It’s every new homeowner’s nightmare — you find a new place, settle in and the legal owner shows up and dies of a heart attack in your kitchen.
And that’s the trouble facing the three leading ladies in the Kings Players’ upcoming production of “Too Soon for Daisies,” running Feb. 23-March 18 at the Temple Theater.
In the play, three elderly women escape their English retirement home via rowboat, finding the home of their dreams along the way. It’s just a shame they have to figure out a way to hide the owner’s dead body so they can keep the home for themselves.
Kings Players president and actor in the role of the policeman, Dennis David, says that black farcical comedy can be tricky, but feels that the players have cracked the formula.
“The main thing is to keep it light, keep it entertaining — which we always do,” he says.
“And keep it morbid,” co-star Jon Rabe, who plays Paul Vanderbloom, the homeowner — well, former homeowner — chimes in.
David was asked to join the Kings Players after a trip he made to the theater to help clean it while working for the county about 20 years ago.
“They asked me to be a board member and I said, ‘why not? I’m bored enough,’” he said.
While happy as a member of the board, David was initially reluctant to play a part on stage. Finally, he agreed to play a role similar to the one he’ll be playing in “Daisies” — a police officer. In taking the role, Davis inadvertently opened himself up to new responsibilities.
“Soon after, when I was elected president, I looked at the bylaws and to be president, you have to be in at least one play. They roped me in,” he joked. “But I enjoy it. “
Now, David and Rabe assist in the building of sets for each show, in addition to their other duties with the Players.
While some of the cast have been with the players for decades, including Beth Reynolds, who plays retirement home escapee Joy, others are nearly new to the stage.
Rounding out the escapees are Jeanne Ball as Freda and RaeLynn Royer as Edie.
“At its heart, it’s a very sweet story in a way because these are three older ladies who just want a second chance and this is it for them. They really want to make it work and they believe they’re justified in everything they do,” Ball says.
The actress is returning to the stage after a 10-year hiatus. She says she has more time to devote to acting since she recently retired from teaching for the Hanford Joint Union High School District.
Royer hasn’t taken the stage in almost two decades.
“It’s been a good one to start back in on — great people, super fun show, awesome director,” she says.
Cyndie Maxwell is directing the production, inspired by the Kings Players’ Deb Stimpson, who wanted to bring the play to the Temple Theatre, but passed away before seeing it come to fruition.
“I decided I’d do the play she wanted to do,” Maxwell said.
Rounding out the ensemble are Christa Van Gemert, whose character, Jackie, is taken in reluctantly by the three ladies while looking for her uncle and P.J. Wilder as Joe, the handyman.
Van Gemert’s first show with the Players was 2013’s “50 Years of Broadway,” which her neighbors, who also work with the company, suggested she audition for. Having just finished graduate school, Van Gemert plans to devote more time to the theater.
“She tries to come off as a mean girl, tough and aloof but she really has a softer side,” the actress said about her character. “She’s looking for her uncle because she thinks that will make her life better.”
P.J. Wilder has recently been seen in the Visalia Players’ production of “Cabaret” and portrayed the Chattahoochee River-soaked sage himself, Alan Jackson, in the Kings Players’ “A Little Country Christmas.”
“I play Joe the handyman. He’s described as lugubrious. I don’t know if that’s typecasting but it means poor and sad. That’s usually why I act, so that I don’t have to be poor and sad,” Wilder said.