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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 20, 2018

Summer Theatre presenting ‘How Funny Are People’ this Friday

Shows run through Labor Day weekend
Jul 19, 2018
Photo by: Grace King “How Funny Are People” will be playing at the Midwest Old Thresher’s Summer Theatre on July 20-22, 27 and 28; Aug. 30 and 31 and Sept. 1 and 2. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or Jerry’s Restaurant.

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


Theatregoers can step back in time to the days of tent shows at Midwest Old Thresher’s Summer Theatre this weekend, debuting the first of nine showings of “How Funny Are People” on Friday, July 20 at 7:30 p.m.

The family-friendly Toby and Susie show takes place in the Harrington family’s dining room and living room in their farmhouse as they navigate the twists and turns of life in the 1940s. The Toby and Susie shows are named after recurring characters — Tobias T. Tolliver, played by Brian Iles, of Mt. Pleasant, and Susie Harrington, played by Savannah Bennett, of New London.

“Toby is a main character in every show,” director of the show Peggy Crew said. “He always gets into trouble. There’s a lot of twists and turns in all the plays … To bring the characters alive again is just outstanding.”

Crew has been directing Toby and Susie shows for the past nine years and has performed in seven shows herself. It a way for Crew to give back to her community. And every time a show puts a smile on an audience member’s face it gives her a “warm, fuzzy feeling.”

In “How Funny Are People” Mrs. Harrington and her children are trying to run a farm following the death of her husband. Although Mrs. Harrington’s children are a little lazy, Jacque Lake, of Salem, who plays the part of Mrs. Harrington said she has mom goggles on.

“Her kids are just (perfect) even when they’re not,” Lake said with a laugh.

Although Lake said she doesn’t have “mom goggles” with her children, she identifies with Mrs. Harrington strongly, saying she could be a part of her. To Lake, Mrs. Harrington is “quite a lady,” trying to run a farm by herself with her three unhelpful adult children and Toby.

Dave Forrester, a pastor in Trenton, is playing the part of John “Bud” Wolsey, a character he didn’t want to say too much about because of all the changes he undergoes throughout the play.

Forrester has a lot of fun playing Wolsey, who works his way into the lives of the Harrington family and in the end, greatly influences each one of them.

“What is neat about this play is a great percentage of the characters aren’t who they appear to be,” Forrester said. “I think the only honest person in the family is Toby.”

Josh Morey, of Mt. Pleasant, playing the part of Milton Hyatt, also didn’t want to say too much about his character before the show. “I’m kind of hiding who I really am,” Morey said about his character. “It’s been fun to interpret.”

This is Morey’s sixth year in a Toby and Susie show, and throughout that time the cast has grown as close as a family themselves. Of all the casts Morey has been a part of, he said this is the one that has given him a place to fit in the community.

Nancy Amos, of Mt. Pleasant, playing the part of Mrs. Clark, too feels as close to the cast as family even though this is her first year acting in a Toby and Susie show.

Amos’ character is a no-nonsense woman who jumps to conclusions without all the facts.

“I like her, not that I jump to conclusions, but (Mrs. Clark) comes back and apologizes later with egg on her face,” Amos said.

Toby and Susie shows like “How Funny Are People” embrace the atmosphere of an old-time tent show, with actors projecting from the stage instead of using microphones, the same candy pitch between the second and third act, and taffy sold in little boxes.

“You can just look at the walls and see the history,” Lake said. “You don’t have tent shows anymore. It’s just really a lot of fun. Very nostalgic, I think.”

Other characters are Claude Harrington, played by Scott Jennings, of Winfield; and Pearl Harrington, played by Ashley Hobbs, of Mt. Pleasant.

The show is Friday, July 20 and Saturday, July 21 at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, July 22 at 2:30 p.m.; Friday, July 27 and Saturday, July 28 at 7:30 p.m. The show will run again during the Old Threshers Reunion Aug. 30 and 31 and Sept. 1 and 2 at 5:30 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased at the Old Thresher’s Museum or at Jerry’s Restaurant in Mt. Pleasant. The Summer Theatre is handicap accessible.


*Jacque Lake's name was incorrectly spelled in the original story. The News apologizes for the error.

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