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‘Pure entertainment’

Hawkeye Community Theatre production of ‘Bull in a China Shop’ opens Oct. 6

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Actresses with the Hawkeye Community Theatre production of "Bull in a China Shop" rehearse on Tuesday evening. From left are Joan Meyer as "Hildegard," Jess Barkhaus as "Lucy" and Heidi Nelson as "Birdie."

After spending three months preparing for opening night of “Bull in a China Shop” at the Hawkeye Community Theatre in March 2020, having to cancel the show just a week before its opening was a devastating blow for its director, Michael Shoopman.

“It was three months of work the cast, crew and myself put into this thing,” he said. “And having to stop just a week before when you’re going through dress rehearsals, it’s just an amazing blow.”

The show’s cancellation was one of the first casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But now, a year and a half later, the theatre is opening its doors once again for thespians and audiences alike as “Bull in a China Shop” opens Oct. 6 and runs through Oct. 9.

Because the actors in the community production have a “multitude of things going on in their own lives,” Shoopman said, not all of the original cast members were able to return for the rescheduled production — he had to recast three roles.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Homicide detective Dennis O'Finn, played by Humboldt's Dana Westphal, has a revalation during a rehearsal of "Bull in a China Shop."

The show itself is “pure entertainment,” the director said.

The play is set in a boarding house for older women who discover a handsome bachelor — homicide detective Dennis O’Finn — living across the street. Eager to get O’Finn’s attention, the sweet little old ladies turn to murder, and the murder weapon is a cup of tea. Will O’Finn be able to see through the ladies’ charm and flattery to solve the case and catch the murderer? You’ll just have to see the show to find out.

“It’s something for people to break the mold of their day-to-day lives and take them into another world just for entertainment,” Shoopman explained. “There’s no significant message or undertow that’s with this show. They can just sit back and relax and laugh and enjoy themselves.”

After 18 months without theatre and performing arts, Shoopman called the return to the stage “freeing.”

“It’s just amazing that you’re finally going to give birth to a thing that you’ve nurtured along and the cast is excited to be back,” he said. “I think people will be excited to come to a show again, as shown by how much they’re going out through all these live events. And I think it’s just going to be wonderful.”

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Joan Meyer as "Hildegard" hands a box of chocolates to Mari Newman as "Jane Rogers" and Dana Westphal as "Dennis O'Finn" during a rehearsal of "Bull in a China Shop."

Shoopman has directed dozens of productions in Fort Dodge over the years and said many of the cast of “Bull in a China Shop” are veteran actors of local stages, and they’re all eager to perform again.

“They’re more than ready to go,” Shoopman said. “It’s like a racehorse, being pinned up and suddenly let go, it’s gonna really show you something.”

Tickets for the shows will be available at the box office at 521 N. 12th St., or online at http://hawkeyetheatre.com. Tickets are $10 each. For more information, call 515-576-6061.

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