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'Egg' speaks to its audience

Thursday, July 28, 2005

(Photo)
Poultry farmer Mr. Mannix, right, played by Cole Jenkins, explained to Betty and Don MacDonald, played by Rachel Roggow and Jonathan Long, some of the hard work involved in raising chickens during a scene in St. Vincent de Paul Youth Group's production of "The Egg and I" on Wednesday.
When cosmopolitan urbanites move to the country, their trials and hysterical freakouts can create some funny situations, and memorable caricatures of both city and country folk.

This year's annual summer production by the St. Vincent de Paul Youth Group, "The Egg and I," follows in that vein and appeals to the values of rural life -- family, hard work and perseverance. The result is an amateur production that speaks to the sensibilities of its intended audience, which is the Southeast Missouri family.

"The Egg and I" is the 14th annual production sponsored by the youth group, which allows teenagers from around the area, even those not affiliated with the church, to cut their teeth on theater. Dozens of students in production crews and acting work from nearly the end of school until late July creating a family friendly performance.

"The Egg and I" tells the story of the MacDonalds, a family from Seattle with two teenage girls who move to a chicken farm in the Olympic Mountains to escape city life.

While the father, Don, played by Jonathan Long, embraces the new lifestyle, the wife and children start out entirely too "sophisticated" to deal with the menial labors of farm work. After all, this is a progressive family where everyone calls each other by first name.

Rachel Roggow is convincing in the part of a high-society woman relegated to a new life of toil as Betty MacDonald. She takes the pains of the new life -- no running water and little electricity -- in stride but finally breaks down in the end.

At the same time, the teen drama played out by daughters Anne and Joan, played by Joelle Trower and Carly Schneider, respectively, is one any parent of teenagers can both sympathize with and chuckle at.

Both daughters long for the comforts of the city, especially Joan, who is obsessed with her weight and boys. Schneider makes a convincing whiner.

Bit characters that play out quirky country stereotypes provide some good laughs, such as the hypochondriac Delicate Daisy (Chelsea Spaeth) and her husband, the major downer Mr. Mannix (Cole Jenkins).

Detailed sets and costumes add to the down-home atmosphere, making a solid amateur production that ends in a message of redemption, reward and family solidarity.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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Want to go?

* What: "The Egg and I"

* Where: St. Vincent de Paul Parish School

* When: 8 p.m. today (July 28) through Saturday

* Info: 335-7667


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