By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
Due to a lack of interest, this year’s fair musical, to have been “The Fantastiks,” has been cancelled.
That announcement was made by Imperial Community Player s President Jeremy Vlasin in a “letter to the editor” a month ago.
However, there’s still been some confusion about the fact. It was printed in the fair brochure before the musical was cancelled.
Vlasin and Director Aaron Behrends of Wauneta had only one person show up for two separate tryouts. The two called people, but couldn’t get enough people to commit to put on the production. Vlasin said he’d even chosen a production that didn’t have a large cast.
Although Vlasin said every year he’s had to recuit people, and has never had enough people audition to fill a cast, this was the first time he didn’t have enough to fill the leads.
“We didn’t feel comfortable taking any more time, with a time crunch” on rehearsals, he said.
Vlasin said he felt bad having to call off the musical because it affects his grandparents’ generation.
“They paved the way for this nice community and we’re not giving back,” he said, adding that grandparents also make up a large part of the audience.
“Maybe it (cancelling) will be a wake-up call to the community that we need volunteers,” he said.
Even last year, when “Big River” was scheduled to be produced, Vlasin had to change the musical to “Pump Boys and Dinettes,” because not enough people tried out. “Pump Boys” had a smaller cast.
Two years ago the musical was to have been “Smoke on the Mountain.” Again, not enough people were found for the cast, and the fair musical became a combination of numbers from “Smoke” and a variety show.
Don Newman was in the cast of “Charlie’s Aunt,” the first production the Players put on in 1981. He was also in the first fair outdoor musical cast of “Oklahoma” the next year.
He’s been in about 10 musicals.
Cancelling the musical, he said, “indicates a lack of commitment, in the musical and in a lot of things like clubs and church, too.”
Newman said participating in the musical took a lot of the summer.
Several years ago, Newman said, he tried to put on a melodrama. He called many people and advertised, and couldn’t get a full cast.
“It’s disheartening. People love to see ‘em, and have ‘em put on,” he said.
Christy Boggs, now of both Imperial and Kearney, directed 13 musicals.
“I don’t think people realized how hard I had to work to get people in. I had to work around schedules and ‘schmooze’ people.”
Boggs said the talent pool is here in Imperial, but people have to make a commitment.
“I think it’s very sad” that the musical was cancelled. “They’re missing out on a wonderful opportunity.”
Boggs said she wouldn’t trade the time and energy she spent directing for anything in the world.
“The payback is more than I could have dreamed it would have been,” she said.
Vlasin said that for years a core group of people kept Imperial Community Players going. In effect, one generation passed the torch to the next.
What is the future of musicals and melodramas in Imperial if he is the only one his age who tried to participate in one this summer?
“I’d like to be hopeful and say that it’s going to keep going, but I don’t know if we have enough young people interested and to commit time,” he said.
Vlasin added, “As young people in the community we have to keep organizations going or we won’t get young people coming back.”