SHELDON—The second play of the 2019 Sheldon High School Summer Theatre season, “Escanaba in Da Moonlight,” will feature slapstick comedy and supernatural elements, according to director Luke Jansma.
“It’s a very strange show, to say the least,” Jansma said. “It’s strange in a good way.”
The show will be performed at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday in the high school commons. Tickets will be available at the door and will cost $7 for adults and $5 for students.
Written by Jeff Daniels, the play is set in a cabin in Escanaba, MI, and focuses on the eldest son of the Soady family who has never shot a buck.
Jansma said in the Soady family, bagging a buck is a family tradition, so the fact that 35-year-old Reuben has not done so is “a big no-no.”
Albert, Reuben’s father, supports Reuben in his quest to shoot his first buck and fulfill the family’s tradition.
“He’s not about to let his son end up not killing a buck for 35 years,” Jansma said.
Reuben’s younger brother, Remnar, who has shot several bucks before, does not care to see his older brother shoot a buck because he enjoys competing with Reuben when it comes to hunting.
While the main conflict of the show relates to Reuben’s desire to bag a buck, the play also has a supernatural aspect involving two other characters: Ranger Tom and Jimmer.
Ranger Tom and Jimmer argue about the nature of mysterious lights that zoom around outside of the cabin, Jansma said. Ranger Tom is convinced the lights are a manifestation of God, but Jimmer argues it is an extraterrestrial spaceship.
“It’s up to you if you actually believe them or not,” Jansma said.
He said the show is full of slapstick humor, which the audience will surely love. He also pointed out the improvisational acting experience of two senior cast members Jesse Hickman, who plays Reuben, and Jack Stevenson, who plays Albert.
“They were like the A-team when it came to that when I was in speech, at least,” he said, adding, “They just knew how to do it, and I think that will really help them in this show.”
The rest of the cast members of “Escanaba in Da Moonlight” are Simon Maggert, who plays Remnar; Fredi Guadarrama, who plays Ranger Tom; Logan Merley, who plays Jimmer; and Madeline Gude, who plays Reuben’s wife, Wolf Moon Dance.
Jansma graduated from Sheldon High School in 2018 and attends Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City, where he is studying broadcast journalism. He participated in the summer theatre program for three years, having started his sophomore year. This summer is his first as a director in the program.
He said he is grateful and excited to be working with the cast members in his show.
“They all work well together, they all want to put on a good show and they all do their absolute best,” Jansma said. “They always give their 100 percent.”