Encore performance for ‘Meet Uncle Sally’

ST. GEORGE – Community theater history will be repeated Saturday night when the St. George Holy Land Dinner Theater opens the curtain on “Meet Uncle Sally.”

Ella (Ziegler) Biebl performed in the three-act comedy nearly 70 years ago in the Fairfax High School Auditorium. At age 18, she played Elaine Durant.

That 1944 production featured parishioners of the St. Aloysius Club of St. George and St. Andrew’s in Fairfax. They combined their talents and presented the play in Fairfax because a larger venue was available. The play was later performed in St. George.

The St. George Holy Land Dinner Theater began 17 years ago. The plays are directed by Marianne Bianchi, and many of the actors are St. George parishioners.

Biebl, who is a current member of the St. George parish, remembered the good experiences from the 1944 production. She suggested to Bianchi that “Meet Uncle Sally” would be a great play for 2013.

“Ella asked me if I could find copies of the play so it could be done again. We’ve always done comedies,” Bianchi said. “I located a copy of it at a production library in Indiana. Ella’s so excited about it.”

Biebl, who attended Wednesday’s dress rehearsal, brought a large box of homemade donuts to share with the cast. She is pleased her suggestion is playing at the stage in the St. George Social Hall.

“I really admire the cast for their dedication,” Biebl said.

In addition to Biebl, the original St. Aloysius Club cast members were Cyril Dording, Virginia Meurer, Marie Inhofer, Patricia Merkel, Donald F. Dummer, Herbert Anton, Marion Meurer, Lawrence Nosbush, Delores Altman, Francis Brandel and Frank Ziegler Jr. Ziegler provided magical acts between acts I and II. Admission was 20 cents or 40 cents – including tax.

The 2013 play will be presented at the St. George Social Hall on this coming Saturday and on March 9. Social hour begins at 5 p.m. followed by dinner including Windsor Chops at 6 p.m. Some tickets are available for Saturday. The March 9 performance is sold out, but a few chairs may be added if need be.

Set on an autumn day in a small, Midwestern city in the 1940s, the play is about a brother and sister, Ben and Betty Blayne (Ron Forst, Jen Wendinger), who are excited about the upcoming visit of their rich uncle, William Hawkins (Bob Schwab), for two reasons.

One, that he may personally dish out some of his money to them; or two, that he might impress their equally rich Aunt Dorinda (Bonnie Brandel), who could also be the source of a monetary gift as well as giving her blessing for them to marry her own niece and nephew.

Mass confusion breaks out when Uncle Sally Sherwood (Erin Ashby) agrees to take William Hawkins’ place. This situation is cause enough to turn their home into chaos with enough humor to bring tears.

As if there isn’t enough commotion already, an unexpected visit from the dean of Sally’s college, the news of a bandit on the loose, a forthcoming wedding with the preacher (Matt Wendinger) already present, a not-too-smart cook and butler, and an osteopath who thinks he knows everything but knows nothing, all add to the fun.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).

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