The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Heidi Zemach
For The LOG 

Absurd, remarkable production plays in town

 

Doug Capra

Alligator Man, played by Allen King, stands by as Sandy the reporter, Joe Hewitt , discuss the improbable angel shooting with duck hunters Duane and Duwell, played by Robert Mackey and Hank West, and Lenny the tabloid photographer, played by Isaac London.

When I walked into Seward High School auditorium for Friday night’s premier of “Duck Hunter Shoots Angel,” I saw a strange sight that stirred up memories of taking the subway to school in the olden days. Everyone had a tabloid and was buried in it. I had been handed one, too, along with the price of the ticket, and eagerly awaited the guilty pleasure of taking my time reading it. The play is a Port City Players Production written by Mitch Albom, sponsored by the Seward Arts Council and directed by Doug Capra.

The at-times sentimental comedy takes place mostly in the Alabama swamp. It’s filled with fast puns and amusing visual effects throughout. Told through a bank loan officer’s revealing interview with Sandy, a tabloid reporter, the production pokes fun at tabloids, at stereotypical southern rednecks, at northern elites who look down on them, and perhaps most of all at religion and superstitions. But it’s also about the pitfalls of stereotyping one another, of holding tight to old views and beliefs that may no longer apply, and the missed opportunities we make as we bumble our way through life, making one mistake after the other.

At the start of the opening scene, all the actors simply walk, or dance around the stage putting the weird props in place, greeting one another, and stretching to the tune, “Angels Among Us.” The props include a three-headed baby doll, tree stump, a fake car front and an alligator head. The play’s opening and the way it closes is to make evident that the play is only someone’s production, not reality, and is to be taken with a grain of salt just we need to take The Weekly World and Globe newspaper.

Playwright Mitch Albom, well known for “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” and “Tuesdays with Morrie,” wrote it following a varied journalism career as a reporter for the Queens Tribune, Sports Illustrated, GEO and The Philadelphia Inquirer, so some of his puns critiquing the sorry state of journalism today may come from his own experiences.

“This was a very challenging play, and I was lucky to have a very strong cast,” said Capra. Most of the actors and actresses have had extensive experience, some professionally, he added. An exception was Joseph Hewitt who the plays main character, Sandy, and also the narrator. Hewitt is a single father and West Point graduate who owns a local home computer repair business. This is his only full-fledged theater role aside from a Seward Art Council’s Reader’s Theater and Murder Mystery Dinner. Hewitt has a powerful and confident stage presence, and he did a great job of acting, memorizing lines and clearly articulating them. Other performers you may recognize, such as Linnea Hollingsworth, as Sandy’s girlfriend. Kelly Smith, who plays the store clerk Kansas, and was hired by ASLC last May, and Issac London, the photographer, are fairly new to the area, but bring years of collective theater experience to the local production.

Doug Capra

Sandy, ace reporter for The Weekly World and Globe, played by Joe Hewitt, talks with Kansas, the Gas Mart girl, played by Kelly Smith.

The 60 people that attended the play’s premier were most appreciative and Capra hopes that word will get out so that more people continue to attend throughout the lengthy three-weekend production. Also, the idea was to market the play in conjunction with Hotel Seward tickets and restaurant meal vouchers to encourage more winter season tourism in Seward during the shoulder season, said Capra. If visitors and local residents can fill the theater, like we do for all the high school productions, they’ll have a fighting chance of at least trying to fill the 300-seat high school auditorium, which was the only place available with the needed lighting and sound-system.

Even though the play is self-rated PG by the Port City Players, only a few choice swear words are used, and not very often, so I wouldn’t worry about bringing older children along. There’s no sex either and the only gun violence is off stage when the hunter shoots an angel. The play is scheduled for 10 shows with the final presentation on March 2.

 

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