Last night I had the pleasure of attending the final evening performance of Charlie Cox Runs with Scissors at the Avenue Theatre in West Plains, Missouri. The stage comedy, written by playwright Michael McKeever, is focused on a man who has just learned that he is dying and hits the road in some sort of quest to discover the meaning of his existence. The road that he hits runs through a stretch of desert somewhere west of Phoenix - my old stomping ground.
During Charlie's existential road trip he meets Nell, a desert motel operator, who becomes the love of his life. He also becomes acquainted with the mental personifications of his own death - a quick and quirky quipster who goes by the name Wally Death - and his desire to love - a blind and passionate romantic called Kiki. Charlie is the only person who can see or hear Wally and Kiki, a situation which keeps the comedy pot simmering and occasionally boiling over.
This play was under the direction of Jim Clemens and featured five local actors: Nicholas Haring in the title role as Charlie Cox, Toni Johnson as Charlie's love interest Nell Todd, A.J. Hufstetler as Travis Dunn, a local tow-truck operator who also has a romantic interest in Nell, Brett Osborne as Wally Death, and Clara Holmes as Kiki, the blind love provocateur. The talented cast did flawless work under the very able direction of Mr. Clemens. It was an immensely entertaining production.
In fact, in the year that I have been back in the area, I can happily report that I have enjoyed every show that I have seen in the historic Avenue Theatre. The local individuals who manage to keep the place repaired and operational do great work, and both the sound and the lighting in the old structure are far better than what one would suppose when pondering the building's age. The actors and technical people who grace the stage and walk its boards are also a cut above what one would expect in a small town theatre venue. The Avenue Theatre is an important fixture in the local cultural scene.
"A play is just like real life, but with better lighting." Michael McKeever
Support your local Little Theatre and enjoy some real life on a stage near you!