HANFORD – The characters in the Kings Players’ newest production might agree with John Milton’s  “Paradise Lost” line, “Solitude sometimes is the best society.”

In the comedy “Paradise Lost and Found” — a word play on the title of Milton’s classic poem — the employees at the Paradise Bus Co. deal with strange rumors, stranger visitors and the appearance of a mysterious young girl that serve only confuse them with a slew of hilarious misunderstandings.

The play opens Friday at the Temple Theater and runs through Dec. 1.

“It’s a very funny show. It’s hard not to laugh when I’m listening backstage — or even on stage — at some of the lines,” said actress Kim Spicer who plays the character of Clara.

“We wanted to finish out the year with something light – just zany and crazy. We thought, ’here we are, it’s the end of the year, let’s just have a good time,” said actor Ron W. Bates.

Bates, who’s currently celebrating 30 years with the Kings Players, plays the role of Benjamin — a man with a secret.

Featuring a cast of 11, “Paradise Lost and Found” boasts a much larger cast than is normal for a Temple Theater stage. With that extra long call sheet comes faces familiar to Temple Theater audiences as well as those returning after long hiatuses and even a few young actors new to the stage.

Playing the role of the mysterious Emily is first-time actress Hope Guhl. But what got this this soft-spoken 11-year-old Armona Union Academy student into the acting scene for the first time?

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“She did,” Guhl said, pointing to her mother. “She ran the idea across my mind and before she was done talking, I said, ‘I’m in.’”

The young actress said that it’s been fun rehearsing for the show, despite the fact that it has made her school schedule a little more hectic. So far the best advice she’s gotten from the theater company’s veteran actors is how to stay still on stage and how to project her voice to the back of the room, she said. Even with that preparation, she admitted to having some pre-show jitters.

“I’m nervous. You can count on that,” she said.

“She’s doing a great job. She’s got all of her lines learned and she’s ready to go,” Bates said of the young actress he has many scenes with throughout the show. “I think she’s going to do really well. We’re all pulling for her.”

Other new faces in the show include JP Rapozo, who’s taking to the Temple Theater stage for the first time in 20 years. Now a seasoned actor and spoken word artist, the last time Rapozo was in a King’s Players production, he wasn’t much older than Guhl. Rapozo plays the sullen and hard-nosed boss of the bus depot.

This will be the first time acting with the Kings Players for Chariti Messer who plays the “sassy” matriarch of the bus depot, Mavis, and Jianna Vang, who plays Regan. Vang, though, has acting experience with her local church and the Hanford Multicultural Theater Company.

Many in the production’s large cast are on stage simultaneously throughout the show, often with multiple conversations and plot lines happening at once. Director John C. Rabe said that everyone in the cast needs to be on their toes to make sure every line and every joke pops when it needs to, lest the wheels come off the bus.

“Some of us have been at this a long time,” Bates said. “Others are new to the theater or new to acting in general. But we all work together, we all help each other to make it work.”

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