A Roller Coaster Ride at the Lofte!

by Jason Slaughter

Christmas is a time of get-togethers with friends and family, and we all have times when we wish we could have captured the moments and conversations from those gatherings. The Lofte Community Theatre has a show that you will relate to and will tickle your funny bone. In-Laws, Outlaws, and Other People (That Should be Shot) by Steven Franco is captured really well by these fine artists, known as the Born-in-a-Barn Players. 

I had never been to the Lofte Community Theatre, which is in the small Nebraska town of Manley. I was awed by the atmosphere that this place exudes. It is worth the 40- minute drive from Lincoln or Omaha to Manley. I have to say this place is now on my radar to go see great community theatre. 

The story is about a modern day family in Brooklyn, NY, on Christmas Eve, and the family, neighbors and some unexpected guests who arrive to make for one funny experience. The first thing you notice is the scenic design by Kevin Colbert is outstanding. The detail in the house set is so good that you just want to pull up a chair and visit with this family. I loved the touches of the Christmas lighting outside the windows and the well done Christmas tree. The costumes were amazing as well. I would say the Christmas sweater we saw on one of the characters was a standout, great job Tami Kruger. To be honest the details in the world that this play lives in were at the highest caliber I have seen in a long time. 

The opening night performance started with an announcement that one of the cast members had fallen ill and could not be a part of the show last, so we had an stand-in on short notice for the part of Mrs Draper. As the saying goes, “the show must go on,” and the cast stepped up to provide a great performance. With many comedies it is like a rollercoaster for a ride. You start slow up the long hill, but once you go over the top it is one hell of a ride. That is how I would describe this performance; it starts slow so you can get to know the characters, but each time that doorbell rang was an adventure to behold. 

Rob Carrera’s performance as the dad was strong, and at the end of the show you realize how much work he had to make to get to the final payoff. Beth played by Shakeida Bullis definitely enveloped the sarcasm of her character and had a lot of fun playing off the other people in this show. Bunny (Dynette Streich) and Bud (Randy Wallace) and their daughter Tracy (Riah Carrera) made for some great comedic moments. Bud always putting his hands up and his look on life remind me of some of my uncles. Bunny’s best moments were her lighted Christmas earrings and her monologue about falling in love with Bud (back hair and all). Tracy was great putting an intelligent spin on the experience from her last school project. 

Then we come to my favorite performances of the night, Aunt Rose and Uncle Leo. Brenda Jones and Ken Snyder had some great chemistry and lines in this production. I would love to watch them in their own production in these characters. With these performances by the family and in-laws, it is already worth the admission to see these characters interact.

Then we have the introduction of Tony and Vinny, the outlaws. This is when the play really gets moving with these two characters being thrown in the middle of this family get together. Kevin Colbert (Tony) has such a great performance, he made me think of how much work he had to put in with development of his character. Jim Knierim (Vinny) had some of the great bits in this show and he nailed them each time. I believe he did get the biggest laugh of the night! 

And then we got even more amazing performances from Matthew Kischer (Paul), Jayden Boyle (Emily), Melinda Mead (Mrs. Wakowski), Stephanie Porter (Janet) and Jeff Johnston (Officer Henley). These characters provided more fun for this production. This is one hell of an ensemble cast. 

I would say, though, that the performance had some issues with the sound here and there with a mic going out and in from time to time. And then there were some moments where I wish the banter was a bit more snappy. There were long pauses in some delivery of lines. But these were some of the minor things I noticed. 

I do highly recommend that people go and see this show. You will not be disappointed by this amazing cast and wonderful experience at the Lofte Community Theatre. 

If you go: Remaining performances are December 13,14, and 19-21 at 7:00 pm, and December 15 and 22 at 2:00 pm, all at the Lofte Community Theatre (15841 Manley Road in Manley, NE). Tickets are available online and at the Lofte box office.

Jason Slaughter has a great love of the performing arts. Even though he is taking a break from spending a lot of time doing theatre, he enjoys seeing the hard work and amazing artistry this community provides.

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