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Female Follies: Whitlow-Greenwood makes comedic debut with 'Strawberry Ridge'

Friday, July 19, 2013

Director Roseanna Whitlow-Greenwood watches the rehearsal of the River City Players’ production of the play, “Strawberry Ridge,” on Thursday at Port Cape Girardeau. Whitlow-Greenwood wrote the summer comedy.
(Adam Vogler) [Order this photo]
The River City Players will present their summer comedy "Strawberry Ridge," written and directed by Dr. Roseanna Whitlow-Greenwood, from Thursday through July 28 at Port Cape Girardeau.

"The play is a silly, sentimental Southern comedy," said Whitlow-Greenwood, a professor of communication studies at Southeast Missouri State University. "Its underlying theme is eminent domain, of all things."

While eminent domain may not be the most amusing subject, it's crucial to the storyline of "Strawberry Ridge." In the play, four very different ex-wives of a man named Fisk Dixon are summoned one afternoon by their former mother-in-law to help get Fisk out of a "fix." Fisk has climbed up a tree and resorted to throwing rocks and bottles at a bulldozer and the police in an attempt to keep the city from taking his strawberry field so a discount store can be built.

"The ex-wives don't particularly like each other, and they have different personalities," Whitlow-Greenwood said. "I think the personalities will be recognizable to a lot of audience members."

The four wives are indeed a motley bunch. Jeni, Fisk's first wife, is considered "the good one" by all; Meera, the second wife, is attractive but rough-looking and spends time in bars; Darlene, the third wife, is stylish in her maternity outfit and always connected to a cellphone; and Sara Lee, the fourth wife, is lovely and sweet but "dumb as a load of corn."

Assistant director Eva Trunzo, left, with the cast of the River City Players’ production of “Strawberry Ridge,” Brooke Hildebrand, Tanna Howard, Holly Raines and Brenda Ferguson.
(Adam Vogler)
"The play is driven by the women," Whitlow-Greenwood said. "Their problems with Fisk and past events and emotions are revealed during the play. Some old wounds are healed, and some new ones are almost inflicted."

Whitlow-Greenwood said "Strawberry Ridge" took her about five years to complete.

"The story is fictional, but eminent domain is an issue that has always bothered me," she said. "I wanted to write something about it, and over time I would write down ideas on envelopes, grocery bags or whatever was handy."

Whitlow-Greenwood said there's a natural feel in her relationship with the cast.

"We have the most amazing cast," she said. "It feels like I've worked with them forever."

Tana Howard, who portrays Meera, said her character isn't very nice.

"She's the party girl who says what she thinks," Howard said. "The second wife is usually that way."

Howard, of Cape Girardeau, said she was asked by Whitlow-Greenwood to audition for her play.

"I jumped at the chance," she said. "I didn't need to read the script to know that anything Roseanna does is wonderful."

"Strawberry Ridge" is Whitlow-Greenwood's first comedy but not her first attempt at playwriting. She has written original shows for the William Faulkner Conference at Southeast, and the last play she wrote, "Thistle Blossoms," was written for the University Players.

Opening night for the River City Players' production of "Strawberry Ridge" is a dessert-buffet show scheduled for Thursday. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with the play beginning at 7 p.m. Admission is $20 for the dessert-buffet show. The dinner-theater shows are July 26 and 27, with doors opening at 7 p.m. and the play beginning at 8 p.m. both nights. The cost of admission, which includes a full buffet and dessert, is $35. A matinee dessert-buffet show is scheduled for July 28, with doors opening at 1:30 p.m. and the show starting at 2 p.m. Admission for the matinee dessert-buffet show is $20.

To book reservations for "Strawberry Ridge," contact Port Cape Girardeau at 334-0954.



Pertinent address:

19 N. Water St., Cape Girardeau, MO

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"Strawberry Ridge" performances will not have show-only option

In an attempt to attract more patrons to their performances at Port Cape Girardeau, the River City Players have made changes for their production of “Strawberry Ridge,” scheduled to run from Thursday through July 28.

“Opening night will be a dessert-buffet performance, unlike the ‘show-only’ opening nights we’ve had before,” said Deb Barnhouse, president of the River City Players. “In fact, there won’t be any ‘show-only’ admissions for the performances. It costs $20 for the dessert-buffet show, but we think that will help bring people in.”

Barnhouse said there also will be only two dinner-theater shows for “Strawberry Ridge,” which are scheduled for July 26 and 27.

“We did that because attendance was down during our production of ‘Rumours’ in May,” she said. “That was likely due to the economy. We lost money on the performance, and only our faithful audience members attended.”

Barnhouse said she is hopeful attendance will increase for “Strawberry Ridge.”

“The ship’s not sunk,” she said. “We’re doing everything we can to keep us going. But I think it would be a shame for Cape to lose its only community theater troupe.”     

To book reservations for “Strawberry Ridge,” contact Port Cape Girardeau at 334-0954.

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