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Examiner
  • A cast of all ages in 'Last Tango'

  • Don’t go looking for a deep philosophical meaning out of Encore Theatre’s latest production, “Last Tango in Pango Pango.”

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  • Don’t go looking for a deep philosophical meaning out of Encore Theatre’s latest production, “Last Tango in Pango Pango.”
    It isn’t there, says the comedic farce’s cast, which ranges in ages from 12 to 87.
    “It’s just flat-out good comedy – it’s so funny,” said director Marcia Armstrong. “If (the audience) wants an evening or an afternoon full of laughs, they need to come and refresh themselves with a good time.”
    With costumes consisting of grass skirts and leis, “Last Tango in Pango Pango” combines Children’s Performing Theatre actors with Encore Theatre’s cast of those 50 and older, a trend that is taking place more often in recent productions.
    The roles of Alpha, Beta and Gamma, originally written for girls, went to several Children’s Performing Theatre regular cast members. Several younger cast members also play the non-speaking, yet vital, roles of palace guards.
    “I enjoy working with the combination of the ages,” said Armstrong, who also recently started directing the Children’s Performing Theatre winter production at the Sermon Center. “I’ll just direct anywhere they’ll let me direct.”
    The show wraps up its two-weekend run Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Roger T. Sermon Center in Independence. Set in 1880, Shipwreck Nelly (portrayed by Encore Theatre veteran Karen Puhr) is up to no good. She’s determined to bury the show’s hero, C.S. Hornforester (portrayed by Armstrong’s husband, Dale), out back under a rosebush.
    Sharon Wyzard, who portrays Little Kissy Kelly, is returning to Sermon Theatre after her work schedule forced her to take a three-year hiatus from the stage.
    “I always wanted to be here,” Wyzard said, smiling, “but work wouldn’t allow it.”
    Even backstage, in the Green Room, the show’s actors and production crew make jokes among one another – and while the show bears the name of Encore Theatre, the age differences are forgotten across the generations.
    “We’re a fun group, and we have a lot of fun together,” Marcia Armstrong said.
    What keeps Puhr coming back for show after show? She, too, smiles. Her cast mates describe her as “a ham at heart.” 
    “Well, you know, old habits die hard,” Puhr said. “I love it. I love this group of people. I love being on the stage. I don’t know – it’s just fun. It’s a real special group of people. It really is.”
     

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