Pine Bluffs Post - Serving all of Eastern Laramie County since 1908

By Gary Collins
Pine Bluffs Post Editor 

Love came Justin Tyme


August 10, 2017

Gary Collins/Pine Bluffs Post

Dusty Rhodes serenades his intended, Lacie Camisole.

With the final curtain on Saturday the 2017 Trail Days melodrama, "Dirty Deeds at the Depot: Also known as Professor Mack's Miracle Elixir of Life," came to its inevitable happy ending.

A unique feature of this year's performance was the use of song in the show. Whether this was the first year in which singing was involved is a matter of conjecture. None of the cast who ventured a guess could say yes or no.

It was the singing, however, that prompted Bret Steger to forgo either the part of the hero or the villain, parts he has played in past years. If asked, Steger will state that he is not a good vocalist. His wife Kristina on the other hand claims he has a fine voice. Nonetheless, Steger took the part of Judge or Mayor, Jerry Mander. In that role, Steger proved himself a deft comedian bringing laughs from the audiences with his broad reading of the part.

Kristina Steger, in the role of Claire Voyant, also proved herself able to elicit laughs, though sometimes because of a missed cue or line. She and the cast turned those moments to their advantage and the good natured crowd applauded the slight improvisations.

Kristina can easily be forgiven for those few lapses having spent most of the first week of rehearsals while she was in Kansas taking care of her three-mont-old grandchild. She stated that whenever she tried to review her part while in Kansas, the youngster would call for her attention as grandchildren will.

The Can Can Girls were played by Megan Madden and Taylor Crouse, who doubled as Dora Jar, telegraph operator at the depot and sound effects wizard of the production.

According to Madden, the girls dance routine was entirely choreographed by the pair. One humorous moment missed by playgoers occurred during first dress. Near the end of their routine, when the girls are locked arm in arm, the laces at the back of their bodices became entwined, tying the two girls together and breaking the dance routine.

The production, according to Joleen Marquardt was a group activity. Their was no director. The cast members blocked their scenes themselves and worked out the routines as they went through rehearsals.

At one particular rehearsal, Matt Hockersmith, who played the "Hero" Dusty Rhodes, spent his time working with Jasmin Becerra, the Cue Card Girl, so that she could make her entrances on cue.

Becerra, during Friday's performance, was received enthusiastically by the audience during each of her turns.

To return to Hockersmith, his performance as the man arranged to marry Lacie Camisole, the damsel in distress, filled the stage. It was not only his height, he dwarfed some of the performers with his size, but his dorky good-natured hero elicited laughs from the audience but also threatened to bring his cast mates to laughter. His part was a short one but he made the most of every moment on stage.

Hope Person, as Lacie, was as sweet and innocent as you could hope to bring to a damsel in distress. As one of the anchors of the story, Person was an ideal center of attention.

Lacie's friend in the story, Helen Highwater was played by Sarah Coverdale. During rehearsals, Coverdale had perhaps the hardest times remembering her lines. Often, at those times there would be a long pause as she sought to remember or the script was consulted for her cues. One might have despaired of her performance come showtime. That being said, during Friday's performance Coverdale played her part perfectly. Well, there was one instance where she missed her cue but turned it to laughter.

Damien Thompson, or Professor Thaddeus Mack the Villain, had the longest speech of any of the actors. Thompson, however, rendered it accurately and with over the top nuance. His part was not as large as the villain part usually is.

"It;s actually quite funny how small the villain part is," Thompson said.

Small or not, Thompson played the villain for all he was worth.

The Professor's sidekick, Duncan Disorderly was played by Heather Becerra. Being a sidekick, her part was more to help sustain the action. It was not a role with a lot of laughs or one that would steal the show. Becerra, however, did well in her portrayal, leaving the broader characters the chance to shine. Marquardt, as Natalie Drest, was largely unseen behind her piano in the back corner of the stage, but it was obvious that she was having fun in those moments when she came from behind the piano for her few lines.

John Thompson, who played the Sheriff towards the end of the play, played his small part well in the arrest of the Professor.

The audience seemed to enjoy the performance on Friday night, awing or hissing and booing when prompted by Paige Turner Jasmin. The enjoyment of the cast in their performance only added to the good time.

Special note should be made of the backdrop. The original backdrop was painted, according to Marquardt, by Dean Bowman five years ago. To this was added the work of Bret Steger who painted the fireplace and the train and clouds seen in the windows of the depot.

Lastly, there is Justin Tyme played by Jordan Crouse. His was not a comic part but rather one of the lovelorn station master. His understated performance, especially compared to the others of the cast, brought an emotional center to the play. When he and Person were on the stage together, they made you believe that their love was true and heart felt, making the ending plausible.

It was easy to believe, that in this case true love did win out


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