The Panhandle Players community theatre troupe is preparing to present the second play of its shortened season, “The Corruption of Harry Finley,” written by John B. Spohrer, Jr., a local author and nature photographer.
The show is set to run from Friday to Sunday, March 26-28 at the Chapman Theatre in Apalachicola.
The play takes place in the office of The Apalachicola Weekly, whose editor, Harry Finley (Royce Rolstad) is a roundly admired man in his adopted city of Apalachicola. While well respected in the business community and supported by their patronage, Finley offers a contrary opinion on a developer’s grand plan to build condos on prime city property, and it is then the lovefest begins to frazzle.
Then there is violence; Finley’s dedication to the truth is put to the test.
It's a show that shines light on topics such as corruption and secrets faced by small towns and big cities alike.
The audience will meet a cast of characters including Alice (Alexis Schefka), the ace reporter and bookkeeper of The Weekly, who is determined to bring the truth to light. The sheriff Sam (Henry Kozlowsky) visits Finley often at his office to give him “off the record” scoops and offer advice, to try to keep him out of trouble with the locals. And there’s local developer Jimmy Fairfield (Steve Allen) who will go to extremes to see that his waterfront development comes to pass.
The no-nonsense bank president, Ms. Adkins (Sally Crown) wants nothing to do with any sleazy tactics, but does have a method of trying to convince those around her to see things her way.
Mayor Frank (Robbie Johnson) makes it his job is to convince Finley to write a favorable editorial about the proposed development, through any means necessary.
The Chamber of Commerce director (Megan Shiver) is flirtatious and a bit manipulative in her own right, while the county clerk of courts Sally Wiggins (Mishelle McPherson) has to deal with the day-to-day operation of her office while dealing with a sick child, Jonas.
The city attorney (Torben Madson) has the task of being the messenger for the mayor and those in power.
St. Joe Beach’s Judy Loftus, with an extensive history of directing plays for the theatre troupe, is taking on the director’s role.
“I’m thrilled to be directing John’s play,” Loftus said. “It’s a great story and we have a great cast bringing it to life. There will be moments that will shock you, just like it did me when I first read it.”
Spohrer is thrilled the Players have decided to produce his play. "I couldn't be more excited. I've often admired the dedication, talent and hard work of the Panhandle Players,” he said. “Having them produce my play is an honor and, I'm sure, it will be lively entertainment. I hope you can join us."
In recent years the Players have focused on presenting plays written by local writers, including shows written by Apalachicola residents Jerry Hurley and Royce Rolstad.
“We are excited to present another locally written show,” said Renee Valentine, president of the Panhandle Players. “Not many theatres in the region are doing local plays and we feel this is something that makes us stand out. This may your only chance to see this show.”
Rolstad, a Panhandle Players board member, said that last month the troupe took a chance presenting a live production. “We had our naysayers, and we didn’t know if we would succeed or fail but we were determined to at least try,” he said. “For me personally, I wanted people to enjoy the show but what I wanted to know more was how the audience reacted to our COVID protocols.
“We have not heard one negative comment from anyone who attended. From what I have read on Facebook and heard from people in person, we did a great job with our health protocols and they plan to come see the next one,” Rolstad said.
The show is being presented for one weekend only at the Chapman Theatre in Apalachicola. Seating is limited to allow for social distancing and face coverings and temperature checks will be required.
Tickets are $20 each can be purchased online at PanhandlePlayers.com or at the door. Buying online is encouraged in order to expedite entrance into the theatre.
This article originally appeared on The Apalachicola Times: Panhandle Players debuts Spohrer work