OHIO VALLEY — For a playwright, it can be difficult to see what works and what doesn’t until their play gets released into the hands of actors.
Such is the case with local playwrights Roger and Mary Gilmore. At 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1, and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 2, River City Players (RCP) will present a newer and updated version of “Bah, Hogwash! An Appalachian Christmas Carol” at the Middleport Village Hall, formerly Middleport Elementary School. Tickets will be $8 and will be available at the door.
The Gilmores first wrote “Bah, Hogwash!” last year, and it was performed by RCP last Christmas season. While the show was well-received among audiences, the Gilmores noticed a few things from the writer’s perspective that could be improved. While the classic Dickens’ story of Ebenezer Scrooge finding redemption remains true, this year the Gilmores said they made changes to pick up the pace of the show, such as cutting the unnecessary “Dickensian” language, eliminating unneeded narrations, and increasing the tempos of some songs as well as and cutting out extra verses.
In addition, some characters from last year’s version have been cut altogether and a few new ones have been added. Also, some staple characters, like the Haints of Christmas Past and Future, got a facelift and were completely rewritten as well. This year’s production also features some of last year’s cast reprising their roles, as well as some new faces.
From a more technical side, the set has also been completely redesigned and the somewhat long scene changes from last year’s production have also been turned into a play within a play featuring an elf stage crew, which not only allows for a quicker scene change, but non-stop entertainment once the lights go up.
“Editing is always the greatest part of writing and we went over the script a dozen or more times removing all unnecessary dialogue,” the Gilmores said. “We ‘punched up’ the dialog for brevity, clarity, and humor, sometimes to the point of weighing the value or necessity of a single word. We’re still editing as rehearsals progress.”
Aside from simply wanting to rewrite and improve the play, the Gilmores also applied and received an Ohio River Border Initiative (ORBI) Grant for $1,200 to go towards the development and production of this year’s show. Since RCP is a non-profit organization, the Gilmores also noted the group is always searching for ways to continue to fund their efforts, much like other non-profit organizations, as well to continue offering performance opportunities in the local communities.
The Gilmores discussed the beginning of this adaptation, saying they have been performing Appalachian music and folklore for 35 years and when the idea of doing an Appalachian version of this classic story came about, it was a perfect fit.
“Roger had already written several of the songs that were a good fit for the story line and the others fell into place readily,” Mary added. “Roger is a prolific songwriter who has written over 800 songs of many genres and ‘Bah Hogwash!’ would include many styles beyond the traditional Appalachian.”
The Gilmores also expressed their gratitude for the support from the Village of Middleport and the local communities.
“One of the most important aspects of putting a show together is a venue where the cast and crew has accessibility to the space and we are very pleased that the Middleport Village administration has been gracious and accommodating to allow the necessary access,” the Gilmores said. “Community theater can only exist with the support of the community as a whole, and we sincerely hope that our local communities on both sides of the river will support ‘Bah Hogwash! An Appalachian Christmas Carol.’ If the play continues to be well-received, it is our sincere hope that it will become an annual holiday event and destination point in Meigs County. Countless hours are being put into this production by cast and crew to make this a production you will not want to miss.”
This year’s production of “Bah, Hogwash!” includes 11 original songs featuring authentic Appalachian instrumentation.
Featured in the cast this year will be Nathan Becker, Robbie Dillon, Andrew Bissell, Dan Stewart, Celia McCoy, Mike Kennedy, Linda Warner, Mary Ann Shoults, Gary Walker, Janis Carnahan, Julie Howard, Noah Anderson, Sammi Alkire, Ty Bissell, Todd Bissell, Nathan Jeffers, Sam McCall, Terri Sturgeon, Courtney Ginther, Jessica Holiday, Tony Carnahan, Sophia Averion, EJ Anderson, Diana Bissell, Drew Humphreys, Primo Averion, Jessica Dangerfield, Elaina Scarberry, John Lohse, Carlo Averion, Claire Howard, Angel Cromwell, Tom Reed, Linda Myer, and Amber Sturgeon.
For more information, visit www.rcplayers.net.