A brand new show opens this week at the Depot Theater Company.
The show, "A Christmas Cactus," by Eliot Byerrum, follows the Christmas Eve adventures of Cactus O'Riley, a tough private eye described in the script as "a white hot redhead with the holiday blues."
Between solving mysteries and delivering small miracles, Cactus gets a second chance at her career and love.
A brand new show opens this week at the Depot Theater Company. The show, "A Christmas Cactus," by Eliot Byerrum, follows the Christmas Eve adventures of Cactus O'Riley, a tough private eye described in the script as "a white hot redhead with the holiday blues." Between solving mysteries and delivering small miracles, Cactus gets a second chance at her career and love. The story is brought to life by six actors with a wide variety of stage experience. "We have two characters who have never been in a Depot production before, two who have had some experience with the company but are stepping up to larger roles for this show, and two veterans with a lot of shows to their credit," said Cary Droste, director of the production. The show marks Droste's first venture in directing, although he's been a regular in many past company productions. His company debut was in "Corpses" in 2008. After a three-year break, he returned for "Twelve Angry Men," in 2011 and has been busy on stage since. Some of his favorites have been "Harvey," "Bus Stop," and last summer's community production of "Annie Get Your Gun." "When the person who was going to direct this show moved out of town, I was asked if I wanted to direct. Well, I answered before thinking. I mean, how hard can it be? And I've learned a lot," Droste said during a pause before Monday evening's first dress rehearsal. Now that the show is ready to open, Droste has a plan. "If everything goes well and the crowd loves it, then I can tell myself I did a good job. If they hate it, then it's Connie's fault (the company's producing director), or the cast, or possibly my parents," he joked. Most of Droste's new understanding of the directing process have come from realizing the differences between being on stage as part of a production and being in a position to make critical decisions about the production from the audience's point of view. "Blocking the actors on stage is harder than it looks. In fact, I probably need to go back and apologize to every director I've ever worked with for the times I was impatient while they were working out a blocking problem. As an actor, you think 'Just tell me where to stand,' but as a director you have to consider what the scene looks like from every seat in the house and how it affects the action of the play. It's completed," he said. Droste also admits he has a tendency to assume the cast knows what he's thinking without being told. "Most of the stress I've had has been stress I made myself," he said. "Next time I'll prepare better and sooner and I'll make sure a set designer is on board and a costumer and a stage manager and all that." Droste has been impressed with the willingness of everyone involved with the production to step up and make sure he doesn't fail. "Everyone has been anxious to help and keep me on the right track. They're not interested in letting me fall on my face just for giggles," he said. Droste has been involved in many of the technical angles of the production from set design to building and painting. "I've enjoyed learning more about those areas and I plan to do more technical work for future productions," he said. The process of putting the show together on stage has been both challenging and enjoyable. "It's fun to work with the actors to get a physical bit right or get the comedy timing right or nail down a character," he said. But the opening of the show brings another challenge: stepping back and letting the actors have the show. "It's hard to let got but at some point you realize your work is done and it's time to let the show play itself out," he said. And once the last crowd has left and the set is struck and the production is history, Droste is looking forward to one more experience. "This has been a great experience and the best part is I know it will help me as an actor the next time I'm on stage." On the boards The cast of the show includes company veterans Darleen Clifton Smith and Bradley Lies, Katy Fowler and Lee Harlan, and newcomers Amber Durham and Miguel Coca. Stage Manager is Connie Penick. Jennifer Vierthaler designed lights, Kyle Tallent designed sound and Dee Miller designed costumes. Jadyn Miller is light board operator. Kolin Walker provided saxophone solos for the sound cues. The set was built by Karl Stinemetze and Richard Ingland. Zach Swenson and Nicole Webb will preside in the kitchen. The menu for this production will be roasted red pepper soup, sourdough rolls, ouvrir beef wellington, twice baked mashed potatoes, carrot soufflé, bread pudding and home made egg nog. The show opens Dec. 5 and runs through Dec. 21. Ticket for this dinner theater production are $40 and reservations may be made by calling the box office at 620-225-1001.