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Great River Road Theater presents 'A Telltale Farce'

It's not often the author Edgar Allan Poe, known for his dark and macabre poetic themes, is associated with humor and laughter. But director Judy Johnson and the Great River Road Theatre have taken the opportunity to bring them together on one stage for a dinner theater performance.

Beginning Feb. 1 at The Ridgetop event center, the group will be presenting The Tell-Tale Farce, a comedy about Edgar Allan Poe written by Don Zolidis. This is the fifth year of performances by the Great River Road Theatre at Prescott's Ridgetop.

Consisting of nine actors and actresses, this theater performance is a Victorian-era story about a series of comical mishaps, impersonations and romance around the time Poe has finished his famous narrative poem The Raven. He doesn't make much money from his works, so after being offered $100 from a woman to write a love poem, he jumps on board. But a mailman who got involved in the mix impersonates Poe to romance another lady, and the comedy unfolds.

These annual performances, always a comedy chosen by the Great River Road Theatre board, are clean and geared toward adults, Johnson said.

"We always have a comedy because I believe that it's a good thing to have people come and sit back and relax and have a good dinner and just laugh," Johnson said with a smile. "It's gotta be clean, we don't do anything nasty."

About 25 years into her directing experience, Johnson said she liked this play from the beginning of her initial read-through before choosing it this year.

The cast has been preparing this production since November of last year, Johnson said.

Her 23-year-old grandson Benjamin Johnson, who will be acting for his third year in the group, said he is excited.

"The day it comes, I look forward to seeing it all come together," he said. "You get to watch the whole audience laugh."

Benjamin will be playing the part of Brinsley the butler this year, a character who tries to be upright but "just can't refuse the maid," he said.

Eight other actors and actresses from the surrounding area will be a part of the cast: Mckenzie Clymer, Mark Andre, Becky Denn, Scott Halverson, Krista Christensen, Liz Gerke, James Krees-Richer and Malachi Becker.

"(These plays are) a chance (for the members) to let their hair down and be whatever they want to be," Johnson said.

Performances are scheduled for 6:45 p.m. Feb. 1-2 and Feb. 8-9 with dinner beforehand with choices of jumbo shrimp, prime rib, chicken marsala or pork medallions. Sunday matinees take place at 12:45 p.m. Feb. 3 and 10 with a luncheon serving hot sandwiches.

"We can sit about 80 people out here and usually it fills up," Johnson said, "People are liking this, they are very receptive to it."

Public wishing to attend must call The Valley Bar and Grill at 715-425-1018 in Prescott to reserve tickets and give a $20 down payment. More information about the Great River Road Theatre and this year's performance can be found online at " target="_blank">www.greatriverroadtheatre.org/

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