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Jasper County Tribune

Old-time melodrama returns to Colfax with new museum fundraiser

‘Colfax Mineral Water – The Unauthorized Story’ to be staged April 14, 15

COLFAX – Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen! Thank you for joining me this evening. Tonight, we have a special tale for you. It is one you will not soon forget. And it is about a small town in Iowa called – wait for it – Colfax (audience cue: wow).

The story is packed with heroes (applause), romance (aw), mystery (oh) and of course, humor (laughter). You are definitely in for a treat. Now sit tight and enjoy the show – cue “The Entertainer” piano roll.

Next weekend, Colfax Historical Society will present the history of the town of about 2,000 in a unique and a little melodramatic way. A group of actors will bring local author Larry Daft’s fictional story “Colfax Mineral Water – The Unauthorized Story” to the stage April 14 and 15 in their old-time, melodrama production titled “Curses, Foiled Again!”

“I think we are going to have a good show,” Daft said. “We have a nice mix of seasoned veterans and new people.”

The play, originally written for Colfax’s sesquicentennial celebration in 2016, takes place in the late 1800s. The once prosperous mining town of Colfax, is slowly becoming a ghost town. The main protagonist, Hanna Goodgirl, played by Erin Hilker, is struggling to keep her boarding house open when a businessman named Arthur A. Swindler, played by Daft, comes to her rescue to invest in the old building.

Little known to Goodgirl, Swindler has an evil scheme up his sleeve. And he will do whatever it takes to get his hands on the “stinky” spring located on Goodgirl’s property.

With an array of characters from a banker named Mr. Moneypots to a coal miner named well, Coal Miner, the cast said patrons are guaranteed to have a fun evening full of little snippets of Colfax history. Completing the melodrama trope, the play will feature a pianist who will accompany the production with old-time ragtime music, audience cue cards and over-the-top performances from the actors.

“Any time (actor) Larry (Hurto) opens his mouth it is (so funny),” actor Rhonda Spain said. “He plays a great old crotchety.”

As more than half the actors were born and raised in Colfax, they said they are just happy they are bringing back the tradition of old-time melodramas back to town.

“Back in the day (early 1980s), lots and lots of theater was done at Hotel Colfax (now Teen Challenge of the Midlands) to keep the doors open. Lots of us have history with that. We do stage, costume, set and sound effects,” Peggy Dvorak, production organizer said. “Larry and his wife’s romance sprung out of the original dinner theater ... our little heroine (Hilker), her parents were really active in the first dinner theater.”

While the night will be headlined by the production, Saturday’s performance will feature a homecooked dinner, dessert and refreshments. Colfax Main Street will also cater a cash bar that evening.

“My husband makes a killer lasagna. There is going to be lasagna and chicken alfredo. My husband will be the one in the kitchen,” Dvorak said.

The proceeds of the production will benefit the Colfax Historical Society and Museum. The organizers said although this production will only be on stage for two performances, they plan to bring more dinner-accompanied entertainment to the museum.

“It is important to know where you are living. There is history in everybody’s town. This is our history,” actor Darcy Brown said. “I don’t think people realize how, at one time, Colfax was, as a destination, bigger than Des Moines. People would come around the country to bathe, drink and enjoy the mineral spring water.”

In addition to the show, a J.H. Luther beanpot will be raffled off to benefit the museum.

Tickets can be purchased at Professional Hair Designers, Benzer Pharmacy and the Colfax Main Street office until Wednesday, April 11. The show at 6 p.m. April 14, which includes dinner, will be $20. The matinee show at 2 p.m. April 15 costs $10.

For more information about the show, call 515-674-4406 or find Colfax Historical Society & Museum on Facebook.

Contact Anthony Victor Reyes at areyes@jaspercountytribune.com

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