MANTORVILLE — Mantorville citizens always have been a bit ga-ga for their marigolds.
Ever since the legendary Walter Bruzek (1907-1981) showed up on the scene, wearing a marigold in his lapel and sporting marigold cufflinks, marigolds have been it. The city’s annual celebration features grand parades, fireworks displays, dances, 5K runs, antiques and flea markets, but it all starts with the marigold.
So it should come as no surprise, this being the 50th anniversary of Marigold Days, that the Mantorville Theatre Company’s upcoming and final melodrama of the season gives center stage to — yes, you guessed it — the marigold.
The Mantorville company’s season of melodramas runs from mid-June to Sept. 12. And when we say run, we mean run. The condensed timeframe requires that as soon as one play opens, the next one goes into rehearsal. This will be company’s fourth and final production.
“One of the unique things about our melodramas is after the first play, the rest of the plays don’t get to rehearse on their own set until the week that the play opens,” said Melisa Ferris, publicity director of the Mantorville company. “So you only get three honest-to-goodness rehearsals on your own set before you open.”
This season’s fourth production is an origin story: How Mantorville came to be Marigold City, USA. The mayor has staged a contest to pick the best flower and encourages all of the ladies of the Mantorville garden club to enter the competition.
But this being melodrama, there needs to be a villain to bring out the sterling qualities of the humble but hearty marigold. One of the contestants, Mary Gentry, finds her submission, the marigold, under assault by the black-hatted Mr. Regal. A lover of the rose, he will stop at nothing to see his flower prevail, unleashing all manner of harm — rabbits and bugs and poisoned fertilizer — on the marigold. Hissing from the audience is encouraged.
“Mary Goes for the Gold or Pick My Flowers, Please” was written and directed by Sandra Hennings Miller and was selected as part of play-writing contest sponsored by the Marigold Days committee.
“One of the things that I always brag about our melodramas is that they are suitable for every single member of the family,” Ferris said. “You can bring really young kids and young-at-heart older adults, and no one is going to be embarrassed or not be able to follow the story.”
And this being melodrama, audience participation is encouraged, including cheering for the hero and, as we mentioned, hissing at the evil Mr. Regal.
The show opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Mantorville Opera House and runs every Friday and Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. and every Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m., through Sept. 12.
The cast features Kane Kline, of Byron, Justin Marsland, of Kasson, Gale Vukov, of Rochester, Bailey Fields, of Mantorville, Doreen Coleman, of Kasson, Laurel Panser, of Rochester, Renee Deeds, of Rochester, Tom Flaherty, of Adams, Robert Soland, of Mantorville Hallie Newell, of Byron, and Ruth Tear, of Kasson.