Laughs (and possibly gunshots) are sure to ring out in Starbuck when the United Church Players take the stage in Pistols & Posies.
The group of about 14 will perform during their annual dinner theatre on March 15 and 16 at Starbuck Hall. Director Ellen Saltiss said the event is the local United Church’s only fundraiser, and it’s been a successful one for 24 years.
Saltiss is one of a core group of dedicated volunteers who have been involved since the beginning. She said her role was reduced one year due to her health.
"I missed one production when I had hip surgery, but I was a backup singer hiding behind the curtain."
In recent years, what Saltiss calls "us old guys" have been joined by younger volunteers who expressed their interest in helping their church and community.
Saltiss usually orders about six musicals from an American play publisher each June, then chooses the one she thinks will best complement the talents of her cast. However, plays by local writers Margaret Porter and Dennis Rice were also staged.
"It was great to know that there was that local talent." Saltiss said.
Read-throughs are held each October, then the cast members get their scripts and rehearsals are held in November. They take a break over the busy holiday season and resume in February. This gives those with younger children the chance to spend time with their families.
While the company once held six performances of each production, Saltiss said this year, they decided to just perform twice.
"It has been a hard year," she added, saying that the company members miss Len Goldsborough who died just before last year’s performance. Goldsborough was extremely talented at making props for each production.
Diane Trudeau is the event’s convenor, working to co-ordinate the theatre, dinner, ticket sales and promotion. She is joined by close to 70 volunteers including Saltiss’ husband Romeo, who prepares the roast beef served at each performance.
Trudeau said the Starbuck United Church is important to her so she’s willing to put in long hours each year. "This is the way that I can support it."
Saltiss expressed her wish that newer cast members and volunteers will keep the dinner theatre tradition alive.
"That’s our hope, but I take it one year at a time."
Tickets for Pistols & Posies are $35 and can be purchased at Dawn ‘til Dusk or call 204-735-2378.