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Clague Playhouse slice of life ‘Fireflies’ is a sweet gentle tale

The gossip mills are working overtime in Groverdell, South Texas, population 1,742 in the heart of Jackson County just twenty miles from the Gulf Coast. It seems that there is a newcomer to the area. Abel Brown (Joseph Kerata) is an elder drifter who has suddenly appeared and by all appearances he is up to no good. This is the underlying theme of Matthew Barber's "Fireflies" that just finished up production at Clague Playhouse.

Grace Bodell (Molly Cornwell) has heard from a “good source” that Brown has been going around talking to all of the senior single women in the area. Grace brings her fears to her neighbor Eleanor Bannister (Anne McEvoy), for whom she keeps a careful eye on. Grace is also curious about seeing Eleanor prancing about her property in the early morning clad in only her night clothes.

Eleanor carefully explains that she was simply attempting to beat the Mocking Birds from ruining her crop of figs that she needs to put up for Christmas. Besides, she met Mr. Brown and rode with him in his truck to a small unused cottage that she owns that is in desperate need of repairs. It appears that the last storm put a hole in the roof “the size of a skateboard” and Abel has been hired to repair it.

For her entire life, Eleanor has lived in Groverdell except when she left for college in order to get her teaching degree and certification. She has taught generations of students and pupils, being a good influence on all of them. She never married nor had children of her own and has settled into a comfortable pattern of retirement where every day passes by pretty much the same. That is until Able enters her life. Suddenly there are stirrings such as she has only known decades ago. While she feels her self drawn to this handyman, the bug in her ear (put there by Grace) makes he unwilling to fully trust the man.

It seems that her fears are realized when she gives Able a large amount of cash in the form of two checks totaling $2000 in order to purchase needed repair supplies. She finds a note on the kitchen table saying “something came up, will see you later.” or words to that effect. After three days, she asks Eugene Claymire (Jeremy Jenkins), the local police officer to check into the situation. Eugene is a former student who still remembers the life lessons he learned in school. I assures Eleanor that Able seems to check out but he will be on the lookout for him.

Clague Playhouse specializes in Black Box Theater of gentle or topical stories. These slice of life episodes are a nice break from the travails of life that we all have to work through on a daily basis. They use area actors of repute as well as locals wishing to become better actors.

In this production the cast is made up of seasoned veterans. The exceptional Anne McEvoy stars as Eleanor Bannister opposite the equally talented Molly Cornwell. The vocal banter between these two are an absolute delight. Joseph Kerata brings his decades of acting experience and makes an excellent fit to this show. Rounding out the cast is Jeremy Jenkins who portrays the perfect small town police officer and former student of Eleanor’s. The production is aptly directed by Fred Sternfeld. Ron Newell’s stage set is a perfect recreation of a small kitchen with its assorted collection of nick-nacks and ephemera. The lighting design by Lance Switzer is airy and pleasant and the sound design by Dale Hruska is spot on.

This show had a very successful run from January 20th to February 12th and was well received by all. Up next at Clague Playhouse is “Ada and the Engine” starring Eileen Canepari as Mary Sommerville, DeLee Cooper as Lady Anabella Byron, Nicole Coury as Ada Byron Lovelace, Andrew Keller as Lord Lovelace, Keith Kornajcik as Byron and Brian Pedaci as Charles Babbage. For more information and tickets go to or call (440) 331-0403 Wednesday through Saturday 1:00 to 6:00 p.m.


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Who is Mark Horning?

Over the course of my life I have worked a variety of jobs including newspapers, retail camera sales and photography. Eight years ago I embarked on yet another career as writer. This included articles concerning sports and cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio as well reviews of the many theatrical productions around town. These days are spent photographing professional dance groups, theater companies and various galas and festivals as well as attending various stage performances and posting reviews about them.  

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