The third and final play of the season at the Pioneer Playhouse is Jeeves in Bloom, which runs Tuesday through Saturday, July 27 through August 7.
Taking a short break from rehearsal, Patricia Hammond and Daniel Hall Kuhn laughed and said they felt like the matriarch and patriarch of local dinner theater actors.
They auditioned together over 20 years ago to be summer cast for Pioneer Playhouse, and have enjoyed coming to Danville and performing every summer since then.
Hammond, who plays Dahlia Travers in the final show, said they enjoyed the three-piece season, instead of the usual five-piece in 10 weeks. “It was hectic. Five was a bit too much. Now, because two of the plays were three weeks long and the final play is two weeks long, the cast can “spend more time on each show, which essentially improves production,” she said.
Kuhn said he starred in the first two productions this summer – Clue on Stage and Southern Fried Funeral. But he directs Jeeves in Bloom, something he’s done many times over the years. He even starred in plays he directed, Kuhn said.
Eric Hedlund, who stars as Thomas Travers in the upcoming production, is originally from South Dakota but has lived in New York for eight years. “Things are still a bit slow in New York,” where he works as a stagehand, Hedlund said. The effects of the pandemic and closed theaters have caused less tourism.
But he remains busy at the Danville theatre.
Describing the Pioneer Playhouse and why he loves playing there, Hedlund said, “It’s a great family business.” He added, “Other places are like corporate theater, and it’s more like community theater.”
“We love theater and we’re here to have a good time and put on great shows.”
Pioneer Playhouse general manager Heather Henson said for many years that they produced five plays in 10 weeks. “But COVID has made us rethink the way we do shows.” She and her mother and producer Charlotte Henson, her brother and art director Robby Henson, and the board of directors wondered, “Do we really want to do this?
Also, when planning for this season in November, they didn’t know if the pandemic would be snuffed out by summer, so they decided to scale back productions with fewer shows, actors, and technicians.
And the revised schedule is working, Heather Henson said. “We plan to keep him as a role model.”
The final show, Jeeves in Bloom, begins July 27. The play is set in late June 1931 in the gardens of Brinkley Court, just outside Market Snodsbury in Worcestershire, England.
The peaceful English countryside will never be the same after a visit from Bertie Wooster (Giancarlo Herrera) and his unflappable butler Jeeves (Silas Waugh). What starts out as a plan to play matchmaker for a tongue-tied, newt-loving friend goes awry. Soon, Bertie fends off unwanted romantic advances, a clumsy burglary, and a murderous French chef. This show is a delightfully silly, high-energy comedy and is rated G. It is adapted by Margaret Raether from stories by PG Wodehouse.
Other cast members include Erika Lee Sengstack, Jessa DeLuca, and Adian Chapman.
Even though play productions end on August 7, there are still two weekends of special entertainment scheduled at the theater.
A weekend of stand-up comedy, featuring Joe Deuce and friends, will take place August 13-14.
And new this summer, the show house will offer a special musical weekend. On August 20, Powerplay will present a rock ‘n roll night with brass, playing popular songs from the 60s and 70s.
Then, on August 21, Barry Lockard will perform a tribute to Elvis, “channeling the king and paying homage to the Rupp Arena gig that never was.”