When you're a man living in upstate Michigan, whose last name is Soady, and you still haven't killed a deer — you're destined to be labeled a jinx in the court of public opinion.
Reuben Soady (Bo White, of Townsend) is desperately attempting to avoid this shameful label in Wilmington director Marsha Omato-Greenspan's hilarious comedic production "Escanaba in da Moonlight." The show will open at the Everett Theatre on Friday, and the final performance will be Feb. 24.
"Escanaba in da Moonlight" features mild language and is recommended for patrons aged 11 or older.
The production — written by Jeff Daniels, who starred opposite Jim Carey in the cult-classic comedy "Dumb & Dumber" — is a love-letter to hunters, especially those with ties to upstate Michigan. "Escanaba in da Moonlight" is a silly production that not only pokes fun at hunting rituals, but it also manages to weave in some supernatural elements and, of course, "a scene with farts," quipped Omato-Greenspan.
"It's definitely a guy's show," she added. "For once, there's definitely a show men can go and enjoy and have a good time at. Most of the time, women will drag their husbands to the theater. This time, I think the husbands should drag their wives to the theater."
Bagging a buck
The year is 1989 at a deer camp near Escanaba, Michigan. It's the eve before deer season kicks off and Reuben is joined by his father Albert (Bill Campbell, of Newark) brother Remnar (Tom Trietley, of Middletown) and oddball Jimmer Negamanee (Dave Hastings, of Middletown).
Reuben, who's in his 40s, isn't content being the oldest Soady to have never bagged a buck, although he's tried countless times. He plans to flip the script by relying on hunting traditions like eating pasties (a popular meat pie in Michigan made with rutabagas, meat, potatoes and lard). Not to mention, he's even considering a peculiar ritual suggested by his Native American wife, Wolf Moon Dance (Jenn Bruce, of Odessa), which includes splashing himself with porcupine urine.
"All the wackiness leads up to the end goal of trying to have Reuben get this buck," White said.
The great lengths that Reuben goes to in order to bag a buck might seem pitiful to many spectators at The Everett. But not to Reuben's wife, who wants nothing more than to see her hubby victorious.
"I think Wolf Moon Dance probably supports her husband no matter what," Bruce explained. "In fact, she says she loves him no matter what."
Page 2 of 2 - Aiming for laughs
Though gun control remains a hot-button topic in this country, Omato-Greenspan and her cast insisted the show isn't about praising guns, but rather an old tradition.
"It's about hunting, the sport of hunting," Bruce said. "I can tell you, I pass by, just about every day, hunters with their camouflage on."
And as part of the hunting tradition, "[The Soadys] eat what they shoot," White explained.
In fact, Trietley pointed out that the set for "Escanaba in da Moonlight," which features two mounted deer heads on the walls of a cabin, were killed by his father, Victor, who lent them to Omato-Greenspan for the show.
"There's a sport of hunting that has been there since the beginning of time, whether it was with arrows or spears," Omato-Greenspan said. "I understand there's a lot of sensitivity, especially with the school shootings and things, but that's not what this is about. It's not about promoting the use of guns."
IF YOU GO
WHAT "Escanaba in da Moonlight" theater production
WHEN 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15; 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16; 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17; the final show is on Sunday, Feb. 24
WHERE Everett Theatre, 47 W. Main St., Middletown
COST $15 senior/student; $18 adult