“Leaving Iowa” in Manistee: Manistee Civic Players production opens this Friday

Pictured (from left to right) are Maripat Allen, Cheryl Morin, Brayden Cole and Tom Richert, who play lead roles in the upcoming Manistee Civic Players' production, "Leaving Iowa." (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

Pictured (from left to right) are Maripat Allen, Cheryl Morin, Brayden Cole and Tom Richert, who play lead roles in the upcoming Manistee Civic Players’ production, “Leaving Iowa.” (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — The mark of a good play — or any event for that matter — is its ability to evoke emotion.

Director JoAnn Muma believes the Manistee Civic Players’ upcoming production of “Leaving Iowa” will do just that, across the board.

“It really runs the gamut from high comedy to very thought provoking tenderness,” said the Civic Players’ executive director. “I find that so intriguing with the play, and it’s been so much fun to work with.

“It’s a comedy, but it has very touching moments in it.”

The play, written by Chicago comedians Tim Clue and Spike Manton, will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, Oct. 28 and 29 and at 2 p.m. on Oct. 23 and 30 at the Ramsdell Theatre, located at 101 Maple St. in Manistee.

“Leaving Iowa” is a comedic but heartfelt tribute to family vacations.

It is the story of Don Browning — played by Brayden Cole — a middle-aged writer, who returns home and decides to finally take his father’s ashes to his childhood home, as requested. When he discovers grandma’s house is now a grocery store, however, he begins traveling across Iowa searching for a proper resting place for his father.

“I portray a man who takes for granted what his childhood was,” said Cole, “and when he comes to terms with it as an adult, he finally matures from it.”

This father-and-son road trip shifts from the present to Browning’s memories of the annual, torturous vacations of his childhood. Don’s journey leads him to reconcile his past and present.

“For everybody, once a very close member of your family dies — usually a mother or father — we always kind of seem to relive our time with them through our memories,” Muma said. “For this character in particular, the memory of his father elicited family vacations.”

Muma praised the talented and hardworking local cast and crew for the upcoming production.

“We have a very talented cast, from seasoned actors to newbies,” she said of the talent spread across 21 roles. “I couldn’t ask for a better cast, and on top of that we’ve got an awesome crew. ”

Muma said the crew has been busy creating much of the show’s scenery, rather than renting, and attendees can expect a wide range of sound for the show, including a spattering of music and dancing. She expects families who experience the production to leave with recollections of their own.

“It’s a really well written play that is good for families, kids included,” Muma said. “It’s really heartwarming. It should bring the family together as their leaving the theater, remembering the vacations they’ve spent together.

“It’s so relatable. Family vacations mean a lot to people.”

Order tickets in advance by calling MyNorth Tickets from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at (800) 836-0717, online at www.manisteecivicplayers.org or at the Ramsdell box office beginning at noon today.

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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