Alpena Civic Theatre’s first show of 2018 opens today

Photo Courtesy of Bronwyn Woolman Appearing in Alpena Civic Theatre’s latest production, “Stirrups,” are front row left, Cameron Meicher, Amelia Berles and Ashley Cotton; and back row left, Doreen Kriniak, Marlo Broad, Kalvin Shiemke, Ted Rockwell, Curt Hampton, Linda Suneson and Amanda Hulsey.

When first time playwright Stacey Powells last year embarked on a cross-country drive from her home in California to visit a son in college on the East Coast, she took the opportunity to multi-task along the way. She brought copies of her new play, “Stirrups,” and dropped them off in person at community theaters she’d looked up in advance in the various states she traveled through.

One of those theaters happened to be Alpena Civic Theatre, where Director Julie Meyers liked what she read and decided to mount the show as ACT’s first offering of the new year.

“It’s truly a women’s story and is really funny,” said Meyers, recalling the interaction she had with the playwright after deciding to do “Stirrups.”

Since only the playwright’s name and telephone number were listed on the script, Meyers called and directly talked with Powells. It turned out to be a bit of a learning curve for the novice playwright.

“I asked her about the rights to the show and how much they were. She said she didn’t know,” Meyers said.

Meyers threw out a figure and Powells agreed to it. Next came the subject of a contract, which Meyers helped the playwright put together and then signed.

“We’re only the second or third theater to do this show,” Meyers said, adding that Powells hopes to return to Alpena to see her show performed here sometime during the two-week run. “We talked a little bit and I learned that she wrote it as a way to promote women’s health and to bring focus to the need for free women’s health clinics.”

Still, it’s a comedy and one about a mother who takes her 15-year-old daughter, Elyse, to her first gynecologist appointment with the new doctor on the block, Dr. Steve Sheldon. He continues as her doctor over the course of the next 50 years during which Elyse discloses intimate details of her life to Dr. Sheldon and to “wanna-be comedian” Nurse Carol.

Bits and pieces of all their lives begin to unravel. Pregnancy, divorce, menopause and eventually a disease that slowly deteriorates the doctor whom Elyse has grown to adore and trust take place around the office.

“It’s the stage version of a chick flick,” Meyers said. “Women should go out with their girlfriends for dinner, have a few glasses of wine and then come see the show. It all takes place in a gynecology office so there are lots of jokes.”

“Stirrups” opens today and features 10 actors, including Amelia Berles as the 15-year-old Elyse and Amanda Hulsey as her older version. Curt Hampton plays the younger version of Dr. Sheldon, while Ted Rockwell is cast as the older doctor.

Several of the performers play multiple roles, including Marlo Broad as Elyse’s mother, Beatrice, as well as two other smaller roles. Linda Suneson plays the medical office receptionist and also an older hippie chick named Diane Reynolds. Others cast in the production are Ashley Cotton as the younger hippie chick, Doreen Kriniak as Nurse Carol, Cameron Meicher as a receptionist and Kalvin Scheimke as Dr. Robert.

The set looks right out of a gynecologist’s office, complete with an exam table and the prerequisite stirrups. Healthwise Medical Center lent ACT numerous items to complete the look.

Helping Meyers as assistant director is Diane Lozen. Jay Kettler designed the lighting, Carol Rundell took charge of props, and Scott Edgar runs the lights and sound board.

The show does contain some adult language and adult themes, making it recommended for ages 15 and older. Run dates are Jan. 11-14 and Jan. 18-21 with performances on Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

“It’s a unique way to come across a play, but it’s a testament to local community theatre that a person from half a country away down drive here and drop it off,” Meyers said. “It’s very funny.”

For reservations, contact the ACT box office at 354-3624.