‘Wiley and the Hairy Man’ returns from national competitionFor the first time this year, the County Seat Theater’s production of “Wiley and the Hairy Man” did not win top honors. The show was, however, immensely popular with the audience, according to director Cheryl Kramer-Milder.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
For the first time this year, the County Seat Theater’s production of “Wiley and the Hairy Man” did not win top honors. The show was, however, immensely popular with the audience, according to director Cheryl Kramer-Milder.
“I think we would have won People’s Choice if they’d had such an award,” Kramer-Milder said, following the troupe’s return fromAACTFest11, a four-day national community theater competition in Rochester, New York, sponsored by the American Association of Community Theatre.
“Kirk Davis [who grew his hair and beard for his role as the Hairy Man] was out there visiting with everyone all week,” she added. “Of course, they recognized him. I think he was the most popular character there, for sure.”
“Wiley and the Hairy Man” did bring home two awards from the national competition, for best lighting design and best backstage organization. They were also nominated for awards for sound design, costumes and best director.
“I’m so proud Frank got the award for lighting and design, because he’s had to work really hard,” she said, explaining that her husband, who did both lighting and sound design/operation, had to learn the systems at each competition.
It’s been a long and adventure-filled road for the small Carlton County theater group, which won both the Minnesota state competition and the regional competition in Kansas for the right to go to the national competition. In Rochester, the cast and crew of “Wiley” competed against 11 other plays by groups from across the country and even one from Belgium. Entries ranged from musicals such as “Urinetown” to modern classics such as D.L. Coburn’s “The Gin Game.”
Several cast members noted that the show which won last weekend’s competition was the polar opposite of “Wiley and the Hairy Man,” a very family-friendly production.
Performed by a Texas theater group, Kramer-Milder said the winning “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” contained a lot of “profanity and explicit sexual content” as it told the story of a high school student who questioned the meaning of life after his dog dies.
While Kirk Davis is on vacation this week with his Hairy Man costume, taking photos of “The Hairy Man at Mount Rushmore” and other western destinations, the show – it seems very likely – will go on … eventually.
“There are international festival committee members who have been talking to us all along,” Kramer-Milder said, noting that the group has a good chance at invitations to festivals in Japan, Germany, England and Nova Scotia. “It’s a matter of where and when. Not everyone can drop everything to go, and we have to be realistic.”
If they decide to accept an international festival invitation, Kramer-Milder said the theater would do at least one more local show to raise funds for the cast and crew to travel there.
Perhaps they could sell a Hairy Man calendar, too.