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DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

COTTONWOOD SHORES — Comedy, it is said, is the most difficult form of entertainment to pull off. But the cast and crew of the Hill Country Community Theatre production “The Curious Savage” are definitely on the right track.

“Rehearsals have been incredibly fun,” director Mary Ann Fletcher said. “We’re always laughing because the play is so funny and so well-written.”

“The Curious Savage,” written by John Patrick, tells the story of Ethel Savage, whose husband leaves her a great deal of wealth. She decides to use the money to help others pursue their dreams. But, in an effort to lay claim to the money, her stepchildren throw a wrench in her plans: They get Ethel committed to a sanatorium.

The woman enlists her new friends at the sanatorium to help her find a way out of the mess.

“The cast of characters really sets this apart and makes it such a funny play,” theater executive director Steve Reily said. “Because of how well it’s written and its comedy style, it’s one of the most produced plays in America.”[box]IF YOU GO
WHAT: “The Curious Savage”
WHEN: Dec. 5-15 with showtimes at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2:15 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: The Hill Country Community Theatre, 4003 FM 2147 in Cottonwood Shores
ADMISSION: Tickets are $15 for adults and $7 for students 16 and younger. Group rates are available.
FOR MORE: Go to www.hcct.org or call (830) 798-8944.[/box]

When Reily came to local theater, he learned it had never produced the John Patrick classic. As the planning group began looking at possible productions, several people, including Reily, recommended “The Curious Savage,” and it was added to the list.

“We chose it because it’s really, really well-written,” he said. “Yeah, it’s a comedy and it makes you laugh, but it goes deeper than just the laughs. I think of it kind of as a Frank Capra movie (such as ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’) Sure it’s entertaining, but, when it’s done, you walk out of the theater realizing you actually learned something. It sneaks up on you.”

The play was first produced in 1950 with Lillian Gish in the lead role.

Reily said the local cast makes the production jump to life. While comedic timing sometimes takes time to master, the actors have found their rhythm, and it comes across on stage.

With “The Curious Savage,” Fletcher, who taught theater at Marble Falls High School for 21 years, marks her third time directing at Hill Country Community Theatre, though she’s assisted on several other productions. She directed the play many years ago as a high school production but is excited to see it come to the community theater’s stage.

“It’s very different in many ways than other plays,” she said. “It’s a fast-paced comedy. And the way the roles have been cast really brings out those characters.”

While she taught high school students for years, Fletcher enjoys working with actors of all ages. She said theater offers people a chance to get out of their comfort zones.

“I like to see people stretch themselves and see what they can do,” she said. “And I love to see people come to the stage for the first time.”

“The Curious Savage” cast includes many veterans of the community theater with a few new faces.

The play opens Dec. 5 and runs through Dec. 15 at the theater, 4003 FM 2147. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2:15 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 for adults and $7 for students 16 and younger. Group rates are available. Call (830) 798-8944 for tickets.

Reily said this also is the first time people can purchase tickets online for a Hill Country Community Theatre production. Go to www.thehcct.org for online purchasing options or more information.

daniel@thepicayune.com