Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Musical comedy back by popular demand

Actors rehearse songs for "The Big Rock Candy Mountain." The musical comedy
Actors rehearse songs for “The Big Rock Candy Mountain.” The musical comedy runs from Sept. 24 to 28. Photo credit: Ben Nguyen.

After its successful debut in May, “The Big Rock Candy Mountain” is back by popular demand, set to perform at The District Theatre.

The musical comedy will be playing on Sept. 24, 25, 26, and 27 at 8 p.m. and on Sept. 28 at 2 p.m. The show centers on a band with a deep secret, who after finding themselves in a small town theater, must pose as the Good Ole Boys Bluegrass Band. As the characters attempt to escape the law and save the theater from the crazed politician who is taking over the town, an inspiring story unfolds.

“This is a night at the theater you won’t expect,” said director, producer and playwright Tristan Layne Tapscott.

Tapscott wrote the play with the cast members in mind, who have been a part of the production since May. They had all been friends and musicians since before the show began, but not all of them had performed music together before.

One of the main things that sets the show apart is the use of instruments. “The Big Rock Candy Mountain” requires multiple string instruments, and that each member of the band to has the ability to play multiple instruments.

“I am a big fan of Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers, and The Abbott Brothers,” Tapscott said. “This show has bluegrass music with modern rock ‘n roll type of feel.”

Some of the actors had never even played instruments before.

“It was five weeks from the time I picked up a banjo, to the time it was show time,” said Rocky Kampling, an actor in the performance.

However, Tapscott said the performance all came together, and everyone involved is surprised by its success.

“It seemed like a good little show, and it turned into a big phenomenon,” actor Tom Vaccaro said.

The District Theatre’s space is small, but perfect for the upcoming production, Tapscott said.

“The idea from the beginning was to do big shows in a small space,” Tapscott said. “As a director, I was adamant on making the show more about the content of the script versus the setting or scenery.”

This type of theatre also allows for interaction between audience members and actors. The actors are able to hold the audience’s attention by calling them out throughout the performance.

“We don’t have a fourth wall, we didn’t build one,” Kutzli said.

This production is part of the theatre’s new work initiative. The District will present 1 to 2 new works each season.

“Audiences get tired of seeing the same shows over and over again,” Tapscott said. “Why not introduce them to something entirely new? Why not surprise them? This area wants it and they are willing to support it; we can’t ignore that.”

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Musical comedy back by popular demand