ACT’s New Season Kicks Off With Comedy ‘The Big Five-Oh’
Posted 5:31 a.m. on Wednesday, September 28, 2022
The Albert Lea Community Theater opens its 57th season Thursday with the comedy “The Big Five-Oh” at the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center.
“It was chosen as a play by the board last year during the planning session for several reasons,” said director Rory Mattson. “They kind of liked the play, and it’s an interesting spoof on comedy.”
Written by Rochester native Brian Mitchell, the play tells the story of three days in the life of one man.
“He’s about to have his 50th birthday and all kinds of things are happening to him in this short time,” he said. “His young daughter is getting engaged to a much older man who has a family, his young son doesn’t seem to be able to find a job or work in anything other than music, and the characters in the play have been so strongly writings that I think I really enjoyed it.”
He described the strength of the characters as amusing and called “The Big Five-Oh” a “well-written” work.
“Some writers write good characters, some writers write characters – there’s a difference between the two,” he said. “We have some very interesting people here, and that’s thanks to the author.”
He also didn’t think there was anything particularly difficult about directing this play, and said rehearsals were going “excellent” with a hard-working cast who cared about the roles they had.
“Sometimes in musicals or in a play with a huge cast, there are people who are into it and some who are a little bit less,” he said. “These people are all really sold on this.”
There are seven actors in the play.
So far, he noted that one of the most difficult aspects of directing the play was getting the actors to show up for rehearsals on time. At the same time, he thought directing them was easy because they listen to his direction.
More importantly, he wants audiences to see the message that growing old wasn’t easy.
“I’m 80, so I went through this 30 years ago,” he said.
Casting for the play took place 3.5 weeks ago, and the cast includes Andrew Anderson, Dawn Friday, Michelle Supalla, Ethan Eriksmoen, Kris Bartley, Daniel Montenegro, and Kaitlyn Hanna.
Hanna, who hails from Albert Lea, will play Sara Donavan, whom she described as the title character’s student.
“I sort of play her as a shy person, I guess,” she said
This will be her first performance outside of a school production of “Mamma Mia!”
“One of my old teachers who I’m friends with asked me if I wanted to come in after the auditions were over, and I thought I’d never been on a show here before, so [I] might as well,” she said.
Supalla, on the other hand, had plenty of stage experience at ACT.
She had starred in eight ACT plays before this one and had roles in “Doublewide, Texas,” “The Foreigner” and “Rumors,” among others.
Supalla will play Julie, a character she described as strong-willed who seeks her parents’ approval while “doing her own thing.”
Eriksmoen plays Julie’s brother, Eric.
“He’s very quirky, not the smartest guy, but he always has good intentions and he really loves music,” he said. “I know he makes fun of his dad a lot throughout the play.”
Prior to the show, he participated in the ACT production of “Beauty and the Beast.”
“The Big Five-Oh” has four acts, and Mattson said the play is usually 80 to 90 minutes long. The play will be performed from September 29 to October 2 and from October 5 to 8. All shows will start at 7:30 p.m., except for the matinee on October 2, which starts at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students and can be purchased by calling 1-877-730-3144, visiting actonbroadway.com or calling the box office. Tickets are also available for sale at the Albert Lea Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Mattson said his first directing for ACT was almost 50 years ago, and he believes he’s done more than 40 productions over the years, including two or three through ACT.
Mattson actually graduated from the same high school as Mitchell.