by Mary-Ann Brandon
LA VETA- With a short introduction from Shane Clouse, the Oleo’s took the stage at the Francisco Center For the Performing Arts in La Veta on Saturday night. The plan had been to open the season’s melodrama in conjunction with the Fort Francisco celebration, but days before the planned opening night, with no “hero” on board, the play had to be postponed. It is to the credit of this small town group that they were able to pull off an evening of chuckles with just one week to write and prepare the performance.
The evening was heavy on the corn ball humor mixing one liners with short and longer skits. Some worked well, some less so, still the audience was forgiving and the players stayed honest and committed to their performances. The cast included Shane Clouse, Mark Erwin, Coral Anderson, Laurie Erwin, Eugene Heikes, Sher Clouse, Chance Christie, Kristine Jenkins, Zane Sternberg, Polly Hill, Jamie Smith, and (The Huerfano World Journal’s own) William Beverly.
The biggest laughs of the night were so goofy that it was hard to imagine that we, the audience, were not embarrassed by our own participation. For example… one skit involved a man who believed that he was a chicken, strutting the stage clucking, while his wife explained to a psychiatrist that she hadn’t reported his problem sooner because they needed the eggs.
Another skit that received a lot of laughter, treated us to a wine tasting demonstration. Some of the descriptions included “it smells like something rotting in the earth” and “it finishes with notes of feces” (all the while our demonstrator guzzled the wine and became more absurd, along with her upstaging foils, as the skit proceeded).
Groaning, moaning, hissing and booing from the audience was encouraged, all in good fun and in the spirit of the moment. Aesthetic distance was eschewed in favor of audience participation.
There was a dueling joke contest between two of the players, battling for the crown of king or queen of corn. At the end of the contest a drunken, beer swilling referee crowned the victor. The performance culminated with an explanation of “what women really mean” when they say certain words or phrases. This skit was created to celebrate the wedding anniversary of Shane and Sher Klause who are described as being “the backbone of the entire operation”.
All in all it was fun and earnest, silly and heartwarming. A small town piece of Americana that managed to transport us, for a short time, away from worry about our lives, the economy, war or any other misery. To provide us with brief respite from anxiety is what this type of performance should do and it succeeded in that goal.
If you need some wacky good fun, be sure to mark your calendar for the first two weekends in August to see the Melodrama “Here Come The Cows” (subtitled “Never Say Moo In Mesa”) by Tim Kelly.