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Prepare to laugh at coconuts, kazoos and medieval tomfoolery


Published:   |   Updated: July 18, 2014 at 09:38 AM

The Village Players’ zany new comedy, “The Canterbury Tales Or ... Geoffrey Chaucer’s Flying Circus” by Burton Bumgarner, is a mash-up of Monty Python humor with Chaucer’s medieval bawdiness.

The opening-night performance, 8 p.m., Aug. 8, at the James McCabe Theater, 506 Fifth Street, will be preceded at 7 p.m. by a fundraising dinner catered by Tammy and Paul Holmberg’s two Chick-fil-A restaurants (Lake Brandon Village and Westfield Brandon).

“If the audience has only half the fun the cast has been having, it will be time well spent,” said Director Hal Granholm. “There are times the script becomes a mere suggestion. The improv and audience participation guarantee a different show every time the curtain opens. I can hardly wait to see it myself.”

“Author Geoffrey Chaucer writes tales of villagers traveling on holiday together from London to the town of Canterbury,” said Gail Pierce, a member of the Village Players’ board of directors. “They pass the time by competing in a storytelling contest. ... Over 52 characters come to life in a zany romp of medieval mischief.”

Many of the characters are famous from “Canterbury Tales”: the Knight, the Miller, the Parson, the Pardoner, the Nun’s Priest and the Friar.

“The Wife of Bath has cleaned up her act for this adaptation and is now a nagging woman who sells self-help DVDs,” said Pierce. “There is also an unexpected appearance of the Thanksgiving Pilgrims who are caught up in the wrong century and the wrong play.”

Chaucer appears, with a case of writer’s block. Alex of Trebek hosts a “Jeopardy!” game with three contestants: Squire Bob, merchant Frankie and the returning champion, Mandy, the clerk.

Talk show host King Larry’s interviews with a doctor who specializes in bubonic plague and a case-losing lawyer “contribute a huge dose of additional irreverent fun,” said Pierce.

The cast mixes seasoned and new actors in its mission to develop new talent while creating entertaining productions.

Cast members who have performed previously with The Village Players include Terry Abbott, Tim Dionne, Madelyn Grayson, Lois Green, Vinnie Natale, Webb Pierce and Larry Sprinkle.

Tickets for the dinner and show combination are $25 per person and must be purchased in advance. Proceeds will go toward renovations of the historical James McCabe Theater. Doors open for dinner at 7 p.m.; the show starts at 8 p.m., Aug. 8.

Other evening performances will be at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7:30 p.m., Aug. 9; Aug. 14; and Aug. 16. Matinees will be at 3 p.m. (doors open at 2:30 p.m.) Sunday, Aug. 10 and 17.

The cost of the shows-without-dinner is $15, $13 for seniors, students and military with ID, and $12 per person for advance group sales of 10 or more.

Tickets may be purchased at thevillageplayersvalrico.com/home or by calling (813) 643-8292 and leaving name, phone number and number in party.

Send notices of community interest to Barbara Routen, freelance correspondent, at Barbara.Routen@gmail.com.

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