“Top 10 Signs That You’ve Chosen a Loser Guide,” number one: “Every three minutes he breaks into ‘Old Man River.’”
The opening sketches in “Fish On” focus on the importance of choosing a compatible fishing guide for the Kenai River. In the 50-minute educational piece from Triumvirate Theatre, sponsored by the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, Paul Morin and J.R. Cox also address geography, history, salmon varieties, safety and conservation issues for the river sport fisherman or woman. River bank erosion is illustrated with mashed potatoes and parsley.
As an illustration of how to ask questions before choosing a guide, Cox and Morin present a “Dating Game” scenario called “Guy’s Guide to Getting a Fishing Guide.” The sketch features fictitious guides “Jet Rigger,” a veteran fishing guide and Freudian analyst, “Ron Ramsey,” a retired Minnesotan drill sergeant, and “Rising Star Simpson,” a vegetarian with a cosmic outlook.
“Fish On” is in its second summer of production. There are noticeably current references, which make it apparent that the performers and writer are reflexive to changes in Kenai Peninsula culture. The company also enjoys the opportunity to add a song here, or a bit there.
“We’re always trying to change it up a bit just to keep it interesting for ourselves,” Cox said of the show’s changing nature.
Joe Rizzo, Triumvirate director and writer for “Fish On,” embraces the serial nature of the script.
In his vision, the play should be performed every summer as a way to entertain local residents and educate visitors contemplating a fishing trip. He sees it as “something that every year people can bring their families to. I think it’s just going to get better every summer.”
Rizzo said the show is unique from day-to-day, in part because of the addition of another performance space. Performances are Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons at The Crossing in Soldotna, as well as at Triumvirate’s own space.
“We’re adding a few more things for the show at The Crossing that can be done there,” he said.
Rizzo said there is a tradition of Alaskana-based performances in the state.
“Every larger community in Alaska has a summer show like this. There’s no reason Kenai shouldn’t have one,” he said.
This production is a show that encourages people to attend with their families.
“It’s family oriented; there’s stuff for everybody,” Cox said.
The show capitalizes on the unique talents of the performers. Paul Morin, a longtime musician, is featured in the opening and closing “The Devil went Down to Kenai,” on the fiddle. Morin returns for the second year from Patrick Henry College in Virginia, where he is studying political science with a view to a law degree. He hopes to attend law school, and then return to Alaska to either practice, or teach.
Cox is a master of voices, portraying all three potential guide characters, one after another, in the “Guy’s Guide to Getting a Fishing Guide” sketch. Cox is studying film at Montana State University. His passion is screenwriting.
Both performers showed great energy on a day when they had three different performances scheduled. The depiction of Les Anderson’s 1985 battle with a record 97 pound king salmon, as imagined by George Lucas, ranged all over Triumvirate’s space in the Peninsula Center Mall. That’s right, there are light sabres in this fishing show.
Rizzo attributes the success of “Fish On” to the Kenai River Sportfishing Association’s sponsorship and the enthusiasm and dedication of the performers.
“You have to experience it in order to appreciate how entertaining it is, yet how much people learn. We’re honing in on the message. It’s a fun show that will also educate you on some important things about the river, which is really vital to us all,” Rizzo said.
As a means to increase local residents’ participation at the beginning of the show’s run, Triumvirate is offering two-for-one tickets Thursday through Saturday.
The company, as they are interviewed, show the spirit of fun. One suggests a puppet show set to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and Rizzo launched into an impromptu cover with words changed to reflect the show’s content.
They said they expect the audience to laugh and enjoy themselves: “Fun facts and tons of excitement in a word, light sabres,” Morin said.
Who, what, where, when ...
“Fish On” performances are held every Tuesday through Saturday at 5 and 7 p.m. until July 27 at the Triumvirate Theatre in the Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna. For more information on these showings, call 953-7262.
Lunch showings are held at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at The Crossing restaurant in Soldotna. For more information on lunch showings, call 262-1906.
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