By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
Keizer Homegrown Theatre hopes to highlight the absurdity of Heaven Can Wait, the story of a boxer who arrives in the afterlife 60 years early and in order to return to earth must take up the body of a nefarious millionaire.
“We are taking a 1930s play that was unabashedly sentimental and giving it a twist where we recognize the absurdity of the situation far more specifically than it was recognized in the original,” director Linda Baker said. “The absurdity of it all is really the thing.”
The play runs November 10-11, 17 and 18 at 7 p.m. and November 12 and 19 at 3 p.m. in the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center chapel.
Tickets are $15 and available at the door or online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3131857.
Jeff Minden, a 1999 McNary graduate, plays the prizefighter, Joe Pendleton. Minden was in the play in high school as the overeager messenger who mistakenly picks up Pendleton and takes him to the afterlife to start the story.
“It’s kind of fun doing it again so many years later and doing a different role this time and seeing it from a different prospective,” Minden said. “Joe’s a fantastic character. He’s so honest and earnest and straight forward but also just so not right. He also talks a lot so that’s been a challenge, getting the lines down. But it’s also so much fun, really finding him and channeling him and getting into character.”
Minden already had a background in CrossFit but has added boxing workouts to get into character.
Craig Will has been cast as the messenger. Kevin Crawford, one of the founders of Aumsville Community Theatre, is playing Mr. Jordan, who is in charge of finding another body after Pendleton’s manger Max Levene, played by Sam Tibbits, cremated his body.
Jordan finds the wealthy Jonathan Farnsworth, who is about to be murdered by his wife Julia, played by Allison Reid. While in Farnsworth’s body, Pendleton falls in love with Bette Logan, a naïve, sweet young woman played by Elizabeth Ming.
“This is the first time she’s played the ingenue,” Baker said of Ming. “Everybody wants to play the ingenue until they have to and they realized they have the stupidest lines in the whole play. The fact that Elizabeth is making them work is pretty amazing.
“The girl that has frequently had to play the ingenue and has played the ingenue her whole life is now playing the wicked wife. Allison is stepping outside of her general norm, which is fun. Everybody is kind of playing, not against type, but against usually what they have been cast.”
The rest of the cast includes Dylan Marley (Tony Abbott), Becky Nielson (Mrs. Ames), Chantelle Gemmill (Ann), Kevin Strausbaugh (Inspector Williams), Linda Cashin (First Escort), Kiley Smith (Second Escort), Elijah Rodriguez (Lefty), Edward Stiner (Workman), Dennis Koho (Doctor) and Tim and Jordan Reid as Plainclothesmen.
Strausbaugh, a 2005 McNary graduate, is also helping Baker direct the show.
Doors open 30 minutes prior to the start of the play and parking is free at the Kroc Center.