Small Craig troupe tests comic waters with new production | CraigDailyPress.com

Small Craig troupe tests comic waters with new production

Group of six players in Craig ready to try performance based on "The Lucy Show"

Michael Neary

Emily Leitner, left, and Riley Johnston rehearse for a play based on “The Lucy Show” at East Elementary School.





Emily Leitner, left, and Riley Johnston rehearse for a play based on "The Lucy Show" at East Elementary School.
Michael Neary

— Leann Dixon remembers growing up in South Carolina, the oldest of 11 children, putting on plays for her family in impressively makeshift surroundings.

"We'd have all my family come and fill the living room," she said. "And we'd even put a curtain up between the living room and the dining room."

Dixon would also create costumes, pushing the plays to a level of realism that doesn't usually take shape in family performances.

Now Dixon, who lives in Craig, is pouring some of that creativity into a tiny production called "A Comedy for Charity." It's based on the 1960s television program "The Lucy Show," starring Lucille Ball, and it's playing at 7 p.m. this Thursday through Saturday at East Elementary School.

Dixon is directing the play, and she’s getting acting help from her husband, Elijah Dixon; her two brothers-in-law, Gabriel and Caleb Dixon; her sister, Emily Leitner; and Moffat County High School graduate Riley Johnston, who acted in plays at the high school who continues to act in other venues.

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The group, which calls itself Good Medicine Productions, has been rehearsing in the school gymnasium, where the play will be performed. Dixon said that admission will cost $6 and that all proceeds will be donated to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Dixon's acting experience extends into college, and she leads a Bible club after school at East Elementary that sometimes involves skits. Leitner, who has acting experience of her own, is in town from South Carolina to help her sister with the play.

"I've done two other shows in South Carolina with local theater," Leitner said, noting a part as Emma Fairfax in "Doctor Dolittle."

During a recent rehearsal, the group acted in costume — multiple costumes — with pronounced facial expressions and a comic timing they were honing for curtain-time. Props, ranging from an old typewriter to a cardboard television set splashed some realism and humor onto the performance.

Dixon said she and her husband are paying all of the expenses related to the production.

The cast also received some advice from Scott Middleton, minister at Craig Christian Church. Middleton harbors a unique ability to make observations about stage performance — especially when it leans toward the physical.

"I was a professional magician," he said. "I traveled for 15 years — I have a little greasepaint in the blood."

Middleton said that, after working as a magician, he's able to notice where the audience's eyes might tend to wander during a performance.

"People love entertainment," Middleton said. "People love live theater."

The group is clearly experimenting, and the actors sometimes improvise during rehearsal.

"That's what I like about acting," said Gabriel Dixon. "You kind of add stuff as you go."

The group also talked about doing plays regularly, and even growing into a kind of community theater. For the current play, Leann Dixon said she passed out about 30 flyers and advertised on Facebook but didn't receive a big response. She's still seeking people to play extra parts, and people who are interested can call 970-620-6404.

Leann Dixon characterized her directing style as easy-going, for the most part. Cast members said she keeps them on track.

"I'm the oldest of 11, so I guess a little of that comes out," she said.

Contact Michael Neary at 970-875-1794 or mneary@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Education.