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L.A. Beat

Playgoers of Lethbridge presents laughs and misunderstandings in Send Me No Flowers

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If you want to laugh, check out  Playgoers of Lethbridge’s upcoming Dinner Theatre “Send Me No Flowers” which runs Oct. 25-29 at the Sandman Inn.
The 1960 Norman Barasch and Carroll Moore play was made into a 1964 movie starring Doris Day, Rock Hudson and  Tony Randall.George (Marty Blank) imagines himself on his deathbed and  Dr. Morrissey (Benton Neufeld) telling his wife Judy ( Nancy Bridal) what happened. Photo by Richard Amery
The  Playgoers of Lethbridge production features several new faces as well as some experienced veterans.

 “I just thought it  looked like an amusing play that seemed like a nice dinner theatre because it is a nice comedy,” said director Elaine Jagielski who couldn’t recall seeing the movie.

 “George Kimball is a hypochondriac with a vivid imagination,” Jagielski explained.
“He thinks he is going to die because he overhears the doctor talking about one of his other patients. In turn he decides to get his affairs in order and decides to find his wife another husband,” she said adding that’s when  shenanigans start to happen.

 Benton Neufeld is looking forward to being back on stage for the first time since Grade 8. He plays Dr. Morrissey, the fishing obsessed doctor George Kimball overhears, as well as Vito, the young man George imagines his wife going with after he passes on.

“ I decided to give it a shot. They are two different characters, a young boy about my age and a 50-year-old doctor, so it’s a lot more difficult,” he said, adding the biggest challenge is switching between the different mannerisms of the characters.

 Marty Blank, who often performs with Drama Nutz, makes his Playgoers of Lethbridge debut as George Kimball. He said it has been easy stepping into a lead role.

“When you have such a great supporting cast and such a great group of people, you can accomplish anything,” he said.
 He is enjoying playing George, especially with how seriously he believes he is actually dying and the trouble that ensues as he tries to prepare for the inevitable.

“He’s a bit of charming goof like me,” he said.
“But the ’50s vernacular is difficult to wrap my head around, ” he said adding he is looking forward to the opening curtain.
“It’s my first one with Playgoers  so I want to make a good first impression,” he said.
 Mark McCue is back with Playgoers for Send Me No Flowers, playing old college buddy  and California oil baron Bert, who George wants to set up his wife with after he dies.
McCue played conniving yet loveable jerk Charlie in Playgoers’ last dinner theatre ‘One For the Pot’ last October and was stage manager in  their main stage production of “the Importance of Being Earnest.”
“It is a different dynamic this time,” McCue said.
“Bert is a more traditional jerk for lack of a better word, Charlie was just greedy and motivated by that,” McCue said.
“We’re both competing for George’s wife’s attention
“He kind of  thinks he’s superiority and throwing his success under George’s nose and forcing him to smell it,” he continued, adding  he is enjoying playing alongside Josh Hammerstedt.

 Hammerstedt, who was also in “One For the Pot,” as drunken lawyer Arnold Piper, plays George’s neighbour, best friend and — drunken Marty Blank and Josh Hammerstedt rehearse Send Me No Flowers. Photo by Richard Amerylawyer Arnold Nash in ‘Send Me No Flowers.’
“I don’t want to say Arnold is a drunken idiot, but he is a well meaning, but useless person,” Hammerstedt said of his character.

“When things get complicated, he gives very poor advice and he spends most of the play drinking,” he continued.

“ I really like how poorly Arnold’s reacts to what is going on. He can’t deal with what he thinks is the monumental event that is going on in his friend’s life. He gives advice, but just makes things worse,” he said.

 He too is looking forward to opening night.

“I love that feeling right before you get on stage and  you’re flying by the seat of your pants and you’re never sure how much of it is going to go over. I love that feeling,” he said.

The cast also includes Nancy Bridal as Judy; Marcie Stork as Ms.Aitkins and passerby 2; Erin  Mitchell as  girl and Miss Mason and Richard Amery as passerby 2.

Tickets are available at the Allied Arts Office, 318 7th St. South or by calling Phone (403) 320-0555. Tickets cost $45 including dinner which begins at  6:30 cocktails, 7 p.m. dinner with the show to follow.

 A version of this story also appears in the Oct. 26 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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