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Nefarious schemes and romantic dreams

“Dirty Work at the Crossroads” takes the stage at CCA High School this weekend
Adam Oakhart (Charlie Wait), Sookie and Mookie Maguggins (Raina Henze and Grant Versteegh) and Nellie Lovelace (Sadie Rummel) react to the sudden demise of Widow Lovelace (Miranda Mason) during a rehearsal of CCA’s presentation of the Bill Johnson Gay Nineties melodrama “Dirty Work at the Crossroads.” The three-act play hits the stage at the CCA High School’s Performing Arts Center in Tiffin on Thursday, Nov. 7, and runs through Saturday, Nov. 9.

TIFFIN– Murder, mayhem and other nefarious events will take center stage at Clear Creek Amana’s (CCA) Performing Arts Center in Tiffin this weekend as the High School’s drama department presents Dirty Work at the Crossroads, or Tempted, Tried and True, a Gay Nineties melodrama in three acts written by Bill Johnson.
The show tells the story of a lovely country girl, Nellie Lovelace (played by Sadie Rummel), the villainous and scheming scoundrel Munro Murgatroyd (Nathan Hooper), his equally treacherous wife Ida Rhinegold (Laurel Preston) and the love of Lovelace’s life, Adam Oakhart (Charlie Wait).
Raina Henze, Grant Versteegh, Miranda Mason, Natalie Thomsen, Laura Tse and Moriah Karkosh also star in the production.
Director Tom Milligan did the show in 1974 in Des Moines at Charlie’s Showplace Dinner Theater (the first such venue in Iowa). “We tried to do a melodrama every year,” Milligan said. “There, we did it with a lot more audience participation, we’d walk out with a ‘Boo!’ and a ‘Hiss!’ sign, ‘Applause!’ and all that. But, it’s always been one of those shows that I’ve liked.” The theory behind doing a melodrama this year at CCA was to take the drama department back to the basics, he explained. “You can get away with a lot of stuff, missing a line, forgetting something. It allows these kids the ability to not have that perfected performance, like you’ve seen in some of the last shows we’ve done (such as last year’s production of Harvey). Unlike some of the more classic scripts, a show like Dirty Work at the Crossroads allows the cast to have a little more fun in a little more relaxed show, he added. “So I picked this one back out and it’s made its way back to the stage.”
The audience will notice actors and actresses speaking to them, or “breaking the fourth wall,” as it’s known. “One of the things we’ve been trying to train is the concept of doing a melodrama; it’s that over-exaggeration, it’s the aside to the audience, and it’s that the story is advanced a lot of times through a monologue that somebody has. It goes directly to the audience a lot of times, and that’s how old-fashioned melodramas were played. It’s a totally different style, and it’s one I don’t think we’ve done here before, and it should be a lot of fun.”
The curtain goes up at 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 7, 8, and 9.
In the spring, the Disney musical Shrek comes to life on the Clippers’ stage. “We’re going to get started on that pretty quick after this,” Milligan said. “We have a tendency where we’ve gotten in the habit of auditioning before Christmas break. So, we’ll close this on Nov. 9, and probably have a meeting next week about Shrek. Last year Freaky Friday was great, and we did Beauty and the Beast before that, so we’re kind-of into these big cast things, and we’re all kind-of looking forward to a year where we can do something that’s maybe not so… momentous.”