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Comic thriller is Hawkeye Theatre’s newest

Dessert fare to be served at play, which opens Oct. 16

October 9, 2011
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

It's possible to laugh at death.

A night spent with the Hawkeye Community Theatre will prove that.

The comic thriller "When the Reaper Calls" opens with a 2 p.m. matinee Oct. 16, continuing at 7 p.m. Oct. 17 through 22 at the theater on North 12th Street.

Article Photos

-Messenger photo by Sandy Mickelson
Watching your husband sweet-talk another woman can be unnerving, as shown by Renee Piper, left, who plays Dora Pierce in the Hawkeye Community Theatre production of “When the Reaper Calls,” which opens with a matinee on Oct. 16. Her husband, Victor Pierce, is played by Jim Von Dolteren, and the object of his affection in this comic thriller is Colleen Branstater, played by Mari Newman. Jeff Bluml directs.

The play "follows two young philosophy professors who are rivals over the question: 'Is there life after death?' and how it affects the way people should lead their lives," said play director Jeff Bluml, of Fort Dodge. "The rivalry results in infidelity, murder and a lot of laughs."

Bluml's role in theater productions most often has him creating sets, which he does for this show, too. He also directs a cast of five. In order of appearance, they are Jim Von Dolteren, Pomeroy; Mari Newman, Fort Dodge; Renee Piper, Fort Dodge; Mark Galbraith, Pomeroy; and Katelyn Helgevold, Fort Dodge.

By naming them in order of appearance, he never makes one more important than the other, and that's what he prefers. It's a small group who agree the best part of the work is working with one another.

Fact Box

If you go:

WHO: Hawkeye Community Theatre.

WHAT: Comic thriller "When the Reaper Calls."

WHEN: 2 p.m. matinee Oct. 16; 7 p.m. shows Oct. 17 through 22.

WHERE: Hawkeye Community Theatre, 521 N. 12th St.

TICKETS: $15 for adults; $10 for seniors and students. Available at the door.

DESSERT will be offered by the Xi Delta Epsilon chapter of Beta Sigma Phi, including pies, cakes and more, with coffee, apple cider and water.

INFORMATION is available at 576-6061 or at www.hawkeyetheatre. com.

"I've heard stories, but it's different when you're doing it," Newman said.

In her first play since she was 15 - that was 14 years ago - she leaves two young children at home during rehearsals and spends their nap time reading and rereading the script and her lines.

"I wanted to see if I could do it," Newman said. "It looked like fun."

"When the Reaper Calls" is the first Hawkeye show for Piper, who has done community theater in Council Bluffs, though "it's been a real long time. I just thought was was time to do something fun."

She said the script, by Canadian playwright Peter Colley, "is kind of high-brow writing. They talk about things I learned in graduate school. It's not normal talking - it's intellectual."

When she heard the call for auditions, she said, "I just wanted to come play. We work real well together, and we work hard, but we do have a lot of laughs."

Von Dolteren acted in "Arsenic and Old Lace" in June, he said, but he must play it straight in "When the Reaper Calls" - no goofiness.

He said he met Bluml in June. "He'd told me about this play. It sounded real interesting. The hardest part is not being goofy all the time. I was the dog, and I caught the car."

Looking around the stage, Von Dolteren said, "It hasn't been difficult. Jeff's real good to work with. Even though we're a small cast, we play off each other real well."

Rehearsals for "When the Reaper Calls" started in early September, Bluml said.

"It does take a tremendous amount of time," he said. "You're giving up two months of your life. It gets to the point if you practice too much, it becomes unproductive."

But right now, he said, everything is going well.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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