West Stanly Players return to stage to celebrate 50th anniversary

Published 2:52 pm Thursday, April 29, 2021

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The West Stanly Players are happy to announce their return to the stage after missing the 2020 spring and fall productions due to Covid-19. The return is just in time to celebrate 50 years on stage.

To celebrate this milestone the Players will present the comedy classic “Daddy’s Dyin’, Who’s Got the Will,” first presented at WSHS in 1991.

“We are very excited not only to be returning to the stage, but to also pay tribute to an audience favorite from the past,” says WSP director Wes Tucker. “It is especially meaningful for me because this is the same show I starred in 30 years ago when I was a student at WSHS.”

The West Stanly Players were founded in 1970 by James D. Kennedy, who directed the Players from 1970 until his retirement in 1997, when Tucker took his place in the directing chair.

This comedy follows the Turnover family of Lowake, Texas. The family has returned home to try to settle their dying father’s affairs and to attempt to mend old wounds. The problem is, he has misplaced his will
and the children are in a frenzy to find it, while constantly bickering about who wronged whom in the past.

The production features a host of actors, both veterans and newcomers to the WSP stage. Senior Cat Laws leads the ensemble cast as the spinsterish Sara Lee. She is joined by her good for nothing brother, Orville (senior Toby Troxler) and his diet obsessed wife Marlene (senior Shayla Grismer); their sister, country singer wannabe Evalita (senior Shelby Hinson) and her hippie boyfriend Harmony (senior Jamison Hilliard); and the estranged oldest sister and preacher’s wife Lurlene (junior Sophie Tucker). Capping off the cast is the sharp-tongued grandmother, Mama Wheelis (senior Baylee Woodall) and the loving but often confused daddy, Buford (junior Eli Smith).

“During Covid-19 we have all had to spend maybe a little too much time with our families, and although we love them, we have found out they often may drive us crazy,” Tucker said. “ ‘Daddy’s Dyin’ ’ gives us the chance to laugh at someone else’s family as they struggle to keep the peace.”

In addition, the night will also pay tribute to two more past WSP shows with short scenes from 1992’s “Steel Magnolias” and 1972 and 1993’s “Picnic”/“Summer Brave.” Those two scenes feature many actors making their WSP debut. Featured performers are senior Sunshine Chastain; juniors Merci Bursell and Kelsy Hinson; sophomores Sydney Marks, Taylor Thompson and Brooke Tomberlin; and freshmen Raegan Sharpe and Megan McLary.

Although the show will go on, the Players have put in safety measures to keep the audience and actors safe. Masks will be worn and to help with social distancing, every other row will be blocked off. This will keep audience members six feet apart as well as reduce the theatre to 50 percent occupancy.

“Daddy’s Dyin’ Who’s Got the Will” runs May 7, 8, 14 and 15 at 7 p.m. and May 9 at 2:30 p.m. in the West Stanly Players Theatre at WSHS. Tickets are $10 each and may be purchased from any West Stanly Player or by calling April at 704-791-3200.