This quirky script by Tom Clue and Spike Manton jumps back and forth in time, as Don (Joe Baumann) remembers childhood vacations with his father (Mike Stewart). The white cap of "boyhood" comes out (a helpful clue to what time zone we are seeing) and Don is once again a child, fighting with his charming, adorable brat of a sister (Micaela Procopio) and dealing with Dad's idea of a fascinating vacation, and mom's (Heidi Maahs) enforcement of good times and good behavior.
Joe Baumann is the heart of the show, as both boy and man, sharing his nostalgia, frustrations, regrets and laughs with the audience. Mike Stewart is perfect as Dad, driving the family crazy with his oblivious enthusiasm, but always with love. Heidi Maahs embodies the essence of The Mom, both deferring to her husband and exerting her own authority. (I loved the "who's driving?" scene.) The elfin Micaela Procopio is adorably "bad" as Sis, picking on her brother and charming her father with antic energy.
The "multiple characters" are a delight, playing all the road-trip folks the family meets along the way. My hubby Mark was kindly, creepy, disgruntled, and folksy in his various characters, joined by the benevolent Sue Chmurynsky as Grandma and Judy. Marie Papciak was annoyingly pained by bursitis, and delightfully drunk in the hotel (loved the migrating false eyelash). Adam Bright juggled the most characters and was distinctive in each one; I particularly liked the Civil War Guy and the Cart Guy... watch that slope! Sierra Olson contrasted the underplayed Fruit Cart Gal and Hotel Maid with the motor-mouthed waitress Jessie. Grace Hinkley was almost unrecognizable metamorphosing from airhead announcer to tough mechanic and earnest Shopping Lady. Justin Brewer rounded out the cast as a goofy good 'ol boy mechanic.
The "set" is just a few blocks deftly arranged around a stage floor painted by Justin Brewer with a blacktop road passing through the state of Iowa. Light and Sound were major players in establishing and enhancing each scene - kudos to Tim Fox. The sound effects are ubiquitous; they came with the script, but required selection of various options and constant attention by operator Tamara Hicks-Syron, who put went above and beyond to get all that computer stuff to work. The depth of character and the clockwork of scene changes were masterminded by Director Michael Schacherbauer. As a Riverwalk board member, I was "producer of this show, and I'm proud that Michael's 100th show is his first one directing at Riverwalk.
Don't miss LEAVING IOWA - Thursdays through Sundays ending Feb. 16. It's a nostalgic taste of summer in the middle of this Too Much Winter.