The Tellico Community Players are hosting through Sunday a variety show of one-act plays paired with a buffet dinner from Little Italy Restaurant.
Through Friday, attendees can expect a buffet 6-7:15 p.m. with the show starting at 7:30 p.m. A buffet will run noon-1:15 p.m. with the show at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
The one-act plays offer a unique experience for attendees to view four 30-minute plays — “Sunday Dinner,” “Key Lime Pie,” “A Candle on the Table,” and “Ya Wants Fries with That?” — each directed by different individuals in one night.
Tickets for the evening, which include the dinner and show, are $31 and can be purchased at www.tellicocommu nityplayhouse.org. For more information, contact Len Willis at 423-519-9807 or lentrishwillis @tds.net.
Sauni Rinehart, TCP artistic director, said the production is a way for the Players to keep Villagers engaged and interested.
“The theater tries once a year to put on some kind of special event that is different from our main stage shows,” Rinehart said. “We have done everything from reader’s theater to outreach to children, and we wanted to do something a little bit different. We wanted to bring in new directors to our theater, and we thought what’s better than dinner theater. People love to eat. People love to go to the theater. Len Willis, who was our former artistic director, he had the vision for all of this.”
Each play circles the theme of food. While there will be comedy, Rinehart expects some “poignant moments.”
Rinehart’s play, “A Candle on the Table,” is about three women in a nursing home who are placed at a dinner table together. They share wisdom and life lessons with some comedic moments scattered throughout.
Lisa Silverman, “Sunday Dinner” director, said her play is about a family trying to iron out issues. She anticipates viewers will see parts of their own families within the characters on stage. She said the play has “comedy for sure” but with “moments of authenticity.”
Tony Licata, “Key Lime Pie” director and TCP technical director, said his comedy is full of ridiculousness centered around two sisters searching for a lost wedding ring.
Annette Dufty, “Ya Want Fries with That?” director, knows her slapstick play about a restaurant will leave the audience laughing at the “buffoonery” of the situation.
These one-act plays are a first for Silverman, Licata and Dufty in the realm of directing with TCP.
A show consisting of various one-act plays holds its own challenges, Silverman said.
“Coordinating the stage, the setting, the lighting, the cast even,” she said. “There are some folks that are double cast and scheduled. Each play has its own set of challenges and its own uniqueness and they’re not necessarily all similar. I think we’ve done a really amazing job of trying to unify, share one space, one lighting system, one set to the best of our ability.”
Silverman’s play has seven characters, which poses a unique coordination challenge. However, she has appreciated the opportunity to work with new people through the experience.
Dufty said there are positive differences between directing a two-hour play instead of one that’s 30 minutes.
“Well, the responsibility of handling a full two hours with your cast and crew, on the one hand is certainly much more time,” she said. “We have a smaller window of time, which has been for me easier. I didn’t have to pull it out that long. On the other hand, you have less time to fully develop your scenes and your characters and that’s such a crucial part of directing. It’s been wonderful working with other directors, which you never get to do. At the same time, you have to constantly be aware of the other directors and the needs that they’re having as well as you. It’s been a wonderful challenge. Any challenge is always exciting.”
Rinehart said the backstage crew are “unsung heroes” for each production.
For Licata, having other directors available made him more comfortable in new territory.
“The experience has been definitely a challenge and has pushed me to limits I didn’t know I could push myself,” he said. “The experience of working with the people that I have, the cast members, the other directors that have been here, I’ve been able to feed off of them. Hopefully, I was able to say something to them that was helpful to someone. But at least it was something that I didn’t feel like I was there all by myself, floating in the ocean of despair. There was always somebody that I could turn and talk to and say, ‘Hey, what about this? What about that?’ And just working with everybody on my cast has been terrific. The crew here — light, sound, props, makeup — they’ve been behind stage. They’ve all been so supportive.”