Curtain Call Theatre enters state festival

The cast of Curtain Call Theatre’s “The Great Nursing Home Escape”, which will be an entry in the Minnesota Association of Community Theatre, includes (front, from left) Lauren Brooks, Rebecca Simon, Dylan Vilt, (back) Adam Pankow, Ava Hart, Amber Simon, Carly Berglund, Annabelle Daleiden and Kyle Yetzer. Not pictured: Alex Gregory. (Lori Nickel Photo)


Curtain Call Theatre has been entertaining audiences in the Montgomery, Lonsdale, New Prague area for 19 years. On March 16, the theatre group will perform its first entry in The Minnesota Association of Community Theatre (MACT).
MACT presents an adjudicated play festival in odd numbered years for 10 community theatre companies from across Minnesota. The productions are not full-length pieces, and must follow certain rules: 
• Productions can be cuttings from full-length play or musical.
• Productions cannot exceed 60 minutes. A total of 10 minutes are allowed for each setup and set strike.
• The set must fit into a 10-foot-by-10-foot space.
The play Curtain Call is presenting is “The Great Nursing Home Escape”.  Veteran Curtain Call Director Andy Velishek has been rehearsing since December with his cast, Kyle Yetzer, Amber Simon, Annabelle Daleiden, Carly Berglund, Adam Pankow, Becca Simon, Lauren Brooks and Dylan Vilt. 
The play is about a locked-down nursing home, and during the dead of night, its residents attempt the greatest escape ever. Audiences will join this misfit band of “inmates” as they hatch a master plan to escape their dreary nursing home and find something far more important than a baseball game – they find their youth. 
Velishek said he chose the play because it is a great contrast to the youth who play the roles of older people.
“This creates a great challenge for the kids to build a character that is unlike who they really are in real life,” he said. “I have done some improvisational activities with some of the kids during prior Curtain Call shows and the kids have attempted playing elderly people and shown great  promise in their skills. And the show seemed to play well on societal beliefs about what happens in a nursing home, adding some great humor and outrageous action.” 
While there are some limitations to the production, Velishek said directing it hasn’t been very different from full shows that he has directed before. Only with the MACT Fest show, he is focusing more heavily on developing very specific characters.
“We identified specific quirks and movements that make each character unique and spent much more time making the actor consistently showcase those character qualities,” he said.
Velishek said the biggest challenge to the production is that the whole group is new to the MACT process. Luckily, Curtain Call has a board member, Larry Pint, who has served on the MACT Board of Directors for several years and was able to give Velishek and the cast some insight.
The MACT Fest will be March 14 to 17 at North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park. In addition to Curtain Call, other theatre groups from Minneapolis, Cloquet, Lakeville, Stillwater, Burnsville, Northfield, Duluth, and Dassel-Cokato will participate. Curtain Call’s performance will be on Saturday, March 16, in the afternoon session, which starts at 12:30 p.m.
The two winners of the MACT Fest will advance to the Region V festival, this year in Fargo, N.D.