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Community theater to stage comedy

Play written by Pat Phair

Waupaca Community Theatre will present the original play “Critics’ Choice” as dinner-theater Monday through Wednesday, April 25-27, at the Par 4 Resort.

Cocktails will be served at 5:30 p.m., dinner at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m.

Written by local playwright Pat Phair, “Critics’ Choice” is a murder-mystery farce as well as a brush with the time-space continuum.

While 21st-century newspaper theater critics are watching a play set in the mid-20th century, they come under suspicion for the crime. Instead of remaining the innocent bystanders that they are, they get caught in the search for the murder suspect.

Phair was inspired by a play at the Edmonton Fringe Festival. He liked the clever technique used by the writer to see non-actors becoming part of the live play.

Also at the Fringe, he found an example of perfect dramatic irony during a murder mystery in which the corpse was under the dining room table, unseen by the actors, with only the audience in the know.

“Inspiration for me starts with a good story, and then I try to make it work on the stage for audience enjoyment,” Phair said. “‘Critics’ Choice’ is a comedy intended to leave the audience laughing. It’s a departure from my earlier dramatic works which centered on social themes and historic events.”

Phair found that the play was fun to write.

“I laughed out loud at times while writing it,” he said.

He thinks it will be more fun to watch as it comes alive with talented actors.

Phair has heartfelt thanks for the “director, actors and the resources of WCT,” and finds it rewarding that they took a chance on “Critics’ Choice.”

The comedy features actors both familiar to Waupaca Community Theatre audiences as well as some new to the group.

Monica Reeves and Amy Holterman, drama teachers and directors for the Waupaca School District, will both appear in “Critics’ Choice” giving their current and former students a chance to see them in acting roles. Reeves has directed more than 50 plays in her career.

Dennis Sutliff, another director taking on an acting part, is founder of Sweet Lips Theater where he performed as an actor for 35 years.

Carmen Riebel is a veteran of WCT and the 4th director in the cast.

Additional cast members include Daniel O’Brien, Lori Bauer, Dave Larson, Neil Nusz, Brad Leonhardt, Tyler Higginson, Kay Ellingson, Deb Ostrander, Andrea Aurigue and Tyler Smidt.

This will be Barbara Laedtke’s fourth directing effort for the Waupaca Community Theatre. She studied theater in London in 2016 while pursuing degree work at UW-Stevens Point.

After attending a William Butler Yeats play presented at Dolly’s Cottage in Sligo, Ireland, Laedtke felt undaunted and decided that she would like to direct a play.

She directed “Luna Gale” in 2018 at the Historical Train Depot in Waupaca and “Frankenstein: The Radio Play: at the Gerold Opera House in 2020 with a post-Covid encore in 2021.

The Par 4 Resort will serve a lasagne buffet with both vegetarian and meat options along with salad and garlic bread.

All seating will be reserved with tickets available online for $35 at http://our.show/cc.

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