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Funky characters come to dinner

by Karel Ancona-Henry
For the Nevada Appeal
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal
NEVADA APPEAL | NEVADA APPEAL

The Proscenium Players present “Murder at the Tony Lou Awards,” a dinner theater, murder mystery, opening Jan. 15 at Gold Dust West in Carson City. Performances will also be given Jan. 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30.

Proceeds from the performances will be used to establish a permanent home for the Proscenium Players, Nevada’s second-oldest, continually running community theater troup. It was established in 1965 with the help of Maizie Harris Jesse, a Nevada Appeal columnist who’s well-known in the community.

Craig Swope, former owner of KPTL, will serve as the master of ceremonies in an evening that will include such characters as Funky Rooster, Lorna Luch, Angelina Canoli, a guest appearance by Liza Minestrone and “a few other odd characters running around,” according to director Eloise Koenig.

Musical interludes will be performed throughout the evening by Bob Reed, who under his pen name Bobby McGee, wrote the lyrics for “I Say Nevada,” performed last year.

“We are having so much fun with this,” Koenig said, adding the script was written by Tony Schwartz and Marylou Ambrose of the Lakeside Players of Tafton, Pa., with specific instructions that theater groups should feel free to make whatever changes they wanted. “Being able to make it our own is so refreshing in that we can adapt characters to fit locally and having a scripted murder-mystery prevents the show from falling apart.”

“This is a very interactive show, a parody of every award show with every cliche character imaginable,” Koenig said. “During the awards show, the audience will get to hear why everyone hates everyone else, how awful these characters really are, and the culprit will be different for each performance.”

This ever-changing suspect angle makes the performances more fun for the audience, while preventing the beans from being spilled one performance to the next. Theater-goers are invited to dress up if they want.

“This is a just a fabulous show and I so enjoy working with Elosie,” said Joni Moon, producer. “We’ve done several shows and work very well together.”

The evening begins with cocktails at 6 p.m., buffet dinner at 6:45 p.m. and includes dessert.

“We expect the audience to have fun, because the cast is having fun,” Koenig said. “As the director, I have been delighted to watch each person make each character their own and the growth that has happened.

“I was thrilled to see new people come out for auditions and I think sometimes we see many of the same cast members because they enjoy working with the director and the mutual respect that develops in those relationships.”

Koenig, who has been involved in theater her entire life, has done so in part because she loves the spotlight, but also likes the opportunity to live the character’s reality, which unlike real life, is controllable.

“When playing a part, you go to rehearsal leaving behind your own cares,” Koenig said. “For a time, you get to play a part where you know what the ending is, and you get to dress up.”

As for this production, Koenig said she couldn’t be more pleased.

“It’s been a lot of hard work for everyone involved, but I love it and enjoy every minute.”

The performances are being “informally dedicated” to Roger Maillard, Koenig’s longtime love and greatest supporter, who recently died. He had for many years, run the lights and built sets for the Proscenium Players.

“I know he will be there in spirit,” Koenig said.

Tickets for “Murder at the Tony Lou Awards,” cost $35 for general admission and $32 for seniors, students and Gold Dust West members. Early reservations are requested as a headcount is needed for dinner. Contact Joni Moon at 883-9386 or Eloise Koenig at 883-6442.

Gold Dust West is offering overnight packages for those wanting a “staycation.” The package includes one night stay with suite upgrades if available, tickets to the show and breakfast for two for $107. To book a package, contact Gold Dust West at 885-8000.