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(Posted 1:30 p.m., June 25)

OOPS production an homage to the golden age of television
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

A tied and bound Randy Bellini is force fed Twinkies by Susan Flemming during a scene in the OOPS production of “My Mother the... OOPS” at the Shenkman Arts Centre on Saturday. Fred Sherwin/Photo

The Orleans Older Players play homage to the golden age of television in their latest production “My Mother the... OOPS” based on the 60’s sitcom “My Mother the Car”.

Widely regarded as one of the worst television shows of all time, “My Mother the Car” was cancelled after it’s first season which ran from September 14, 1965 and April 5, 1966.

Fans of the show blamed the newly empowered television critics for its demise, which is the premise for the OOPS production, co-written by teacher, director and cast member Susan Flemming in collaboration with the class members, all of whom are OOPS veterans.

The two central figures in the play are Mary Beth Wiggins, played by Céline Nadeau, and Anton Etchevary, played by Randy Bellini.

Wiggins is a super fan of the show and founder of the My Mother the Car Fan Club in the fictitious town of Turtle Creek. Etchevary is a television critic, who Wiggins blames for the show’s untimely cancellation.

Membership in the Fan Club amounts to a grand total of four people and a stuffed cat – Wiggins; her mother Audrey Palliser, played by Sue Ashton; the maintenance worker of the building the club’s meetings are held in, Bobby Fletcher, played by Sarah Benfield; Howie Ledbetter, played by Andre Lacasse, who happened to read a flyer about the meeting Wiggins had circulated in town; and Effie Sprague, an eccentric lady and alien conspiracy theorist, played by Flemming, who walks around talking to her stuffed cat Felix.

Although Wiggin’s mother reluctantly joins the club, she becomes a die hard fan when her daughter tells her that the car in My Mother the Car reminds her of her because it’s always giving the lead character good advice in times of crisis.

When the club learns that Etchevary is being sent to write a story about them, they cook up a plan to force him to write a new script that will keep the show on the air.

After tying him up and torturing him with Twinkies and Tang, he agrees to write a script based on their story line. (Kudos to Bellini for delivering his lines through a mouth full of Twinkies.)

Once the script is done, the club prepares to do a reading at their next meeting with Etchevary sitting in as the male lead. As they begin, the club members quickly realize that he’s strayed from the story line he was given. Instead of the car getting a makeover, it’s diagnosed with a cracked crankshaft, a blown gasket and a corroded exhaust system. In other words, it’s terminal.

In her reaction, Wiggins has what can best be described as a mental breakdown as the house lights fade to black.

In the final scene, the club members gather for another night in front of the television, only this time with Etchevary as their special guest sporting a broken arm and leg.

As they they take their seats, the opening strains of the Star Trek theme song begin to rise and the house lights fade a final time.
The cast was awesome as always. I especially liked Lacasse as Howie Ledbetter. With his self effacing laugh, he reminded me of Harold on the Red Green Show.

Nadeau was fun as Mary Beth Wiggins, especially during her meltdown, and Flemming was brilliant as the eccentric Effie Sprague. Benfield and Bellini were also on the top of their game.

The Monday night OOPS class will start up again in the fall. If you secretly desire to be an actor and feel ready to come out of the closet, then I would highly recommend joning the class if for no other reason than to get to work with Flemming. You can learn more at www.oypts.com.

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



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