Kiowa Creek troupe presents annual melodrama

`Pony Expresso' draws attendees from as far as Colorado Springs

Chancy J. Gatlin-Anderson
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 11/11/21

The Kiowa Creek Community Theater put on its annual fall melodrama for four consecutive days beginning Nov. 4. The Friday and Saturday night dinner theater performances in Kiowa had more than 100 …

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Kiowa Creek troupe presents annual melodrama

`Pony Expresso' draws attendees from as far as Colorado Springs

Posted

The Kiowa Creek Community Theater put on its annual fall melodrama for four consecutive days beginning Nov. 4. The Friday and Saturday night dinner theater performances in Kiowa had more than 100 attendees.

When first entering the performance space of the Kiowa Creek Community Church, attendees were greeted by director Polly Ehlers warning them to visit the bathroom before the play begins. “I guarantee you'll wet your pants if you don't go now!” she said.

The play, entitled “The Pony Expresso Or … the Villain Came to a Grinding Halt,” is set in the budding community of Waterpit, Nevada in 1861. The main setting for the play is the Pony Expresso coffee shop in the heart of Waterpit. The play had a cast of 11 local actors as well as various volunteers to help with music, lighting, and general behind-the-scenes workings.

One of the volunteers working behind the scenes was Elbert County Commissioner Rick Pettitt, a Kiowa local.

“I used to do the play for a while, now I help behind the scenes every year,” said Pettitt. “This year I worked the lighting.”

Many of the cast members have been working together for years. Three members of the cast (Linda Ehmann, Debbie Maul and Betty Hood) have participated in the Kiowa Creek Community Theater for over 20 years, with Betty Hood being the oldest participating member at 83 years of age.

In addition to acting in the play, most of the actors are also involved in creating the sets, decorating the performance hall, and preparing meals for the two dinner theater performances. They are also responsible for breaking down the set and the hall after the close of the final performance.

The actors also do an excellent job of making each performance unique and different. Though the play consists of hundreds of written lines, the Kiowa Creek Community Theater actors rely heavily on improvisation. Full of jokes and puns, the actors throw out many quirky asides to the audience, breaking the “fourth wall” that typically separates performers from viewers.

“I won't tell you how much I flubbed up!” said Eric Whitman, actor for the part of Mo Cabana. “It is all so different every night.”

“We started practicing in September of this year. We practice out the bazunga!” said director Ehlers. “These are adults though. They have jobs and some have children at home. They don't have time to memorize everything. That's why we have prompters to both sides of the stage.”

When asked if there were any standout moments of the weekend, Ehlers said that the clear winner was the malfunction of Eric Whitman's fake mustache.

“Eric's fake mustache came off in the first act when actress Kristi Strachan's character (Star Bright) threw coffee onto him. His mustache fell halfway off!” said Ehlers. “So many lines were improvised around that falling mustache that the first act went eleven minutes longer than usual!”

Commissioner and theater volunteer Pettitt expressed his feelings about the sense of community surrounding the play.

“Everyone involved spends a lot of time and effort preparing for the play every year,” said Pettitt. “The yearly melodrama creates a fun atmosphere for people to enjoy an evening out. We don't have a lot of things like this out here in Kiowa, so the play gives a little change for people in the community.”

Locals and out-of-towners alike enjoyed this year's melodrama. “It was so hilarious!” commented Elbert County local Linda Staley. “This is the best one we've been to in the six years we've been coming to this theatre.”

Jennifer and Mitch Flatland traveled from Black Forest, a small town northeast of Colorado Springs, to watch the performance. “We saw an advertisement in the paper and thought it would be a fun time,” said Linda Flatland. “It was so funny and is definitely living up to our expectations!”

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