The best and brightest community theatre actors and actresses in Iowa have converged upon Newton this weekend for the Iowa Community Theatre Festival.
Their goal: to represent Iowa at the regional level in Fargo, N.D. — and, perhaps, a trip to the national competition in Carmel, Ind. But first things first: the competition of community theatre groups from across the Hawkeye State, which begins today at 1:30 p.m. at the Newton Community Theatre.
First up is the Sioux City Community Theatre, which will present “Almost, Maine.” The series of nine one-acts that focuses on issues of love and loss in the mythical community of Almost, Maine.
Immediately following that production will be Marshalltown Community Theatre’s production of “Unconditional Surrender: An Evening with President Grant.” The one-man show was written by the show’s only actor, veteran thespian Pete Grady, who portrays Ulysses S. Grant in the final days of his life as he’s writing his memoirs.
A highlight for many locals will be the 6:30 p.m. performance of “Lone Star” by the Newton Community Theatre. The one-act comedy takes place in the cluttered backyard of a small-town Texas bar, where one man is regaling his younger brother with tales of his military exploits and amorous conquests when they are joined by the newlywed son of the local hardware store owner.
Roy, the local high school hero, loves three things above all else: his country, his beautiful young wife, and his 1959 pink Thunderbird. Over a case of beer, he is talking about these loves with his younger brother, Ray — who worships the ground he walks on — when Cletis arrives with news that will turn Roy’s world upside down.
Saturday performances begin at 1:30 p.m. when the Iowa River Players of Rowan in north-central Iowa presents “Of Mice and Men.” The Wilson Performing Arts Center of Red Oak follows that up with “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged).”
Tickets for each performance may be purchased at the door for $10. No late seating will be permitted. Winners will be announced Saturday evening during the annual Iowa Community Theatre Gala, which will be held at the American Legion Newton Post 111.