Brooke Hills Playhouse Opens ‘Farce of Habit’ This Weekend

Photo Provided Sheila Cavalette, Rob DeSantis and Rita Smith, from left, rehearse for the Brooke Hills Playhouse production of the Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten comedy, “Farce of Habit.”

WELLSBURG — As the Brooke Hills Playhouse prepares to open the final production of their 47th summer season this Friday, director Diana Mendel of Wellsburg is reporting two cast changes for “Farce of Habit,” Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten’s sequel to last summer’s popular Playhouse production of “Farce of Nature.”

The fast-paced comedy runs with performances at 8 p.m. this Friday and Saturday and next Friday and Saturday, with matinees at 2 p.m. this Sunday and next Sunday. Reservations are available by calling or texting the Playhouse at 304-737-3344.

Mendel explained that, due to an injury, Connie Wendel of Glen Dale, will not be able to repeat her role as Wanelle Wilburn. Instead, Sheila Cavalette of Weirton, who had been scheduled to play Sister Myrtle Agnes, one of a group of nuns on a nature retreat at Arkansas’ Reel ‘Em Inn, will step into the role of Wanelle

Not only is Wanelle attempting a total withdrawal from caffeine, just as the nuns arrive and her husband, D. Gene (played again by Rob DeSantis of Weirton) is planning to go fishing, but D. Gene has to deal with the fact that the very sight of Sister Myrtle Agnes’ traditional religious habit totally unhinges him. Sister Myrtle Agnes now will be played by Playhouse newcomer Rita Smith of Wellsburg.

Director Diana Mendel anticipates no problems for either of the actresses stepping into different roles, or for the newcomers to the cast, Andrew Dillie of Wellsburg as Wanelle and D. Gene’s son Ty, or Crystal Sharma of Bethany as Barbara Stratton, a new character who is the ex-wife of relationship guru Jock McNair, played by Dan Harry of Bethany, who was in “Farce of Nature” in another role.

Another new character, Huddle Fisk, a shy retiree hoping that the rustic setting of the Reel ‘Em Inn will help him to release his “inner caveman,” will be portrayed by Joseph Pino of Steubenville, who joins his wife, ReGina Pino, in the cast. ReGina Pino will reprise her role as D. Gene’s undercover cop sister, Maxie Wilburn Suggs. Sierra Mortimer of Weirton also is back as Jenna Sealy Wilburn, Ty’s wife.

Mendel is confident that the actors in new or different roles “… are adding a dynamic that is a bit different to the ensemble.” She explained that “I have encouraged them to make the parts their own, and they are doing well.” As for the newcomers to the cast, “They have meshed in so easily with the original cast members that it is almost like they have always been at the Reel ‘Em Inn,” she concluded.

Mendel praised the entire cast’s dedication to the show and to each other. “They work as a team, assisting each other along the way,” she said, adding that, “Individually and collectively, my cast is phenomenally talented, which makes my job really easy.”

Mendel offered an explanation of the cast members’ ability to portray characters so unlike their real-life selves. “They understand human nature and portray it not only to tickle the audience’s funny bones but also to convey the universal qualities we all share, and they don’t cower from making fun of themselves,” she reported.

For all Playhouse productions, Friday and Saturday performances begin at 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Reservations for all performances are available by calling or texting the Playhouse at 304-737-3344.

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