Follow the Oregon Trail…to Bay City

Reviewer: Kristine Gotham

Venue: Historic Masonic Temple Bay City

When you approach the front of the Masonic Temple in Bay City, you are greeted by large wooden doors. Inside, one finds coffer ceilings, lovely plaster work and gorgeous stained glass windows. You wouldn’t expect that you would also find a community theater troupe ready to present a fun, campy, musical parody of a 1970’s video game. But, here it is, seven actors including children, take audience members on the harsh trip along the Oregon Trail.

The set is simple, pixelated panels show the wagons and scenery, while wooden flour barrels and crates offer three-dimensional props. Artistic Director, Erica Tatum, describes the play as a combination of the video game and a National Lampoon vacation movie. Dad, Mom, kids and Grandpa are all traveling along the Oregon Trail. Dad is a happy go lucky character. Each character chooses a profession at the beginning of the journey, carpenter, banker or farmer. The characters have different levels of prestige based on their chosen career. The farmer is the lowest position, as there isn’t going to be much farming done on the trail. Dad of course chooses to be a farmer. The audience is invited to participate at various times throughout the show, including helping to name each of the characters at the beginning. The actors must then remember those names and use them as the play progresses. Situations can arise within the play that would make the names inappropriate for the moment, but the actors must remain in character. The audience also chooses who dies at the end of the play of the dreaded dysentery, but the actors don’t know who is the dead man until the doctor declares them so, and then they perform the song that they have all learned for the occasion.

Because of the language, this play is suggested for audiences over age 12. Friday evening’s performance will have an ASL Interpreter. The Masonic Temple is not handicapped accessible at this time, although Executive Director, Kelly, hopes that will change in the future. The show opens on Friday, July 21 at 7pm, and runs Saturday, July 22 at 7pm, Sunday, July 23 at 3pm, and again on Friday, July 28, Saturday, July 29 and Sunday, July 30. Tickets are $20 each and available at the Box Office. Follow the trail to Bay City’s Masonic Temple and be a part of this fun and funny show.

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