OU-C Theater Presents Comedy With A Local Twist

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The Ohio University-Chillicothe theater program will present The Butter and Egg Man, a comedy with a local twist, at 8 p.m. on Dec. 7 and Dec. 8 in the Bennett Hall auditorium.

The play, written in 1925 by George Kaufman, features a character named Peter Jones, who hails from Chillicothe, Ohio.

Jones brings Midwestern naiveté and cash to New York, along with his intentions to invest in a theatrical production. Those qualities provide an irresistible combination for two shady big-city tycoons from Gotham, who are all too willing to separate Jones from his savings.

"The term 'Butter and Egg Man' refers to anyone who boasts of making a quick buck," explained director and OU-C faculty member Ken Breidenbaugh. "Chillicothe is the archetype for the typical Midwestern town. George Tyler, a producer from Chillicothe, worked with Kaufman, who wrote the play, and that undoubtedly influenced the use of 'Chillicothe' in the play."

"The premise involves two producers who are attempting to salvage a very bad play," Breidenbaugh continued. "The production is quite delightful and a lot of fun. It's a very 'Jazz Age' play and is about the theater, which is always enjoyable. The audience enjoys being brought into the controlled chaos of the theater. In this case, that includes parts of the play beyond the stage, such as actors, financiers, hangers-on, waiters and others."

Cast members are enjoying the production, which hearkens back to another era.

"The play is especially cool because it is set in the 1920s, and there is an old-school texture," said Lauren Scharfetter, who plays the role of Bernie Sampson. "This is about how theater use to work in the olden days, and it offers a kind of history lesson. It forces us to think about how people would react in a different setting and time period."

Rachel Abbott, who plays the role of Fanny Lehman, likes the pace of the production.

"It moves fast, like a shotgun," she said. "There is a wide range of cast members in terms of age and experience, and that brings a lot of energy to the play."

Tommy Culver plays the role of a waiter. "People may not pay much attention to him, but he always adds his opinion to the conversation. He plays attention to what goes into the production of plays and has the attitude of working in the rough world."

Jessica Akers gets to step out of character in her role as Peggy Marlow. "I get to play the role of a naughty showgirl, which is fun. It seems like things were simpler back then, and the old-fashioned values add another dimension to the play."

Tickets are available at the OU-C Box Office on the evenings of performances. Tickets are $10 for adults, $9 for senior citizens and free for OU-C students. Group rates of $8 per ticket are also available.