Get ready to laugh out loud and plan on attending “An Evening of Culture,” presented by the Mesquite Community Theatre Group, opening Friday. The play, a slapstick comedy for all ages, runs this weekend and next for six side-splitting shows of hilarity. Show times and dates are: Friday evening May 13th at 7:00, Saturday, May 14th at 2:00 and Sunday May 15th at 2:00 p.m. Next weekend Friday, May 20th at 7:00 p.m., Saturday May 21st at 2:00 p.m. and Sunday, May 22 at 2:00 p.m. Please note that the Saturday and Sunday shows are matinees only for this particular play. The Mesquite Community Theatre is located at 150 N Yucca St, in Mesquite. The performances run just under two hours. Click here to buy your tickets now!

The play is written by Mark Landon Smith, known for his comedies. Set in a fictional rural southern town “somewhere in the middle of nowhere,” the local theatre group plan to bring a very “cultured” presentation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to the good ol’ country folk of Mineola County. However, it seems absolutely everything goes wrong–and rip-roaring chaos ensues! Not exactly as Shakespeare intended!

I had the opportunity to sit down with director Robert Craig, who has been very active in local theatre, both here in Mesquite as well as in California, where he lived before he and his wife, Joy, moved to Mesquite 2 years ago. Upon my arrival to the theatre, the actors were scurrying about preparing to rehearse in full make-up and costume. One in medieval dress, another wearing a leopard-print bustier and leather mini-skirt; clearly, this play is going to be funny!

Craig explained, “This is a really fun play to direct because of its silliness! The title is obviously “tongue-in-cheek,” as the version of Romeo and Juliet these rural town folk end up is anything but ‘cultured!’ The actors forget their lines, the set isn’t finished, and everything that technically can go wrong does go wrong! It’s a very clever script and the cast has a lot of fun with it.

Craig brings a depth and breadth of theatrical experience to his directing. He and his wife, Joy, have been involved in theatre pretty much all of their lives–over 40 years, include equity-waiver (semi-professional) theater in California. Joy was a high school drama teacher for thirty years.

What brought Bob and Joy to Mesquite? “We were looking for a place o express ourselves. Thing I like about mesquite is it has so much to offer in a small town. Quirky and fun, with such interesting people!” They immediately found friendships and wonderful connections through Mesquite Community Theatre. “You could say theatre is my passion,”remarked Craig. “And I see that passion in others here. And his goal for this play? “To make people laugh! And to showcase the talent of the actors, technical and stage crews, and everyone involved in Mesquite jCommunity Theatre and the Virgin Valley Theatre Group. My goal is to help the actors develop even further in their skills and leave even better than they started.”

Craig noted it is difficult to begin to list all the many, many people who have helped to make this production a success for the community to enjoy. Dana Moran Willliams tirelessly worked to design and build the impressive set. Marnie Bartolilini’s talents in costume design and construction is wonderful. Important to the success of such a production is the technical assistance by Chris Finnegan. Pam Sadler, who serves not only as the currentVirgin Valley Theatre Group president also is the stage manager of the production. Notes Craig, “Pam steps right in to help out where needed.”

Tickets are sold at the theatre box office, which opens an hour before each performance, or order online at Tickets may also be purchased at the Mesquite Fine Arts Center, which now accepts credit and debit cards for Mesquite Community Theatre events.

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