'Sneaky Fitch' rusles up lots of laughs in Salem

By Eric McCrea



Salem Community Theatre treats audience members to a knee-slapping rootin’ tootin’ good time with its current production “The Death and Life of Sneaky Fitch” by James L. Rosenberg.

Director Sam Luptak Jr. found a hilarious cast that is perfect for all the visual gags, running jokes and cheesy slapstick found in “Sneaky Fitch.” Helping the show mosey along, Terrence S. Krepps sings in between scenes, using a repertoire that humorously relates to the story.

The town of Gopher Gulch lives by the Code of the West, but Sneaky Fitch, played by Stephen Koontz doesn’t quite fit in. The upstanding citizens don’t get too upset when Sneaky winds up dead, but then he crashes his own funeral, and everyone assumes he can’t be killed.

This sudden shift in power creates havoc for the townspeople, leading them to consider some drastic measures. Will the town ever find a way to get their normal lives back?

Koontz handled the anti-hero role eloquently, delivering a good balance of dislikable qualities and charm. He resolved everything amicably in a great moment of awareness.

Ron Altomare showed versatility as Rackham, the town’s fastest draw. In the first two acts, he was a bit upstaged by the big characters around him, but he rallied in the third act, making a big impression on the audience.

Elainie Huncik made an impressive showing as the dusky Maroon, perhaps the bravest resident of Gopher Gulch, willing to break the Code of the West in order to save the town.

Zeke Ellis was incredibly dynamic as the Rev. Stanley Blackwood. His timing was notably good, and his shifts from Reverend to Banker were well executed.

Terry Vest played Mervyn Vale, the funeral director always quick with the tape measure. His subdued and monotonous tone was a nice contrast in this cast, like a wise desert turtle amongst coyotes.

Richard Haldi reprised his role as the Dying Cowboy. He was an unforgettable addition to the cast, and he was a master at physical comedy.

Kaleb McFarland was dependably great as the briefly serving Sheriff Jack Oglesby. It would have been great to have seen more of him.

Rosemarie Martinez and Lynne Peterson had great chemistry as Mrs. Vale and Mrs. Blackwood respectively.

The entire ensemble played a big role, as they were often all collected on stage. In shows like this, smaller roles can frequently come off more as extra scenery, creating the setting with costumes, but this ensemble had a fun charm, making Gopher Gulch seem like a nice place to live.

“The Death and Life of Sneaky Fitch” will run Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and today and May 6 at 2 p.m. For reservations, call the theater at 330-332-9688 or visit www.salemcommunitytheatre.org for more information.

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