A quick glance into the unmarked building behind Subway on Kalifornsky Beach Road reveals a suspended construction project camouflaging a cavernous adjoining room filled with half-finished backdrops, racks of plastic covered costumes and piles of miscellaneous props.
A group of the Kenai Performers is currently practicing in the disarrayed space for a dinner theatre style performance of Ken Ludwig’s play “Leading Ladies.”
On the opposite side of the room the play’s director Terri Zopf-Schoessler sits on a metal foldout chair facing an ornately designed burgundy couch, a red armchair and floral carpet, acting as the rehearsal set.
Over a year ago a car plowed right through the space they were trying to turn into a theatre next to Curtain Call Consignment, said “Leading Ladies” producer Mary Krull.
The Kenai Performers have a history of transience. But over their 40 year run, it has occasionally been out of necessity.
Mary Krull found the space the Kenai Performers are currently practicing in, and eventually hope to turn it into a theatre with abou 100 seats, she said.
Zopf-Schoessler said her handpicked cast is fiercely dedicated to the show. Rehearsals began two months before opening night, catered by Kenai Catering, Saturday, June 7, at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska.
Played by two self-proclaimed giants, Daniel Rozak and Jacob Coreson, fictional friends Leo Clark and Jack Gable hatch a plan to pose as the relatives of an ailing stranger named Florence, and try to get in on her inheritance.
Once the pair realizes they must play the part of two women in order to have a chance at the old woman’s money, Clark and Gable decide to continue on with the ruse.
Both Coreson and Rozak are over 6-feet tall and finding high heels that fit was a task Zopf-Schoessler said. Costume designer Chris Cook was able to find a pair of men’s size 16 pumps on a drag queen website online.
“They’d jump of a cliff if we asked them,” Zopf-Schoessler said of her cast’s willingness to play the roles.
The actors and actresses have been juggling jobs, school, expecting wives, dance rehearsals, and fire evacuations, all while putting together a solid performance, Zopf-Schoessler said.
“It speaks to their insanity and dedication,” She said with a laugh.
Zopf-Schoessler said her cast is incredibly talented. They have excellent comic timing and are willing to tango in heels, she said.
Alyeska Krull, playing the role of Audrey, said Zopf-Schoessler has a great eye for directing, utilizing a very meticulous personal style.
For Alyeska Krull, it is her first time performing in a play with some risqué themes, such as cross-dressing.
Robert Peterson said the play, however, is still PG-rated. It also brings up other interesting social themes, such as greed, which drives the two friends to go after an inheritance that is not their own.
Through out the rehearsal on May 28, Elan Krull, playing the role of Florence, practices letting out the shrill squirrely squeal, of a batty old woman, cracking up the previously stoic faces of her fellow performers.
Peterson said the biggest challenge of his performance responding to his cast-mates lines with a straight face.
Leading Ladies is playing June 7, 13-14, and 20-21 at 7 p.m. at the Challenger Learning Center.
Kelly Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org