By Mindy Ragan Wood
Patrons of the theatre in Piedmont, Yukon and Okarche may find a performing arts center closer to home than Oklahoma City.
Piedmont is soon to be home to a misplaced theatre company thanks to Chester’s Party Barn.
The Stage Door Theatre will perform Tony n’ Tina’s wedding, an improvisational comedy about a wedding that goes awry in the 1980s. The tickets are $35 per person but include an Italian dinner and wedding cake. The play will be held at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday May 11-12.
The plot could be described as My Big Fat Greek Wedding meets the Wedding Singer. The mother of the bride and father of the groom previously dated and an upset ensues when the old fling becomes known. A bridesmaid comes to idolize the wedding singer and tries to impress him with her star qualities, taking all the attention away from the bride.
“It’s different from a typical play because you’re the wedding guest. You’re asked to be seated on the bride or groom’s side. It’s a sit-down dinner but then all this family drama plays out in front of everyone,” actor and director Kyle Shifflett said.
The play will not follow a line-by-line script but using cues from the play’s creators create an outcome by making up their own lines.
“The actors are left to develop the characters and fill in the blanks,” Shifflet said. “They all have great acting experience but it’s a lot of improv, so it will definitely stretch them.”
The theatre troupe had performed in Yukon since 1987 but found itself without a home when the 100-year-old building it used was condemned by the city three years ago.
“Stage Door has always been a Yukon entity,” Stage Door Theatre board member Frieda Penn said. “When I first got the invite (to Chester’s), I was hesitant to drive all the way out there, but all the movers and shakers in Piedmont have been very receptive to us. They think it’s a great idea and want to help. I know Piedmont is a small town but it’s growing.
By being further north and west, are we opening up getting patrons from Okarche and north Oklahoma City and Edmond? Maybe even some El Reno people will come over. I think it’s opening up a whole different variety of people who didn’t come to Yukon to see shows.”
Penn said they tried to find a new home in Yukon, but the venues wanted to charge several thousand dollars a month for a lease. The troupe paid a “pittance” in rent previously.
Chester’s Party Barn will not charge them a lease fee and has offered land at no cost if the theatre chooses to build their own permanent theatre.
“He’s not charging us anything to do it,” Penn said. “It’s so kind and generous of him. You don’t find a lot of people who do those kinds of things anymore.”
The actors and actresses are primarily from Yukon and Piedmont, but the theatre is open to anyone who wants a place to dabble in a creative outlet.
“There’s much more to a community theatre than the actresses and actors,” Penn said.
“Whether it’s building the set or seamstresses who sewed costumes from scratch when we needed them, the makeup and hair dressers, it’s a creative outlet and we’ve had a lot of people tell us they miss it.”
Penn said the plays will mostly be family friendly performances. Over the years the Stage Door has performed a wide variety of plays including “The Sound of Music,” “Cheaper by the Dozen,” “Steel Magnolias,” and “Little Shop of Horrors” to name a few.
“Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” will be a fundraiser for Stage Door to get back on its feet. Organizers plan to explore the possibility of applying for matching grants to fund production and a new theatre. With 30 years’ worth of props, furniture, office supplies, building materials and a large wardrobe, the theatre company hopes to build a 10,000 to 12,000 square feet structure.
“Grants don’t pay overhead expenses,” Penn said. “But they will pay for a new building.”
The theatre would be a unique addition to Piedmont’s struggling business sector which has been challenged by the growth along Northwest Highway.