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Off-center cast spins tale of redemption

Sandy Actors Theatre brings popular off-Broadway story to the stage
by: Jim Hart Mrs. Paddy (Vicky Mills) goes ballistic (she hates everything) in the Sandy Actors Theatre staging of “The Curious Savage.”

When the Sandy Actors Theatre company enters the stage opening night April 8, its members will perform a drama/comedy that will certainly bring smiles and tears to its audience.

Director Jim Wilhite has assembled a cast as divergent as one might expect to see locked in a sanatorium.

'The Curious Savage' by John Patrick follows the life of a woman whose husband died and left her a $10 million inheritance.

Her selfish step-children (Titus, Samuel and Lily Belle) do everything they can to get their hands on that money, but their step-mother, Mrs. Ethel Savage, portrayed by Cheryl Nelson, seems to be one step ahead of them. She has another purpose for the negotiable securities and has a devious way to keep her step-children's hands off the cash.

Much of the play is set in a sanatorium, where Mrs. Savage has been placed by her step-children - placed with a spectrum of the weirdest people imaginable.

But Wilhite says these people are not scary.

'They've just created a little mythical world,' he said, 'that protects them from society.'

It is there Mrs. Savage discovers the neglected virtues of kindness and affection have not been entirely lost in society, which often seems motivated only by dishonesty and greed.

These people are not what they seem, Wilhite says, as he describes some of their weird fantasies.

'Hannibal (Tim Park) can only play two scratchy notes on his violin,' Wilhite said, 'but he believes he's a concert violinist.

'Jeff walks around with his hand over his face, thinking he's horribly scarred - his plane went down in the war - when, in fact, his face is perfect.'

Wilhite promises a surprise late in the play - a happening that will delight members of the audience, but could arouse their collective affection for these off-center people.

'To me, this play is a story of redemption,' he said, 'because the ending is very beautiful - and very healing for everyone.'

The cast, in order of appearance, includes Rachel Hill as Florence, Ashley English as Fairy Mae, Tim Park as Hannibal, Travis Williams Sr. as Jeff, Vicky Mills as Mrs. Paddy, Lynsee Chapman as Miss Willie, Jim Bumgardner as Titus Savage, Carly Hampton as Lily Belle Savage, Jim Lamproe as Samuel Savage, Cheryl Nelson in the lead role as Mrs. Ethel Savage and Berta Limbaugh as Dr. Emmett.

'The Curious Savage' is one of the top 10 most popular plays among community theaters and high school or university drama departments across the nation, said Wilhite, speaking of a show that enjoyed much success in the early 1950s, drawing in many standing-room-only off-Broadway crowds.

Wilhite's one-word digest of his company's staging of this story is 'zany.'

'Savage' will be performed each weekend from April 8 to May 7.

Show times are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and a 3 p.m. matinee Sundays.

Reservations are often essential, and admission is $15 general, $12 seniors and $10 children (12 and under).

The theater is at 17433 Meinig Ave., behind Ace Hardware.

For more information, call 503-668-6834 or visit sandyactorstheatre.org.