased clutching a hub cap. As it turns out the victim is none other than the notorious bank robber "Four Fingers", played by Freddy Cyr-Michaud.

As "Four Fingers" is lying on the ground, Chan launches into an evangelic rant, which hs the effect of raising "Four Fingers" from the dead, or at least reviving him long enough to tell the group to "look for the money under the large O".

Once they are certain that "Four Fingers" is dead, they search for the mysterious "O" which miraculously descends from the heavens sending them scattering to find whatever implements they can to help them in the search. But before they can find the cash they are all scooped up by the authorities leaving Wanda Bell to snatch the loot herself.

This is the fourth or fifth OOPS production that I have seen and its abundantly obvious that those lucky enough to be part fo the cast thoroughly enjoy the experience, and who wouldn't. It's not every day that you get to have total unadulterated fun with a group of people who are as eager to cast off their acting inabitions as you are.

Registration is already underway for the next OOPS class which begins in September. For more information on the program visit http://www.oypts.ca/classes-camps/class-descriptions/oops/.

Zelda Pitts, played by Tina Chan, covers the mouth of her on-stage husband Eugene Pitts, played by André Lacasse, in a scene from the OOPS production of 'It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad OOPS'. Photo supplied by OYPTS


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