JCCT presenting ‘The Gods of Comedy’ next two weekends

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A comedy is just what Jackson County Community Theatre needed.

After the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the 2020 season, the Brownstown theater has actors and actresses back onstage this year.

Even if there are still some guidelines to follow, the thespians are glad there’s an opportunity to express themselves in front of a live audience.

“It’s a great reintroduction to the theater. We get to laugh again,” said Stephanie Strothmann, who plays the role of Dean Trickett in JCCT’s production of Ken Ludwig’s “The Gods of Comedy.”

“I think we’re having a really good time together,” added Natalie Whan, who plays Thalia in the show.

The comedy opens at 7:30 p.m. today and is at the same time Saturday, at 2:30 p.m. Sunday and again at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24 and 25 at Royal Off-the-Square Theatre, 121 W. Walnut St.

Erin Moore said when she was asked to direct a show, a different production was planned. When she learned it wasn’t set in stone, she began looking and came across “The Gods of Comedy.”

“This actually just came out in 2019 professionally, so it was amazing to me that it had already been released,” she said. “From everything I’ve seen, nobody else has done this show yet.”

Having a love for Ludwig’s work and acting in a couple of his shows in the past, Moore ordered the script for “The Gods of Comedy.”

“Honestly, as soon as I started reading it, it’s a belly-laugh show, and I thought after 2020 and after we have had such a long hiatus from the theater, I just really loved the idea of kind of a slapstick fun, take-you-away comedy,” she said.” It’s a laugh-till-you-cry kind of comedy. For me, it was an opportunity to direct a show that, to me, kind of takes you away.”

In the show, a classics professor at one of the greatest universities in America finds a long-lost manuscript by Euripides that will make her famous throughout the world. She, however, loses it and calls on the ancient Greek gods of comedy to get her out of the mess.

For young professor Daphne Rain, the first surprise is that the gods show up. The second surprise is that any two people — even if they are gods — can wreak so much havoc on one university.

In her JCCT debut, Amanda Dick plays the role of Daphne. She described it as “super fun.”

“Everyone has been so supportive, and it has just been a welcomed distraction,” she said. “The opportunity presented itself, and I had always kind of thought about it but just could never commit myself to it, and I could at this point. A door opened and I walked through it, and I was not expecting to get a big part. It has been awesome.”

Larry Hartley, playing the role of Dionysus, said the show is a fantasy, so it’s just fun, while John Boyken, in the roles of Aristide, Aleksi and Ares, said Ludwig did a really good job with the themes in the show.

“Putting a contemporary spin on (theater at the time of ancient Greeks) has allowed for flexibility for directors,” Boyken said. “I think Erin has done a great job of blending the two while keeping it relatively wholesome, at the same time acceptable for anyone to be able to come and see this show.”

Rachel Morrow, who plays Zoe and Brooklyn, said it’s good to be onstage with people in the room telling stories.

“Because I know we’ve all missed it, and it’s a good story to tell,” she said.

Moore said she likes that the cast is small (seven people), and even better, most of them are new to the JCCT stage.

“We have some great new talent in this theater, which I think that always bodes well for any theater,” she said. “We’re just tickled pink that so far, we’ve got a show with a live audience.”