Meet Euphoria Turnbottom on historic stage |

Meet Euphoria Turnbottom on historic stage

Dave Frank
Appeal Staff Writer

Actors have to be selective when they choose a member of the audience to shame, said the star of a musical playing in Virginia City.

“Some people get too excited,” said Andrea Arena, who plays a semi-reformed prostitute in the parody “Temperance Tantrums” that starts showing today.

“You’re like, ‘You know what, I want the person next to you who’s kind of shy but has the twinkle in their eye like they want to get up there.”

The play is a parody of an early 20th-century temperance rally. The audience is encouraged to both drink alcohol and condemn it through songs, testimony and skits.

Arena said she tries to find a nuanced person to bring into this kind of play.

“They have so many dimensions to their embarrassment,” she said.

Andrea Kehmeier, who wrote the musical, said most people agree to play along with the actors, but sometimes they become “a little too eager to act.”

Usually, the actors will work any surprises into the show, and tell the person something like, “I’m sorry, sir, but you are far too inebriated to participate.”

The show follows a suspicious preacher who leads a temperance rally that attracts a repressed older woman, a young former prostitute named Euphoria Turnbottom, and a man chasing after that young woman.

“Well,” said Arena, taking on the character of Turnbottom with a Victorian accent, “when I used to drink too much, my bottom would turn up.”

Despite some of the show’s sexual innuendoes, the “biggest, funnest” table of audience members they’ve had were a a group of people in their 80s, Arena said.

David Christopher, an actor and pianist in the play, said actors try to develop improvisation to build on that sense of humor, but have to be careful to stay on time to keep the show together.

He added that everything in the play might not be appropriate for small children.

• Contact reporter Dave Frank at or 881-1212.

If you go

What: “Temperance Tantrums,” a musical parody of an early-20th century temperance rally

Where: Piper’s Opera House in Virginia City, 12 N. B St.

When: 1 and 7 p.m. today and Sept. 1; 2 p.m. Sunday and Sept. 2; and 2 p.m. Sept. 3

Tickets: $18. Call 847-0433 for information