ABC Players Set Stage For Laughs With “First Things First”

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On this edition of Conversations from Studio B, Joe Balding, Cecilia Rinaldi, Leslie Heskitt, Heidi Wilhelm and Celeste Parsons discuss the ABC Players' production of First Things First, a raucous comedy of misunderstandings and timing.

The play, led by Joe Balding in his directorial debut, is the story of old friends Pete (Chris MacNeal) and George (Ken Bowald). They are such good friends that George has been Pete’s best man at both of his weddings.

Pete, now happily married to Sarah (Heidi Wilhelm), is stunned when George arrives with the news that his first wife Jessica (Cecilia Rinaldi) was not killed in a climbing accident as they had thought, but is alive and well and keen to resume her life with Pete. 

This unexpected revelation leads to a series of humorous situations as Pete and George try to find a way out of this desperate plight without upsetting either of Pete’s wives or his second wife’s powerful mother, Margot (Celeste Parsons).

The cast is rounded out by Leslie Heskitt as Alan. The world of Pete’s challenges is created by Chris Coleman’s set design, Carol Ault’s light design, Patty Witmer’s costumes, and Ardelle Donahue’s props. Suzanne Ragg is stage manager.

"I am so pleased with my wonderful cast," said Balding. "They bring this story to vivid life and to such comedic heights. I know the theater will be filled with laughter every night."

While audiences will come for laughs, they will also cheer for two community members–Sandra E. Russell and Elizabeth Bogoniewski–who will receive the Steve Haskins Memorial Scholarship on opening night. This year’s scholarships are co-sponsored by Nelsonville Buckeye Wash and J&M Commercial Painting.

Each season, the ABC Players award one or two small cash scholarships to students who have participated in ABC Players productions and are currently enrolled in college programs.

First Things First opens Thursday, May 9 at Stuart's Opera House in Nelsonville, Ohio, with additional evening performances on Friday, May 10 and Saturday, May 11 at 8 p.m. A Sunday matinee show will be held May 12 at 2 p.m.

For tickets, visit For more information, visit or find the ABC Players on Facebook.