Opening this weekend up in Ames is Messiah on the Frigidaire, a dramatic comedy about a small southern town thrown into chaos. When what seems to be the image of Jesus appears on a refrigerator in a trailer park, reactions from exultation to exploitation occur among the locals. Some are changed by the experience, and some simply show their true colors more openly. But that's the way will many significant experiences. It's often in how the experience is perceived, both within and without.
This is the 61st season for ACTORS in Ames, one of the longer-running community theatres in Iowa. Last year, for their 60th anniversary season, the group presented many of the best shows from their history. Now, moving forward, all of the plays in their season have been written and presented in the new millennium, and change is in the air.
Some of this can be seen in the choice of performers for the show. All but two are new to ACTORS, and one of those two is in only his second show with the group, and his second show out of high school. Alex Colby, a graduate of Hoover High here in Des Moines, is playing Larry Williamson in Messiah. Experiences are changing him, and he welcomes the challenge.
"The environment was a little terrifying at first because of it being somewhere I wasn't used to, but like any other person in theatre we tend to mold to our surroundings, we make new friends, and create new experiences that the audience gets to see. Our age didn't matter, because we all auditioned for the same reason, our love for theatre."
ACTORS itself has been changing and growing through the years, and putting out a season with no real "classic" show has been a new experience as well. And although the schedule is scattered with relatively new shows (so far the season has consisted of the musical [title of show] and David Mamet's November), the past is represented in and around the building ACTORS has called its home for decades.
Alex continues, "Every single time I walk into ACTORS I am greeted with all the past shows, and the history of the theatre all over the walls. Whether you're in the hall by the entrance or in the kitchen, there is some sort of awesome memorabilia that lets you know about ACTORS shows. One picture in the kitchen is of the classic show Anything Goes (one of the first shows ever produced by the group)."
The Same, But New
Messiah on the Frigidaire is probably the closest show to a "classic" that ACTORS is presenting this year (at least in style), and yet, it would be a mistake to just take this show as merely a "southern comedy." While it has plenty of laughs along the way, the show is not afraid to show some serious dramatic turns as well.
"Messiah is a show that shows us what it's like to be a part of one of those crazy unbelievable articles that you see at your supermarket. From working on the show, I have noticed how believable it could happen in real life. The show's changes in tone proves it deserves the title of a dramatic comedy as well. Expect to get invested with the characters as they develop through the show."
Everything changes. How you react to it depends on your point of view. Whether it confirms what you believe, or opens your eyes to different possibilities, one thing is for sure. Just opening up yourself to the opportunity means you become something new.
ACTORS presents Messiah on the Frigidaire for the next two weekends opening this Friday at the ACTORS Studio in Ames. Check the ACTORS website for details and tickets.