In the annals of musical/mystery theatre there’s never been a more venerable and, yes, stubborn success than the hit show “Possum and Taters” which began it’s 118th year last Friday night at the Flubug Playhouse. What began as a glorified minstral show has grown into a stage and entree masterpiece that promises to delight audiences far into the future, and “possum-bly” the next century!
From the open strains of “Whoop ‘im On Down” to the final chords of “Ya’ll Best Warsh If Ya Wants To Et,” the production hummed seamlessly as the packed house savored their taters and every note. The story line is, of course, timeless. Papa Glitch cajoles a wily possum with dreams of becoming a family pet while luring him toward a waiting kettle. Possum, a lietmotif for the eternal trickster, endears himself to daughter “Ditsy” in an attempt to become a beloved family member and escape his fate.
The snappy tunes, clever pratter and letter-perfect clogging have always delighted audiences, but this year several new cast members give the show a renewed relevance. Sonata, local animal rights crusader and past life spelunker, replaces Bethany Kingman as “Ditzy.” And she couldn’t be more perfect for the part. Her sprightly nature and slim physique make her the perfect choice for a part that’s played mostly from wires. Sonata’s work with animals also gives her a credibility Kingman lacked, especially in the final show when the possum actually bit her. She also puts theater-goers at ease. Many were understandably shocked when Kingman developed a rare vein disorder at The Ditch and wondered aloud if the show had played to its final house.
But Sonata has put those fears to rest!
Another high note was stuck by Poo Henderson, former frontman for Three Time Losers, who brought down the house, almost literally, when a shovel slipped from his hand in his role as “Herc,” the suave yet charming gravedigger. Luckily no one was hurt.
Our own Fletch Kettlefish, who wrote for The Bugle until he regained consciousness, offered up a rave performance as “Glitch” replete with chuggin’ and cakewalkin’ and a zealous rendition of “Can’t Drink From My Jug” that had the whole house singing and tapping right to the end.
But perhaps the most auspicious moment came when Horst Mulebratten, the irasicible Possum, read from the Haunted Ballad, a ballard most Flubuggers know by heart, accompanied by Sneaky Pete on dobro, and Sadie and Peony Gunther on autoharp.
“Lookin’ for me, up in a tree; you an’ Ol’ Spot; try to git me in a pot; but you and dat ol’ jug done gone an’ lost the plug; Sose many possums be, tain’t none o’ them is me!”
Tickets are $45 and the show runs….well… forever!