Cardinal Theatre will be presenting its spring production of “Flaming Idiots” at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Clarinda High School auditorium.
For 10 Clarinda seniors, the production will also mark the conclusion of their careers with Cardinal Theatre. Those seniors are: Jordan Fasnacht, Dylan Glassgow, Tiana Herzberg, Molly Lihs, Chase McAndrews, Gavin Moheng, Hazel Morgan-Fine, Damon Nally, Seth Ohden, and Kari Van Nostrand.
“Even though I’m sad this is my final show, I can’t wait to spend it with my friends and family, and use it to close my chapter with Cardinal Theatre with a bang,” Van Nostrand said.
A contemporary farce written by Tom Rooney, “Flaming Idiots” is filled with laughs from beginning to end. There are also a couple other surprises mixed in to the performance.
“Some things I’m looking forward to in this production are the humor, the live flames and doing another show with such a great cast,” Lihs said.
The play follows the exploits of Carl and Phil, who left their jobs at the post office to become restaurant owners. Although they have the entrepreneurial spirit to succeed, they lack the business judgment to make their health food restaurant a hit.
Meanwhile, a rival restaurant has been flourishing since a notorious mobster was shot at the establishment 20 years ago. Carl and Phil can only wonder if a similar murder would provide their business the notoriety it has been lacking.
“This farce is extremely exhilarating and action packed. There is nothing more fun than making people laugh,” Fasnacht said.
“I’m looking forward to hearing the laughter of the audience since we are finally doing a comedy,” Ohden said.
“This spring’s production is a very comedic and entertaining one, and I can’t wait to show what our group has created to an audience,” Van Nostrand said.
Another essential character in the production is the cook, who speaks volumes without saying a word.
“I am looking forward to seeing a character that is deaf. I’m excited to see a character represented that has no lines, but is important to the story,” Morgan-Fine said.
However, this is not the first time Cardinal Theatre has exposed audiences to characters battling challenges they may be unfamiliar with. During the production of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time” Fasnacht was cast to portray a boy with autism.
“Acting is truly a unique experience. Because of the opportunity to act like an autistic child, I not only got to show others what autism is like, but I got to think and feel like an autistic child. The experience was truly surreal,” Fasnacht said.
Tickets for the production of “Flaming Idiots” went on sale Aug. 8 on the Clarinda Community School District website and will also be sold at the door if available. All audience members are required to wear masks while attending the performances.
Given the many challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year, the seniors involved with Cardinal Theatre said they were are excited to return to the stage and have one more opportunity to perform in front of a live audience.
“I am looking forward to ‘Flaming Idiots’ providing nearly two hours of comedy in an effort to heal the wounds isolation has caused over the past year,” McAndrews said.
“I am looking forward to being able to perform for the community in person. At the beginning of COVID we weren’t able to do any in-person performances, but now we are able to and we are all excited,” Herzberg said.
“I cannot wait to perform in front of an audience again. It’s been so long and I am ready to put on a great show,” Moheng said.
The most experienced of the seniors in Cardinal Theatre this year are Fasnacht and Herzberg. This will be the eighth performance they have been involved with. Over that time, they have gained a special appreciation for the unique bond shared by the theatre members.
“I always thought it was so special to be able to watch the performances, but now that I’m involved in them, it’s even more special,” Herzberg said. “Every single person that’s involved in theatre has a passion for it and when we are able to be together it’s just so much fun. It’s a really special thing to be able to be with people who love doing the same thing you do.”
“I’m excited to meet with my acting family and supporters,” Fasnacht said. “Theatre has taught me many things about people and human interactions. I have especially learned about human speech and behavior habits. I have also learned how to be confident while doing uncomfortable things in front of an audience like quoting lines, screaming, walking in a silly way, making funny or solemn facial expressions and many others.”
For Ohden and Van Nostrand, “Flaming Idiots” will mark the seventh Cardinal Theatre production they have been involved in. McAndrews and Moheng, meanwhile, will each be taking part in the sixth performance of their careers.
Regardless of the production, Van Nostrand said the greatest moment of each performance for her takes place just before the curtain rises.
“We have a tradition where, before we get on state, our cast and crew gathers around in a big circle. We hype and pep each other up to get ready for the show and then put our hands together in the middle and shout ‘We’re great!’ at the top of our lungs. These moments are always full of excitement and energy, and readies our cast and crew for a great show,” Van Nostrand said.
Another popular tradition among of Cardinal Theatre is signing a production mural that hangs in the theatre shop. Lihs said the first time she was able to sign a mural has grown in importance over the years.
“It wasn’t a big deal at the time, but it means a lot to me to have my name up there with the names of so many people in this program that I admire,” she said.
McAndrews is serving as the stage manager for “Flaming Idiots.” He held the same position for the production of “Clowns with Guns” and said that play holds special significance for him.
“This show satirically brought attention to the plague of mass shootings the world is battling,” McAndrews said.
Beyond that, McAndrews said his involvement has taught him the importance of adapting to the unexpected.
“Be it evacuating a theatre of 2,500 patrons, having your director quarantined or learning as I go, being able to adapt to the situations I face has been my biggest takeaway,” McAndrews said.
Nally said playing Wadsworth in the production of “Clue” was a “dream come true.”
“Aside from that, the best memory I have in general, would be meeting and getting close with some of the best people I’ve ever met,” Nally said.
Morgan-Fine has been involved in the majority of the productions presented by Cardinal Theatre during her high school career. Among the many memories she values, Morgan-Fine said participating in the Thespian Festival is her fondest.
Similarly, Ohden said his most cherished memory was winning the All-State title for Large Group Speech Contest.
However, the lessons Cardinal Theatre has taught these seniors extends well beyond the stage and will stay with them long past their time at Clarinda High School.
Moheng said when he first joined Cardinal Theatre he was scared and intimidated about performing. However, he quickly discovered a sense of family that provided the security he needed to achieve his goals in all aspects of his life.
“This experience has really changed my life for the better. It gave me a sense of confidence and really helped me become the person I am now,” Moheng said.
“Theatre has really shown me and helped me become more mature and realize that when you have a love for something, then do that something,” Herzberg said.
“The experiences I’ve had in Cardinal Theatre have taught me how to express my thoughts and my feelings better. I have also learned to collaborate with people to create something incredible,” Lihs said.
“Theatre has taught me that hard work and dedication will get you wherever you want to be in life,” Nally said.
“The many things I have learned about people and their interactions has helped me be empathetic, sympathetic, funny (sometimes), and confident. There are countless things that a person can learn while rehearsing and acting,” Fasnacht said.