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Grassroots Community Theatre presents farce next week

The Grassroots Community Theatre cast of "Til Beth Do Us Part" includes Denise Deitchman (front) and Barb Bakalyar (back, from left), Scott Place, Jeri Sirvony, Sandy Ahlberg and Daryl Hrdlicka. (Julie Buntjer / The Globe)1 / 2
Suzannah Hayden, portrayed by Sandy Ahlberg, reacts to Margo James (Denise Deitchman) as she talks about the male species. (Julie Buntjer / The Globe)2 / 2

WORTHINGTON — In a tale that will teach you to be careful what you wish for, half a dozen thespians are ready to entertain audiences during three performances of “Til Beth Do Us Part” next week at the Worthington Elks Lodge.

The production is bound to produce belly laughs for attendees, according to Grassroots Theatre Director Mary Jane Mardesen.

In a brief synopsis of the play, Mardesen said Suzannah Hayden (played by Sandy Ahlberg) needs help as she tries to climb the corporate ladder selling truffles for an English-based company. The workload is awful and Suzannah gets absolutely no help from her husband, Gibby (portrayed by Daryl Hrdlicka).

“As her frustration mounts, a good friend — Margo James (Denise Deitchman) — suggests she hire an assistant and proceeds to find the perfect person,” Mardesen shared. “The assistant is perfect, too. Beth Bailey (played by Jeri Sirvony) does it all and quite well.”

She’s almost too perfect, though, and Margo and her ex-husband, Hank (portrayed by Scott Place), try to throw a monkey wrench into the whole operation. The only problem is they weren’t expecting a visit from Celia Charmichael (played by Barb Bakalyar), the head of the candy company.

Ahlberg and Hrdlicka are familiar faces on the Grassroots Community Theatre stage, with Deitchman, Place, Sirvony and Bakalyar all newcomers to Worthington’s theatre troupe. All four hail from Jackson County and have been involved in productions there.

“It’s been a director’s dream,” Mardesen said of the cast. The four from Jackson County did this same play two years ago, with two of them acting in the same part.

“They pick up things, they’re cooperative, they’re creative,” Mardesen said. “They’re compliant, not to mention talented.”

Deitchman, who hails from Lakefield, said she really wanted to be Margo two years ago, when the Jackson County Arts Guild did the production. Instead, she was cast as Suzannah. Now she gets to portray Margo, and she’s having a lot of fun with it.

“This group is just crazy fun and creative and open to new ideas,” she said. “I get to do Margo’s version of a Flamingo dance, using the word ‘dance’ loosely.”

Deitchman said, “It’s easy to get into character, but she’s very unlike me — she’s snarky.”

Like Deitchman, this is Sirvony’s third year doing theater, and she enjoys the opportunity to be creative and meet new people.

Sirvony portrays Beth, the “devious, sneaky, conniving Belle from Hell” and it’s a role she relishes.

“I was Beth in the play at Jackson two years ago,” Sirvony said and, with a laugh, added, “My husband says this is not acting.

“Beth is a fun part,” she continued. “This has just been a fabulous experience. Mary Jane is absolutely wonderful to work with. She’s encouraged us to be creative. It’s fun to have the freedom to express yourself. She’s encouraged us to go above and beyond what we thought we could do.”

Place has 15 to 20 years of stage experience, but he didn’t begin his acting career until he was about 40 years old.

“Most of us can relate to the middle class issues and problems that are prevalent in this play,” he said.

While Place is portraying Hank Russell for the second time in his career, he said his portrayal of Hank this time around is different.

Those familiar with the Grassroots Community Theater may wonder about the venue. For years, the theater has performed its fall production at Pioneer Village. Moving to the Elks means guests can enjoy the show in a temperature-controlled setting with restrooms and nearby parking.

Performances begin with a 6 p.m. meal of of brats, kraut, cheese soup and German potato salad on Thursday and Friday, with the show to begin at 7 p.m. Saturday’s performance will begin at 10 a.m., with rolls and coffee served from 9 to 10 a.m.

Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Elks Lodge or at Hy-Vee in Worthington.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at The Farm Bleat

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