Volume 12 Week 5

Friday, Feb. 23


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(Updated 1 p.m., Feb. 27)
OOPS does it again with clever, original production

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

OOPS newcomer Francine Hopley plays Desireé Fabergé in the amateur theatre company's production of 'Showdown at the OOPS Corral'. Fred Sherwin/Photo

The Orléans Older Players return to the stage this Saturday with their latest production – “Showdown at the OOPS Corral”.

OOPS is a collection of amateur theatre enthusiasts who meet every Monday evening to share their love of the performing arts under the instruction and direction of Susan Flemming.

The four-month long course is conducted over two sessions (Sept.-Feb. and March -June) with each session culminating in a live performance.

Each group decides on a theme at the beginning of the course and then work in collaboration in developing the plot and script.

“Showdown at the OOPS Corral” features a lot of familiar faces, including Tina Chan whose appeared in every OOPS production since the course was first introduced in 2008 to give parents of Orléans Young Players Theatre School students a chance to act on stage. In “Showdown”, Chan plays a saloon owner with a mysterious past.

The play is set in saloon/gambling house/hat shoppe in a frontier town called Disappointment, Pop. 7.

The Back Bacon Saloon, Gambling Emporium and Hat Shoppe is owned by a Klementyna Smirnofia, a Russian woman with a large diamond pendant, and frequented by characters with equally mysterious pasts. As it turns out, they are all wanted for committing a variety of crimes from stealing a ham sandwich to causing the death of P.T. Barnum’s star attraction, Dumbo the elephant.

Besides a criminal past they also share a desire to possess Klementyna’s diamond pendant, which culminates in a rather noisy final scene. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The play opens with the characters lying in various forms of prostration under a sign identifying the set of the previously mentioned establishment. Out of the shadows emerges one Nellie Stringer, a newspaper reporter played by Sarah Benfield, who gives a brief history of the town and the saloon before announcing the first act.

Much of the rest of the play is spent on character development as the audience is cleverly introduced to the various players one by one using a large “Wanted” frame and a glaring spot light.

There is Klementyna, of course, who jumps off a train as it’s passing by the town to escape charges for allegedly stealing a ham sandwich. When she jumps, she lands in creek where she rather gratuitously finds a large diamond.

Bess Farmer, who is played by Sophia Sudnikowicz, is the resident cook who went on the lame after dumping a chicken pot pie on a food critic.

Ruby and Emerald Nickels, played by OOPS veterans Céline Nadeau and Sue Ashton, are a sister act who are wanted for allegedly stealing a horse; and Pentimento Dorrito, played by another OOPS veteran, André Lacasse, is the bartender who is on the run after smashing bunch of alarm clocks that put the professional waker-upper out of business.

Then there’s Desireé Fabergé, played admirably by the lone OOPS rookie in the cast, Francine Hopley. Fabergé is a hat-maker who’s wanted for assaulting a fellow milliner for making knock-offs of her original creations.

The rest of the cast is rounded out by Karen Bolt, who plays Cora Brewster, a cattle rancher wanted for branding other people’s cattle; Sebastien Melbourne who plays Jake “The Snake” Slocum, wanted for causing the death of Dumbo when he led the pachyderm across a railway track; and Trish Golden who plays Molly Bates, a bounty hunter hot on the trail of the fugitives at large.

“Showdown at the OOPS Corral” can be seen on Friday, Feb. 23at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in the Richcraft Theatre at the Shenkman Arts Centre. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and children under 12.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)


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