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This year the Los Alamos Little Theater presents “Ten Nights in a Barroom,” an adaptation by Fred Carmichael of William W. Pratt’s original work. Remaining performances are at 8:15 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Jan. 16, 17, 23 and 24. There are no matinee performances.
Although the original play was written in the 1890s, the lessons taught by “Ten Nights” still apply today. The main setting is within the Sickle and Sheaf Barroom, where owner Simon Slade (played by Darryl Garcia) plans to make more money than he ever did as a miller and bring prosperity to his family. His wife, (played by Alice Corrigan), doesn’t share his dream. Clad in black clothing and sad facial expressions, she’s the darkness of regret, the mourning of happy days gone by, and a foreshadow of the sad events to come. As her husband’s new lifestyle sends him on a downward spiral, we hear her passion and hope for their small town through her sigh and remembrances of life “at the old mill.”
Their son, Frank, (Nick Garcia), is a sweet, innocent lad that sets out purely to help his father’s new business succeed. When temptation strikes, however, he finds himself in a whirlwind of events that take him from a sip out of the whiskey bottle and a wink from a pretty girl to murder.
This melodrama has it all. A glorified babysitter named Sample Switchel (Paul Littleton) who throws dice for shots while keeping a watchful eye on Willie Hammond, (Pete Sanford), a man who refuses to grow up. The ever faithful Mrs. Morgan, (Courtney Lounsbury), wife of Joe, (Russ Hopper), never stops believing in her husband. Only her daughter, Mary Morgan, the angel child, (Sandra Ward), can rescue Joe from certain death at the bottom of a bottle. But she’s not just her father’s heroine. Through her vision, she rescues countless others in the end.
And then there’s Goldie Hills (Betty Wilson). She’s an empty soul wandering the Earth in search of a good man but instead finds the fulfillment she needs through God.
When she faces certain doom at the hands of the villain, her faith gets her through it and she reaps the rewards of a good deed.
We have Tommy (Micha Ben-Niam) the naïve shoe-shine boy and the Bucolic girls, (Tory Hill, Sara Bouquin, and Maureen Rousseaux) who are counseled in the ways of love by the young, dreamy-eyed Mehitabel Cartwright (Louisa Giliani). Let’s not forget Romaine, (Brad Lounsbury), the gauge by which we measure the destruction of the folks who frequent the Sickle and Sheaf, and the energetic cancan girls (Chrissie Arnpriester, Rose Corrigan, and Alison Mercer-Smith).
No melodrama is complete without a villain. This one has several but at the center of all the action we see the insightful Harvey Green, (Larry Gibbons), an eternal shape-shifter.
A maverick of sorts, he feeds on the weaknesses of others, not so much to misguide them, but to give himself an advantage. He’s the black to their white, the down to their up, a seemingly good luck charm for those whose luck has run out. His sly grin and mischievous eyes subtly encourage folks to take the wrong road. He’s a liar and a cheat, but his eloquence with the written word steals the heart of a fair young maiden.
The success of this production is due to director TJ Severinghaus, who has combined his inexhaustible positive mental attitude and a talented cast to bring humor to this otherwise preachy theme condemning the ownership of taverns.
Come to hear the great piano accompaniment of Sheila Schiferl or to sigh with Mrs. Slade. Come to throw peanuts at Harvey or to see true love blossom. Come and enjoy a Los Alamos tradition.
Editor’s Note: Read a review of “Ten Nights in a Barroom” in today’s Kaleidoscope.