You may recognize the name of Chris McKerracher as Pipestone Flyer’s witty humorist or the editorial column author who challenges us to think on a weekly basis, but a trip to Calmar, Alberta on a frigid Friday evening proved him to be so much more.
Chris’ latest contribution to the artistic community was his three act stage play, “A Little Dickens On The Air,” performed by the talented cast of the Calmar Prairie Players whose on stage antics and facial expressions brought a continuous chuckle from the smaller than hoped for crowd who braved the -28c evening to attend.
Set in an era when television threatened the popularity of radio shows, a local voice cast was to perform a live on-air rendition of Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’, fearing it would be the final performance before their show was canceled. Unfortunately, some of the cast was waylaid in a bar, the self-proclaimed star of the show (Lance Boyle played by Keith Froese) becomes indignant of the apparent lack of respect for his abilities and walks off the show with his girlfriend, and another key voice actor (Ronald, played by Chris McKerracher) arrives on the scene late, drunk and in desperate need of a bathroom.
Driven by the need for the show to go on, Buddy (played by Mike Keindel), an optimist who has, “a perfect face for radio” rallies a rag tag cast to fill in. Joining a staggering Ronald and Doris Knight, ‘a fading star’ (played by Angie Podgurney) was the sound booth gal Leslie (played by Trish Fleming in her first role ever), Buddy’s ‘sist-ah’ Clara (Leah Keller) who takes over the foley gig, and Betty, the swooning gal who has eyes for Buddy (played by Tammy Bateman).
This clever and comical play helped initiate the Christmas season as it fully recounted the Christmas Carol script being told in quite good accented voices, the product of the drama troupe’s hard work, practice and involvement of a voice coach.
What truly is remarkable was their ability to keep the story going despite the antics of the cast behind the readers. The voice cast, assuming it to be their final ride, takes up sneaking snorts of Ronald’s multiple flasks throughout the show, despite their German station owner Mrs. Nettle’s stern warnings (played by Angela Jahnke), slowly becoming more and more inebriated, and comical. Despite the flirting, snorting, giggling and even more drinking, the show pushed on to completion, and to the surprise of everyone, had the highest number of listeners ever, forcing Mrs. Nettle to agree to another year of work.
Chris and the Calmar Prairie Players are to be commended on a good and entertaining show. With the poor weather hurting attendance as bad as it did, Chris commented it was, “very disappointing for the club, but not as much for the cast. We still had a great time rehearsing and performing.”
Pictured: L to R – Doris Knight (Angie Podgurney), Ronald (Chris McKerracher) and Buddy (Mike Keindel) Photos by Ken Mathias