Escanaba in Da Moonlight Presented by the Visalia Players

Nov 15, 2018 | 2018 Articles, Theatre

by Nancy Holley

Special KRL coupon code at the end of this article.

Escanaba in Da Moonlight gives theatregoers a night of rollicking merriment and an opportunity to glimpse life in Upper Peninsula, Michigan — heavily forested, often a bit strange, and perfect for deer hunting.

The Soadys have prided themselves in their deer hunting prowess for generations. Records show when each male member bagged his first buck. No one wants to be the oldest male to achieve this honor, but Reuben Soady is rapidly approaching that status. His luck has been so bad that other hunters don’t want him nearby as they stalk the mighty stags; they fear his karma may rub off on them.


Chad R Homan as Albert and Aaron Johnson as Reuben

As the play opens, the family males, father and two sons, have once again come to their cabin in the wild to bag bucks. Accompanying them is their friend Jimmy “The Jimmer” Negamanee, who was abducted by aliens and when he returned was “different.” Add to the mix a Department of Natural Resources Ranger Tom, whom they don’t trust, and who has seen God on the ridge, along with Ruben’s Native American wife, Wolf Moon Dance, and you have the perfect combination for madcap hilarity.

Co-directors Belva and David Peden have loved the farce since they first saw it in Sacramento. Belva commented, “With farce, you have to find the improbable and make it come alive on stage. It is pure entertainment.”

In discussing his role as Reuben, Aaron Johnson noted, “One of the challenges was understanding some of the lingo. I did a little research to learn more about the Upper Peninsula.” Johnson is excited about the opportunity to do farce, getting away from more serious roles.

Chad R. Homan, who portrays Albert, the father, is enjoying his time at the Ice House in between films. In describing his sons, Reuben and Remnar, he explained, “my wife gave me a couple of wonderful boys even if they aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed.” Homan’s love of farce stems from allowing him to act in ways that he can’t in normal life.


Aaron Johnson as Reuben and Hank Boone as Remnar

A newcomer to the Visalia Players and the Ice House Theatre, Hank Boone, as Remnar Soady, is honing skills acquired through the theatre program at COS. Boone noted, “Remnar has already snagged his first buck. Reuben has to break many traditions to get his. His hunting skills are limited.”

Returning to the Players after a hiatus, Donald Ajluni is having a wonderful time as The Jimmer. “He is such a crazy character and so much fun to play. It’s as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.” Being abducted by aliens has left Jimmer with speech issues so others frequently have to interpret what he is trying to say.

Playing a very different role from Col. Jessup in A Few Good Men, John Olmos is reveling in his portrayal of Ranger Tom. “Initially he is perceived to be a normal park ranger, but when he starts to talk his character morphs into something very strange.”

The Pedens are ably supported by Assistant Director Christina Enquist, who also has the role of Wolf Moon Dance. Enquist is multi-talented as an actor, director, and writer. She comments, “Wolf Moon Dance loves her husband and wants to help him snag his buck. She does so with potions and incantations.”


Christina Enquist as Wolf Moon Dance, Aaron Johnson as Reuben, and Donald Ajluni as Jimmer

The cast and directors emphasize the fun the audience will have watching Escanaba in Da Moonlight. Ajluni’s thought is typical, “A night of absolute raucous fun is the best therapy we can have in our world of chaos.”

Escanaba in Da Moonlight opens at the Ice House Theatre at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, November 16, 2018, and runs for three weekends with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on 11/16, 11/17, 11/23, 11/24, 11/30, and 12/1, and matinees at 2 p.m. on 11/18, 11/25, and 12/2.

For more information about the Visalia Community Players and to purchase tickets, check out their website and KRL’s article about VCP. Tickets may also be purchased by calling 734-3900. For details about local arts groups in Tulare County, visit the Visalia Arts Consortium website.

Check out even more local theatre reviews & articles in our Arts & Entertainment section!

To purchase two tickets for the price of one, enter KRLEDM in the Have a code? box on the Buy/Redeem Tickets Reservation page via the Players website.

If you love local theatre, be sure to check out our new Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. The first 9 episodes are now up! You can check the podcast out on iTunes and Google Play, and also on podbean.

Nancy Holley has been involved in the Visalia Community Players off and on since the 1970s, both as a director and actor. In 2010, she retired from 25 years as a software consultant and has since expanded her role at the Players. She is now Membership Chairman and assists with the Players on-line ticketing system.


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