by Jeremy Griffith
The American Millennium Online
Most of the time on this blog I comment on politics or the news. Today I want to share something fun: a review of a small town melodrama I just observed, “One Bad Apple” or “Rotten to the Core”.
This past Saturday and Sunday the small town of Mantorville, Minnesota is hosting its annual summer festival, Marigold Days. There is fireworks, a craft show, a dance and lots of food vendors. It’s a good time. In conjunction with the festival the Mantorville Theater Company is presenting a humorous little melodrama staring local actors at the Mantorville Opera House. “One Bad Apple” or “Rotten to the Core” is written and directed by Sandra Hennings Miller and is accompanied by the piano music of Levi Livingood.
The script is campy and the amateurish actors occasionally flub a line but I found that all of that and the historic setting of the old opera house added to the charm of the event. For the same price as a movie, you can enjoy a more interactive form of entertainment where people don’t mind that you talk in the theater and the actors actually encourage it. Booing and hissing, cheering and jeering is allowed and encouraged.
The plot opens like this: Rose Blossom (played by Doreen Colman) is an apple grower who has a secret recipe for a treat she calls apple blossom. She has been selling her wares to a German lord, Baron Von Fritter (played by Jacob Quam), who will stop at nothing to have that recipe which he hopes to sell to pay his debts. Fritter is an evil and “core” upt merchant (I told you it was campy) who plans a visit to the Blossom farm where he plans to steal the recipe in any way he can.
Meanwhile, there is an underlying love story between protagonists John Macintosh, a neighbor boy played by Ben Peters and Rose’s daughter Cherry Blossom played by Missy Mills. The boy is an amateur detective and figures out something is amiss with the visiting baron. He learns that another member of royalty, Baroness Von Meter (Cindy Saunders), is also coming and she is an adversary of the baron. She feels that the baron is a swindle and she has been chasing him all over Europe to expose him for a fraud.
Other supporting cast included an apple seller played by Mikala Metzger who will quiz you on your knowledge of apples, Rose’s brother Uncle Wally, who is the handyman, busy body Prudence Newit, played by Laurel A. Panser and Harry Coleman as Fritter’s secretary Herr Schnitzel.
Notable performances in the melodrama include those of villain Jacob Quam as Fritter and the busy body Newit played by Panser. Quam is well cast and delectably evil, while Panser provides comic relief throughout the play. Several characters sing solos during the performance including these two. The tunes you may recognize but the words have been changed to fit the plot. Panser’s death scene is the funniest part of the play, worth the price of admission! I won’t give the end away, but here’s a clue: it involves poisoned apple cider! Who knew you could include the word uvula in a dying soliloquy? Compliments to the scriptwriter!
Nobody is going to get an Oscar for their performances for this little melodrama, but if you are eager to escape the normal fare of bloody, violent, over-sexed television and movies, this is an enjoyable option! You get to yell at the actors during the play, and rather than a curtain call, they greet you outside on the street after the show where you can shower them with praise or disdain as they deserve. All of the cast members were great to meet.
The show runs through September 15. For information on this and other performances, visit the website at http://mantorvillain.com/index.htm.