“Fan Tom of the Opry” is a melodramatic production filled with silliness, twists, secrets, gold, good guys and bad — all from a dusty Wild West view point.

The Young at Heart Readers Theatre premieres the show — an 1800s spoof of Phantom of the Opera — next Tuesday in the Forest Grove City Library.

Unlike in plays, readers-theatre actors sit or stand on stage, reading lines from a script without the benefit of elaborate sets or action. But within that framework, there’s room for fun and drama.The Young at Heart Readers Theatre cast will create sound effects using props such as xylophones and bells when they present 'Fan Tom of the Opry' Tuesday, April 2, at the Forest Grove City Library. Here they rehearse at Theatre in the Grove's Main Street Studio.

“We’re crazy,” said Carolyn Azure, a former teacher who started the Young at Heart Readers Theatre. “We had kids screaming with laughter yesterday when we were at Jackson School.”

One fun part of readers theatre is sound effects, made either with voices or body parts or through props such as — in the case of “Fan Tom” — an old-fashioned typewriter, xylophone, bells and “trap-door” box. Azure’s group will wear basic black costumes April 2, but add masks, hats, coats and other accessories.

Young at Heart is filled with experienced actors, writers, directors and former teachers, including a number of Hillsboro residents. Leaders are certified in oral interpretation and readers-theatre mythology through the Institute of Readers Theatre in London and Toronto.

The programs last 20 to 45 minutes and range from re-telling classic folk tales to dramatizing history to spoofing spies. Last fall at the Forest Grove United Church of Christ, Young at Heart did a show about the Titanic, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking.

“Fan Tom” is free and starts at 7 p.m. in the Forest Grove City Library, 2114 Pacific Avenue.

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