POS Scores with new production

Published 11:15 pm Saturday, October 6, 2007

Not perhaps known for its cultural events, one group of determined individuals are working hard to put Picayune on the map.

The Oldest Living Graduate, Picayune on Stage’s latest undertaking, was written by Preston Jones in 1974. The original production opened September 23, 1976 on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York, and in April of 1980 it was filmed for NBC’s primetime with an all star cast headed by Henry Fonda.

Set in Bradleyville, Texas in the summer of 1962, Preston’s play centers around the curmudgeonly Colonel Kincaid who loves to tell stories and reminisce about the first world war, and women. However, his memories of his deceased son serve only to further fuel the rift between him and his other son, Floyd Kincaid, who works just a tad too hard to gain his father’s approval. Floyd would also love to get his hands on his father’s land so that he can develop it into “Mumford County Estates”, the money making scheme he has cooked up with the neighboring land owner Clarence Sickenger.

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In it’s production, Picayune on Stage delivers performances that breathe life and humanness into some very stereotypical characters.

Martin Booda gives a heart to the ill-tempered, crusty Colonel in his interpretation of the title role. His best moments come when he reveals the softer side of the man in his moments of clarity and discovery.

Tara Poolson also deserves praise for her role as the Colonel’s unwilling ally, Maureen Kinkaid. She beautifully portrays the struggle of a wife who must honor her husband’s needs and wishes while defending her aging father-in-law, a man who she greatly, albeit secretly, respects.

For his role as the Colonel’s son, Floyd Kincaid, R. Lane Reynolds helps the audience feel the struggle of a man who so desperately needs his father’s approval but will obviously not let lack-there-of stand in his way.

Cadet Whopper Turnbull, played by both Austin Williams and Josh Chatelain alternately, lends a great comedic turn as the impressionable young military student who gets his turn listening to the colorful Colonel proving once again there are no small parts.

Other cast standouts include the gossipy hen Martha Ann Sickenger played by Kourtney Scheel, and her oily business man husband Clarence Sickenger played by Pat Rutherford. Jon-Paul Brown does a respectable job as Major Leroy W. Ketchum. The Colonel’s Nurse, played by Marie Raburn, and his empathetic friend and farmhand Mark Tremaine played by Nicholuas Chatelain, who is the only one who seems to truly enjoy hearing the Colonel’s tales of war and the women he wooed, both contribute to round out this ensemble cast.

Directors Gladys Huges and Shannon Catoire created interesting stage pictures, and kept this play moving at a great pace.

In its new home on Canal Street, Picayune on Stage provides an intimate setting helping to engage in the production with a non-existant fourth wall helping to draw the audience into the action.

The Oldest Living Graduate runs till October 14 and seats are still available for select performances. Come out and support our local theatre group and contribute to its mission.