It was a show like no other—the barn, the calf, the square dancing, and line dancing—but it definitely was well-received despite the unconventional aspects.
Fort Frances Theatre presented “Breaker Calling Cinderella” last Thursday to Saturday in the big red barn at the Cornell farm on La Vallee Road North.
“The feedback we got—people thought it was just absolutely wonderful being in the barn and stuff,” noted director Cathy Richards.
“I loved how everyone loved it because we heard so much great feedback from it,” echoed Richards’ daughter, Jenna Nowak, who played stepsister Baby Boneventure.
The country-style CB Cinderella story takes place in Upshaw, Tex. in the 1970s, complete with drawling accents and CB lingo.
The play follows Rose Lee, played by Leah Nowak, who spends her time responding to the orders of her evil stepmother (Mary Elder) and stepsisters (Sarah Marusyk and Jenna Nowak).
Her only pleasure is the secret CB radio her daddy left her—that is, until she meets Billy Bob Bender (Kevin Empey).
Other cast members included Drew Donald, Mark Colvin, Greg Mattson, Christine Denby, Darcy Jones, Sandi Elliott, and Shannon Darby.
The play ended with a barn dance instead of the ball, but incorporated some line dancing, fiddle music by Darby, and square dancing by the local “Pairs ’n Squares” group.
“And ‘Johnny’ the calf—he was a hit,” enthused Richards. “People loved him. We should have put him in the program.”
She stressed the cast did a great job and enjoyed themselves throughout the whole production.
“They really got along well,” she remarked. “We had a hard time getting them out of the barn on Sunday when we were tearing down.”
Richards said everything went perfect except for a slight problem with the sound system during Saturday night’s show.
“We blew the sound system. The last night with two songs to go,” she noted. “We luckily had a portable system right there. I don’t know how we managed that.”
Nowak, an 11th-grader at Fort Frances High School who has been in several plays before, agreed the show certainly came together.
“I was actually really surprised,” she conceded. “I think it went extremely well. Like always, we pulled it together in the end.”
“It went great,” echoed Colvin, who portrayed “Cotton,” one of Billy Bob’s friends. “Lots of people showed up. Everyone seemed to enjoy it—lots of laughs.”
Both Nowak and Colvin said it was quite different using a barn for the location of their play.
“At first I was excited, but then I realized that we didn’t have any change rooms, we’d have to be behind the barn, and there’s lots of hay. Every night we went home with hay down our pants,” chuckled Nowak.
“But I think we were able to work with it enough because even though it had its drawbacks, it ended up being way better than if it was on a stage,” she added.
Colvin agreed it was just something different, something new and exciting, which made for a large audience turnout.
“It was totally packed,” he enthused. “They were squeezing people in on hay bales—that’s how packed it was.”
And of course, the cast members had a great time working together.
“They all worked very hard and we had a lot of fun doing it,” Colvin said. “A lot of goofing around, but when it came down to the play, we got it down pat.”
“I enjoyed all the rehearsals in the barn,” added Nowak. “It was fun to get out there and play in the hay and to be out in the country. I liked that. It was like another world.”
With the success of “Breaker Calling Cinderella,” Richards said she’d be willing to do another play in the Cornell barn.
“I think they would love to have us again,” she remarked. “They’re talking about doing something in the fall for Hallowe’en, so I don’t know, we’ll see.”