This weekend brings the final opportunity to laugh at and be touched by the world premiere of “Hyer House” at Theatre Rocks! in Ennis.
Director and writer, Bill Rhoten, has dedicated this play “to the women in my life who have been affected by Alzheimer’s: Billie Lowe, Jean Rhoten and Eleanor Ninemire.”
In each of those cases, says Rhoten, the horrible disease of Alzheimer’s “may have stolen a lot of things from them, but it never stole their senses of humor.”
And so he wrote a funny play about Alzheimer’s.
“Hyer House” is set in a small-town nursing home and features an outstanding ensemble cast. Lisa Rosewell (Clara), Sandra McClure Mahood (Lily) and Barbara Webb (Stella) are fantastic as the three featured female residents of Hyer House.
The play opens with Clara’s first day at — and attempted escape from — Hyer House. Rosewell manages Clara’s confusion convincingly and delivers funny one-liners in a way that has us believing Clara really is a person who has always had a gift for humor.
Angela Mas (Carman), playing a Puerto Rican nurse, and Adrian Arteaga (Jesus), portraying an insightful nursing home maintenance man, are vehicles for some of the greatest, not-politically-correct comedy in the play.
Add in a couple of unique male residents played by Buzz Fanion (Preacher Man) and Bill Walker (Peter Panofsky), and this joint is hoppin’. Preacher Man has been prescribed medical marijuana but refuses to take it, creating a stockpile in his room that will lead to hilarious trouble. Peter believes he is Peter Pan and can fly.
Let’s just leave those two plot points right there.
Caryn Spaniel (Rose) gives a sweet, honest performance as Clara’s daughter. Her husband, played by Edd Spradling (Paul), also serves as a narrator who skillfully guides us through snapshots of Clara’s life at Hyer House.
Cassidy Hortman (Sarah) as a young nurse and Ben Rosewell (Michael) as the director of Hyer House have the challenging job of keeping semi-straight faces while much of the hilarity ensues, but they are both up to the task.
A lot of people talk about living in the present. “These are the only people I know who truly live in the present,” says Rhoten. “They get to a state where there is no past and they aren’t really looking to the future.” And yet this play is full of hope for our everlasting future, regardless of what each day brings.
ABOUT THE THEATRE
Theatre Rocks! is located at 505 NW Main St., Ennis. The final three performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 22, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 23, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, June 24. Tickets are $15 for general adult admission, $12 for students and senior adults. A waiting list is available for sold-out shows. For information or reservations, call 972-878-5126 or visit www.theatrerocks.com.