Sunday, July 12, 2020
Comedy ensues as an ensemble of eccentric characters spend a crazy vacation in an Arkansas fishing inn in the new comedy “Farce of Habit” showing at the Little Theatre of Owatonna.

It’s such a farce

Little Theatre to bring laughs to stage

The Little Theatre of Owatonna’s newest production has all the ingredients of a good comedy. There’s an uptight businessman, a policewoman with a bold personality, a nun, a husband and wife who run a fishing lodge, their son and daughter-in-law, and an axe murderer on the loose, all thrown together to create a southern-fried farce.

“Farce of Habit” takes place in the Reel ‘Em Inn, a fishing lodge situated on a lake in the Ozarks where the cast of characters are all looking for a little vacation, something the owners could use as well.

“My character owns an inn in Arkansas and he loves to hunt and fish, mostly fish, and he gets roped in by the wife to help run the inn,” Tim Fitzgerald, who plays D. Gene Wilburn said. “He’s not really a businessman, he’s more of an outdoorsman who has a business.”

Sandee Hardy-Hagen helming her seventh production at the Little Theatre finds a lot of fun in the story. “We have two people, D. Gene and Wanelle, they live in Arkansas and they own a cabin and business really isn’t what they want it to be,” she said. “There’s a retreat for nuns and the owners have a son and daughter-in-law and the son is acting sort of strange.”

“We also have a guest who’s hiding from someone, and a man who has been in an office for 30 years and he’s not very social,” she said of some of the other characters passing through the inn. “They find out there’s an axe murderer there and D. Gene has a sister who’s a cop and she seems to be the one that tries to calm everyone down and all these people interact with each other.”

Despite the presence of the axe murderer, the play is a romp filled with eccentric characters. “It’s fast paced compared to some other plays, and it’s fun,” Hardy-Hagen said. “Farce is making fun of different things and all the owner D. Gene wants to do is go fishing out on his boat and he never gets to, too much stuff keeps happening.”

“His wife also has a bad habit of drinking too much coffee and that’s not good for her so they’re trying to quit habits with all this other stuff going on,” she explained. “It’s not what you would want a vacation to be like. There’s a lot of laughs here.”

One of Hardy-Hagen’s favorite aspects of the play is the character of Maxie Wilburn Suggs, D. Gene’s policewoman sister. “Maxie is a police officer who’s in her 60s and is just really holding on to get her pension,” Kathy Rush Vizina who portrays the character explained.

“She does basically whatever the chief asks her to do because she wants to get to her pension,” Vizina said. “She has a big heart. She loves her family and she’ll do whatever she can to help the family.”

Vizina explained that there’s a lot of excitement in the play for the audience. “There’s a lot of little twists and turns,” she said. “It’s really funny, and when I read the script, I fell in love with it. The audience is really going to have a blast.”

Ron Hager plays the character of Huddle Fisk, an introverted office worker there on vacation. “He’s never really taken any chances and he’s looking to expand on that,” Hager said. “He realized that the only thing he’s ever done is work and realized that there should be more to life and so he comes to this place and realizes that yes there is more to life.”

“The play is about making people realize that not all habits are bad, and there’s a reason why things happen,” Hager said. “There’s something at the end that people will be surprised at. Prepare to laugh, and laugh a lot.”

There is a lot of fun to be had in putting on a comedy like this one. “Everybody wants to smile, and everybody wants to laugh,” actor Tim Fitzgerald said. “I love making people smile and making people laugh.”

Anyone looking for a good comedy to pull them out of any remaining winter doldrums should look no further than “Farce of Habit.” The play will be showing at the Little Theatre of Owatonna on April 26 and 27, and May 3 and 4 at 7:30 p.m. Sunday matinees will be performed on April 28 and May 5 at 2 p.m.

The play features actors Elisabeth Wadman, Tim Fitzgerald, Kathy Rush Vizina, Tim Abraham, Abigail Barnes, Craig Haverich, Ron Hager, Lisa Biwer, and Lisa Cochran. The technical director is Kimberly Keck and Sandee Hardy-Hagen serves as artistic director.

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