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Rohs presents hit comedy for last weekend in April

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By Joshua Shepherd

By Josh Shepherd, News writer
James Smith, director of the upcoming new comedy at Rohs Opera House, invites everyone to meet the Turpins, a family that’s barely holding it together. A family so dysfunctional, it’s laugh-out-loud funny.

 Dearly Departed, presented by the Rohs Theater Company, was a smash 1991 off-Broadway comedy from writers David Bottrell and Jessie Jones. The script was adapted  into a movie called Kingdom Come starring Whoopie Goldberg.
Trying to describe the play, Smith admits that the plot sounds more like drama than comedy, but the situations are played out in a manner that families can identify.
When the family patriarch, Bud Turpin, keels over minutes into the first act, it’s up to the rest of the Turpin family, along with their bizarre group of neighbors and friends, to organize a  funeral and get the old codger buried.
His barely grieving widow. Raynelle, suggests that “Mean and Surly” be etched into Bud’s gravestone while his sister, Delightful, grieves by consuming every morsel of food she can find, and Aunt Marguerite tries to save everyone for the Lord.
Meanwhile the rest of the family deals, or chooses not to deal, with the escalating costs of the funeral and just trying to get along with each other.
The cast includes most of the Rohs company regulars, Smith said.
Dearly Departed is a special bonus production for fans of Harrison County’s community theater productions.
“When we [Rohs Theater Company and harriCYN Community Theater] got together in January to plan out the schedule for the opera house, we noticed that there was a gap in April,” Smith said.
Years before a friend of Smith’s had suggested that Dearly Departed would be a great play to perform in this area, so the Rohs company decided to run with it.
Putting Dearly Departed together has been quite an experience, Smith said. The first read through of the script, everyone thought it was funny.
But each time through, the actors are discovering new things to enhance the comedy, he said.
“Every rehearsal, I think we’re finding more of the comedy in the script,” he said.
The cast includes Deana Wiglesworth as Raynelle Turpin; Roger Slade as Ray Bud; Jennifer Arnold as Lucille; Greg Shirley as Junior; Lisa Ridenour as Suzanne, Davye Hisle as Delightful; Shelley Slade as Aunt Marguerite; Phillip Nickerson as Royce; Debbie Schmidt as Veda; Bob Laytart as Uncle Norval (and the late Bud Turpin); Megan Ritchie as Nadine; Mike Bess as Clyde; and Brian Canupp as Reverend Hooker. Joining Canupp are a number of children who make up the hilarious “Joy of Life Singers.”
Tickets for the show are on sale now at Biancke’s Restaurant at $10 each. The show is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, April 25 and 26, at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday afternoon, April 27, at 2 p.m.
Patrons who have become “Friends of the Rohs” will be treated to an advance showing on Friday, April 18. Those lucky few will have a chance to enjoy the show before anyone else, Smith said.
That’s the Rohs’ way of showing appreciation for the community support of the theater, Smith said