Get a sneak preview of the major productions in The Playmakers’ 25th Season on Tuesday, July 23, 2019, at the 1909 Gastropub, 4 West 3rd Street in Grove, OK. Get together with your friends and reserve a table by July 17. Please call 1909 at (918) 801-7518 for reservations. Supper and entertainment will be provided for $25 per person.

A scene or song from the plays, performed by some of the cast from each show, will whet your appetite for more. The schedule of each production will be available so you can mark your calendars. A portion of the cost will be donated to The Playmakers to help provide you with the best productions possible this season.

The evening opens with an open cash bar cocktail hour at 5:00 and a Victorian Supper at 6:00. The entertainment that follows features young people from “Tuck Everlasting” and a number of your favorite comedic actors from the farce “Baskerville”, the sharp-witted “Ben Butler,” a curious story unveiled in “Underneath the Lintel” and an August event, “Musings in the Wing: An Evening of Theatre and Songs"

Joanie Engel, who directed the Playmaker’s hit production, “Silver Lining,” last winter, is the guest chef for the evening. She has chosen a Victorian supper because it was discovered after planning the season that each play takes place in or was written in the Victorian era. So, you can enjoy a light salad, a hearty Shepherd’s Pie full of vegetables, coffee or tea, and 1909’s famous Bread Pudding for only $25.

Tuck Everlasting: the Musical

The Season begins with “Tuck Everlasting: the Musical,” an adaptation of the contemporary children’s classic story by Natalie Babbitt. It will be performed by eighteen of the young people in The Playmakers’ youth theatre, the Off Broadway Troupers, who are directed by Suzanne Boles. The story is well known to countless children who have read it as part of their school curriculum and by parents who have read it with their children. This family-centric show is set in Treegap, New Hampshire in 1893. Eleven-year-old Winnie Foster yearns for a life of adventure beyond her white picket fence, but not until she becomes unexpectedly entwined with the Tuck Family does she get more than she could have imagined. When Winnie learns of the magic behind the Tuck’s unending youth, she must fight to protect their secret from those who would do anything for a chance at life everlasting.

Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery

“Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery” by Ken Ludwig, is a rollicking, raucous theater farce that stays specific and detailed and fairly true to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original classic, "The Hound of the Baskervilles" even though Ludwig puts his own twist on the famous story. As with the original story, there are some 40 characters in Ken Ludwig’s "Baskerville” played by only three actors. The characters of Sherlock and Dr. Watson will be played by Pam Leptich as Sherlock and Ova Jean Siemens as Watson. The three people playing the other forty characters are Vicki King, Dave Simpson, and Ruby Moon. Don Simpson directs.

Ben Butler

In “Ben Butler,” Richard Strand lets us be a fly on the wall viewing a turning point in our history. His protagonist in this insightful and entertaining play was a real person, a Major General for the Union during the Civil War. The event that forms the story of the play is a real event as well. When a slave risked everything to secure his help during an incredibly tense moment in American history in Union-held Fort Monroe, VA on May 24th and 25th, 1861, Butler is faced with a moral dilemma. Will he uphold the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 or find a way to free the very intelligent slave? His decision actually changed the policy of managing runaway slaves. The play forms a “keen, searing drama that will make you laugh out loud, applaud and gasp at the cheeky cat-and-mouse game unfolding between a Union major general and his Lieutenant, a runaway slave, and a Confederate Major…” (The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa) The cast features Stan Starts, Josh Fletcher, Justus Fletcher. Shonna Fletcher directs for the first time. She has performed in many Playmaker productions. An actor is still needed for the character of the slave.

Underneath the Lintel: An Impressive Presentation of Lovely Evidences

“Underneath the Lintel: An Impressive Presentation of Lovely Evidences,” is part lighthearted adventure story, part ghost story about an overly strict, obsessive librarian who discovers a weather-beaten book in a return bin - 113 years overdue. Driven by messages left in its margins, he journeys on a magical quest that takes him around the world and 2,000 years into the past. Sharing the clues with us, he begins telling stories about his trek around the globe without leaving the confines of his library office. The one-man show is written by Glen Berger and played by Jonathan Elmore. His character finds a purpose outside the library stacks and discovers the simpler joys of life. The librarian’s hunt for the borrower may not be successful, but the discovery of himself stands true. It will be directed by Joanie Engel.

Musings in the Wing: An Evening of Theatre and Song

A preview of an upcoming event, “Musings in the Wing: An Evening of Theatre and Song,” will be performed by Pam Leptich and Jonathan Elmore. This event will be held in The Playmakers newly acquired room, now called the “Wing.”

Guest Chef for the Event

Joanie Engel, the guest chef for The Playmakers’ 1909 Preview of their 25th season of plays, could probably be in her own cooking show on TV.

Anyone who can talk and sing while cooking might even best Julia Child. Many actors take part time jobs while working to secure their careers, but Engle took that part time job concept a step further and opened her own restaurants wherever her developing career took her—from Florida, to New York, and then to Los Angeles.

As she said in an article in the Santa Maria Times, “It’s important to know how to please a crowd in both situations.”

Engle grew up the youngest of twelve children in Foyil, Oklahoma, working in her folks’ restaurant. From washing dishes, then vegetables, Engle was cooking for the whole family by the time she was twelve years old.

“Because we had a large garden, I started off always cooking with fresh ingredients, as my mother taught me,” said Engle.

This lesson no doubt made her Northern Italian restaurant on the west coast a success.

She worked in Florida with her sister and brother-in-law, a French Chef, learning cooking and the restaurant business and helping them open their restaurant. She also performed dinner theater in Destin, Florida. The beginning of her career path began when she moved back to Oklahoma to attend the University of Oklahoma and study acting and directing.

Engel then moved to New York City where she took classes at the Actor’s Studio while setting up a catering business to supplement her theatre career. After five years, she moved to Hollywood where she did some private coaching with young talent who are now still successful in the theatre and film businesses.

On the side, Engle managed Valentino’s Italian Restaurant in Los Angeles, then moved to the central coast area where she opened Jovana’s Restaurant while moving into the directing field.

“I hadn’t directed other than through my one on one coaching until I moved to the Central Coast. Directing had always been my first passion, so when I left Hollywood, I sought out the opportunity to direct on a larger scale. I applied to the Performing Arts Company in Arroyo Grande and was quickly hired to direct The Wizard of Oz.

I then received my teaching credentials and started teaching drama at the junior high and high school levels. I worked with a national competition team from the Central Coast in improvisation, doing everything from sets to make-up to coaching.

After that, I had my son. When he was old enough to go to school, I was hired as the artistic director at his school, The Laureate School, in San Luis Obispo, California. I created and directed all of the musical and theatrical programs, all original creations, for all grades. I also staged two purchased plays per year for the upper grades,” said Engle.

Perhaps, one day, Engle will combine her talents in one of The Playmaker’ future seasons. Perhaps re-create the character of Julia Child in "To Master the Art”?