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A well-done Tuna

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By Ken Begley

If you’re looking for entertainment that’s different and will brighten up your day, then come on down to the Opera House in Springfield to see “A Tuna Christmas."

 

 It’s showing at 7 p.m. on Nov. 20 and 21, then again on Nov. 22 at 2 p.m.  

 

Local actors Scott Fattizzi and Jerry Effner will take you on the comedic ride of your life when you visit their version of this classic farce.  You’ll spend the holidays with all your old favorite citizens of Tuna, Texas, and make some new friends while you’re there.  Scott and Jerry, along with some split-second costume changes, portray all 24 citizens of Texas’ third smallest town.  This is a place where the Lion’s Club is too liberal and Patsy Cline never dies.

 

 In this version, it’s 24 hours before Christmas and all comic cane is about to break out as the delightfully eccentric characters come to life. They have to deal with such season traumas as a disaster-prone little theatre production of “A Christmas Carol” and a yard-decorating contest that is being sabotaged by a mysterious Christmas phantom.  

 

 You’ll love it!

 

I was down at the Opera House watching rehearsals by The Central Kentucky Youth Actors as they prepare for their upcoming performance of Beauty and the Beast coming later.

 

You know what?

 

If you’re ever feeling the blues and need something to bring you up, then you ought to pop in and watch one of the rehearsals.  

 

I think they have about 30 grade and high school students.  You know, I’ve watched a lot of programs for our youth.  Yet it never ceases to amaze me how successful this one is.  The kids, despite the age differences, seem like such good friends.  They all seem to have a ball and enjoy “stepping into character” so much.  It’s like they’re on a trip to another world for a few hours.  

 

Jan and Scott Fattizzi are veteran actors in regional theater productions and have been riding herd over this program for some five or six years.  It’s amazing what they can accomplish with the raw talent of these youth.

 

I talked to five students now in the program.  They are Jordan Barlow, Catharine Ball, Wesley Campbell, Emily Cecconi  and Aaron Robinson.

 

Jordan and Aaron are 7th and 6th graders respectively.  Jordan just got into theater recently and has been in two plays.  Aaron is an old pro with about seven plays under his belt.   

 

Jordan told me he got into theater because his St. Dominic School teacher, JoAnn Ellery, recommended he do it.  Aaron knew other people in the program and wanted to give it a try.  

 

I asked them what was the hardest part about doing a play.  They both agreed this would be remembering lines and dance routines.

 

To be honest, all this practicing I saw them doing looked like a lot of work.  So I asked them if they ever hated having to come to practice.  Did it ever seem like school?

 

Surprisingly for me, they both said no.  They really looked forward to coming down to the Opera House for practice, and when they took it onto the stage.

 

Finally I wondered what type of person would like to do theater.  Jordan said it was someone that didn’t really care that much for sports.  Aaron said it was people who aren’t afraid to embarrass themselves and could make whatever part they got their own.  

 

Emily Cecconi is a junior at WCHS.  She’s been in this theater group for about two years and has done four plays.  Her favorite role has been “Frenchy” in Grease, which recently went to Disney World.  

 

Emily thought a shy person might really enjoy getting into this type of program because it helps to give you confidence to get up in front of a crowd while singing, dancing and acting.  

 

Emily said she most enjoyed socializing with so many other people, and it was fun being a character that’s so much different than herself.

 

Wesley Campbell is a freshman at WCHS.  

 

He’s been in six plays and will have one of the lead roles in Beauty and the Beast. His sister has been in plays for years, and that’s why he got into it.  His favorite memory has been when his mother Erika was drafted for a part in Bye Bye Birdie.  By the way, Erika Campbell is the only other person in Springfield that has a more off the wall sense of humor than myself.  

 

Wesley’s favorite play was Guys and Dolls.  He said he just enjoyed the friends and great times he has had doing these plays.

 

Then came my personal favorite actor, which is Catharine Ball.  She’s a sophomore at Bethlehem High School in Bardstown.  Her favorite play and mine was Nunsense. Catharine played a slightly crazy Catholic nun named Sister Amnesia in that play.  I still laugh at her uncanny comedic timing and ability to improvise when necessary.

 

Catharine’s been in 12 plays and has loved singing ever since she was little.  She said she’s had dance lessons, but that has been the hardest part of theater.  

 

Finally, I asked Catharine who would like to do the things she is doing.  She said, “Anyone who loves people, and that’s what theater is all about.”

 

There was one interesting side note when I was talking with Catharine that sort of took me back to my own youth.  

 

I really do like plays.  St. Catharine College put on the first play I ever saw, and it was about 40 years ago.  It was The Music Man, and used not only college students, but also many, many local citizens, as well.  There must have been 40 or 50 people in the show.  I loved that play, and it turned out that Catharine’s father played the main child part.

 

St. Catharine College had a Sister at that time, I can’t remember her name, who was big in theater, and she directed the show along with many others over the years.  She was good.

 

How good?

 

I worked at St. Catharine College about 20 years later between 1991 to 94 as the student financial aid director.  The late Frank Sallee was the admissions director.  One day Frank took me on a tour of parts of the old convent.  It included a stage and theater room that didn’t look like it had been in use for years.  He opened a door on a side room and it was filled with faded scripts and plays from decades gone by.

 

Frank looked at me and said “You know that Sister that taught drama has been dead for years, and I still get calls from other schools that don’t know this, wanting to send students down to study under her.”

 

That is good!

 

It’s too bad that St. Catharine College and The Central Kentucky Community Theater at the Opera House can’t get together and put on one of those old time big play productions like the good Sister used to do with students and people from all over the county.  

 

I bet a play like that would fill up a good-sized gym.  It did three times 40 years ago.