Old West feel alive in Perry Players’ comedic melodrama

awoolen@macon.comFebruary 27, 2013 

PERRY -- The title of the play is a mouthful.

“The Picture that was Turned to the Wall, or She May Have Seen Better Days” may not be a short, catchy phrase normally associated with theater in recent years.

But that might be because this play was written in the 1800s.

Called a melodrama by director Carol Strandburg, the old West feel is very much alive in the tale, which begins Friday.

The set, built by Tommy Saul, looks like a hotel on the American frontier with slats of wooden boards and curtains for doors.

Set in Turkey Neck, the play features jokes, singing, a villain, a hero and heroine.

Strandburg said this type of acting was the beginning of vaudeville.

“We have sight gags and a lot of corny humor,” she said.

The talent of Middle Georgia is showcased in some of the solo singing during the play. Audrey Burkes, who plays Zenobia, belts out a mournful piece while Hunter Hufnagel plays Fred, the stable boy whose boxing antics make for some hilarious moments.

When asked about her reason for choosing this play, Strandburg said reading the script “made me laugh out loud when I read it.”

Dianne Scruggs plays Mother Tubbs, a doting character who doles out comical one-liners, such as “Today babies are born so young.”

Adding to the authenticity of the era, card girls, who aren’t dealing cards, hold signs to signal the audience when to respond.

Signs include “applause” for the hero and “boo” and “hiss” for when the villain, Rudolph Von Doberman, played by Stuart Appleton, appears on stage.

Several high school students act in the play as well as Houston County High School assistant drama instructor Melanie Luschen, who plays sheriff Mattie.

A piano is set at the side of the stage, which adds to the ambience of the play. Suzanne Webb plays the piano as well as the part of Isadora Snapdragon.

“I think people will be missing out” if they don’t see the play, said Strandburg.

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