After a 19-year absence, the annual Abercrombie Melodrama is returning.
“Wash Your Troubles Away, or … Dirty Deeds Come Clean” will be performed beginning Friday, Aug. 12 at the Abercrombie Community Center, Abercrombie, North Dakota. Performances are scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 14.
“We have a lot of talent in our community,” said Jackie Hovind, who co-directs “Wash Your Troubles Away” with her husband, Dylan. “I think the most important thing is seeing our cast members out of their normal, everyday jobs and being excellent in ways we might never have thought they could be.”
Sierra McKeever is the new music teacher at Richland 44 Elementary School, Abercrombie. She plays Sweet Sally, one of the proprietors of the Tub and Scrub Laundry in Digalittledeeper.
“I thought this would be a good way to start to get to know some people,” McKeever said. “Rehearsals have been wonderful. We have a good group of people and we laugh all the time.”
Digalittledeeper is located amid the gold rush, when there were ample opportunities for finding true love or perfecting a scheme. Revealing more of the plot would spoil too many surprises.
Amy Lee Lehmann, who acts opposite her colleague and friend Nathan Berseth, is proud of the Abercrombie Melodrama’s return. The original melodramas were the invention of the late Rich Holm, who served as their longtime director. The melodramas were already well-established by the time Lee Lehmann joined in 1983 and they continued on until 2003.
“I just love that it gives small town people the chance to act,” Lee Lehmann said. “We have three young girls in here and they were just so excited to be a part of this. We revived the melodrama to bring our community together for a fun community event.”
McKinley Nygren, Lucy Hermunslie and Alivia Viland play the three waifs of Digalittledeeper, young Peggy, Irma and Little Lavania. The trio of new actresses are having a fun time preparing for “Wash Your Troubles Away,” even if old time laundering is a new experience.
“I normally do my laundry at home, but I’ve never done it like this before,” Nygren said.
Viland said it is fun to know that she is one of the people getting to bring back the Abercrombie Melodrama.
“It’s really fun, and also that you get to bring your own personality in,” Hermunslie said.
Also in the cast, in order of appearance, are Dana Betz, Shawn Paczkowski, Austin Heyen, Carrie Johnson, Ashley Riel and Todd Holdman. The production features Evonne Viland as a pianist.
“We have a serious story, but there is a lot of comedy twisted into it,” Jackie Hovind said. “I grew up going to these melodramas. My mom was in them and I remember going to the practices at Rich Holm’s farm. It’s kind of surreal to be bringing them back, but also fun to work with my husband on the direction and with my mom, who has the knowledge of the Abercrombie Melodrama.”
Tickets for “Wash Your Troubles Away” are $10 each. A portion of the revenue from ticket sales, as well as the proceeds of a freewill offering, has been allocated to Evie Hermunslie and her family, residents of rural Abercrombie. The money is intended to help defray the costs associated with her extended, out of state hospital stay.
“Wash Your Troubles Away” tickets can be purchased Saturday, Aug. 6 during the Aber Days celebration and from 6:30-8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7 and Wednesday, Aug. 10 at the Abercrombie Community Center, 516 Broadway in Abercrombie. Buying tickets in advance is advised, as specific seats or availability may not be guaranteed on the day of a performance.
“Wash Your Troubles Away” is a Fort Abercrombie Theater production. The show features a book by Tim Kelly, music by Arne Christiansen and lyrics by Ole Kittleson.
“We have some people who have never acted before, some who have never sang and some that have done a lot of theater,” Lee Lehmann said. “There is a nice big mix. The Abercrombie Melodrama has always been something to get folks together. The community is really looking forward to it.”
For additional information, call Hovind at 701-899-2775 or Lehmann at 701-640-9785.