That's where patrons boo and hiss at the on-stage villains and cheer the upstanding hero who always saves the damsel in distress.
And it completely surprised
"The whole idea of audience participation was completely foreign to me," Ferris said. "But once I got into it, I was really into it."
She hit upon one of the secrets of success of Mantorville's summer melodramas, where audiences get to act out as much as the actors on stage.
"You can take people of literally all ages to these shows," said Ferris, who is the publicity coordinator for the
No, the melodramas are not church or school, and they are not "Hamlet." But they are wild and fun and, in Mantorville at least, highly successful.
The 42nd season of summer melodramas at the historic
Such longevity is not routine in the world of amateur theater, where underfunded community groups, like the one in Mantorville, normally struggle to survive from one show to the next.
In contrast, the
"Certainly, we have a strong group of volunteers," said
The foundation of all the success, though, appears to be fun. Actors, who in melodramas are not under pressure to delve deeply into the psyche of their characters, are clearly enjoying themselves.
"I discovered I'm a bit of a ham and melodramas are great for over-actors," Huppler said of his onstage roles.
Meanwhile, the audience, which stops just short of throwing tomatoes at the bad guys, is having a blast.
Crowds of 60 to 100 people in the 160-seat opera house are routine, Huppler said. "We need at least 30 to get the audience going," he said. "You need to have enough people so they don't feel silly when they're the only person booing."
The Opera House, built in 1918 (and rumored to be haunted), and the well-preserved nature of historic Mantorville, are other factors in drawing people to the melodramas. "It's got an aura of a place people want to visit," Huppler said.
And based on 42 years of evidence, they'll want to come back.
"We certainly look forward to many more seasons," Huppler said.
If you go
Mantorville Melodrama performances are at
"Medium at Large, or A Sault on the Senses" opens Friday and runs through
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