Uwharrie Players presents divine comedy ‘Down to Earth’

The Uwharrie Players return Friday for the start of its spring production, a screwball comedy titled “Down to Earth.”

The play, written by Bettye Knapp in 1952, centers around two angels, Agnes and Winifred, coming to Earth to pick up two elderly souls: Augusta Applegate, a tyrannical and miserly old lady and her neighbor, and Herman Howelland, an old man with nothing but love for his cat and his flowers to cheer him, according to a short synopsis on The Uwharrie Players’ website.

Joining the two angels on their journey is their one-winged apprentice, Pilone, a master of mischief with a big heart, who has a knack for making people fall in love.

Director James Cotton brought the show to the organization after watching a rendition of it in South Carolina in 2020 shortly before the pandemic.

“I just loved it,” he said. “It was a funny show. It has a nice message that still works, especially for something that was written in the early ‘50s,” Cotton said.

A Uwharrie Players veteran, Cotton has been seen on stage with the group for more than two decades in productions such as “Grease,” “The Boys Next Door,” “12 Angry Men,” “Dearly Departed” and “The Curious Savage.”

While acknowledging the production is not as well-known as some of the Players’ previous shows, Cotton said he has been encouraging the actors to “do some new things, not always the same show over and over again.”

“Down to Earth” will include slapstick humor along with a type of farce “where the wrong person falls in love with the other wrong person, and that has to get corrected over the course of the story,” Cotton said.

The production features a diverse cast, ranging from an actor in high school to performers in their 70s.

“It’s a pretty wide range of ages,” Cotton said.

The ensemble, which consists of 12 actors, has been rehearsing since early March. They include: Nancy Cottingham as Agnes; Debbie Williams as Winifred; Todd Basinger as Pilone; Lynne Hancock as Augusta Applegate; Herschelle Smith as Diana Clump; Lacey Whittaker as Orpha Teel; Ava Mae Anderson as Ruthie Teel; Marnie Nicholson as Millie Bromsley; Steve Forster as Baxter Bromsley; Sarah Tysinger as June Bromsley; Tommy Johnson as Herman Howell; and Tyler Poplin as Richard White and Robert Hanley. 

The play, which will last about two hours, including a 15-minute intermission, opens at 7:30 p.m. April 21-22 and April 28-29 at the Albemarle Neighborhood Theatre. It’s also showing at 3 p.m. April 23 and 30.

Tickets can be purchased online and also at the door on show dates. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for people 18 and under and seniors (60 and up).

The 2023 season will feature two other productions: “Bright Star” in the summer and “Honky Tonk Angels” in the fall.