The Hays Community Theatre will present this weekend a tale of quirky characters, holiday lights and a Christmas hog.
“Fruitcakes” will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the 12th Street Auditorium, 323 W. 12th. Tickets are $10 and are available through www.hctks.com or at the door.
The story takes place in a small Southern town as Christmas approaches.
“Like any little town in America, we all have our eccentric people and characters,” director Gene Stramel said.
Two spinster sisters — who don’t get along — are busy with their tradition of making fruitcakes for everyone and looking for their lost tom cat; the sheriff is preparing his huge lights display and a runaway teen is taking it all in.
“He’s from Atlanta so he’s not used to the small-town stuff. He comes to be accepted by the people, he gets attached to all these people,” Stramel said.
The town’s children are also rehearsing for the big Christmas pageant.
“Then they all get chicken pox. Then the community members have to come and do their parts,” he said.
The cast of 17 has been working on the performance for about four weeks.
“We have some people that are return people, a lot of veterans returning. We’ve got some new people that have come to the theater for the first time,” Stramel said.
One of those new to HCT is Emi Simmons, of Plainville. A Baker University theater grad, she’s done mostly behind-the-scenes work lately.
“This is my first time acting in almost three years. All my credits around here have been backstage like stage manager in Plainville. I’m the assistant forensics coach at Hays High,” she said.
But she said she missed acting and saw HCT had auditions for “Fruitcakes.” She didn’t have a particular role in mind, and was surprised when she learned she had the role of Jamie, the teenage runaway.
The role has been a bit of a challenge, she said.
“I’ve tried to get in the mindset of being a 13-year-old boy, which I have never been in my life," she said. "Just the other day, they were telling me there’s a part where I kind of stand off to the side while everyone else is talking and they told me I was standing like a girl.”
“I needed to slouch more, I need to bite my nails and be more boyish,” she said with a laugh.
“It’s definitely been one of my most challenging roles, but it has definitely been fun,” she said.
HCT veteran Jerrett Leiker plays store owner Mack Morgan, whom Stramel described as the “sanest person” in the town.
“He kind of holds everybody together,” Leiker agreed with a laugh.
“It’s been a lot of fun. Lot of great cast members and great characters,” Leiker said.
HCT will also perform "Fruitcakes" at the Grainfield Opera House on Dec. 14.