Masquers' latest tugs the holiday season's heartstrings

Jessica Hogge, in the role of Nora, looks all twitterpated at Lui Navarro, in the role of Dwain, during a scene of "Sleeping Indoors," opening next month at Masquers' Theater.

“Sleeping Indoors,” a dramedy by Jim Holt and directed by first-timer Kathleen Stahl opens at Soap Lake’s Masquers Theater next month, with a story as wild offstage as onstage.

The play tells the tale of a man struggling on the streets named Dwain , (Lui Navarro) welcomed into a stranger’s home during the holidays.

Nora (Carrie Rutherford), welcomes him with open arms, when her husband Paul (Greg Becker) finds out, he begins to fear the worst. Instead, what happens is a mix of romance, optimism, and regret, especially when Nora’s sister, Nicole (Jessica Hogge) enters the mix, and starts batting eyes at the guest, who’s a little put off by the sudden attention and who has other things in mind, for a while.

The show is not suitable for people 15 years old or younger, due to some grown-up topics and strong language.

“I don’t know about you, but I would not want my 5-year-old hearing, ‘You’re a drunken slut!’” Stahl said, referring to one of the lines of the play, curiously, one not said in anger.

Stahl, a first-time director, says she cried the first time she read the play from cover to cover.

“It’s a very moving story,’ she said. “There are family dynamics at play, between Nora and Paul. Her son is away so she’s empty-nesting, and the sister is kind of the failed sister, unattached and spending a lot of time with Nora and Paul. Nora decides to do something nice and brings in a homeless person.”

What Nora also does, Stahl said, is force her family to face its own preconceived notions about what a homeless person is like, once Dwain enters the picture.

Stahl said that the board that runs the theater was looking for a Christmas show, and with COVID-19 in mind, they decided to pick a show with a small cast, and one composed of mostly adults.

Only four people appear on stage during “Sleeping Indoors” and they all can purchase cigarettes.

“Typically during Christmas we do kid shows and that would be my preference but at the time (of the decision), back in April, we weren’t even sure if they were going to shut us down again,” said Stahl. “So we were looking for a small cast, adults and a short play.”

It worked, even though there have been some unforeseen obstacles, such as having to rehearse with the stage set up for Moon Over Buffalo, the Masquers’ last show before this one.

“I trust these guys,” Stahl said of her cast. “They are all veterans and they want to be here. It’s them, it’s not me, they are amazing.”

The show opens December 3 and runs for two weekends closing December 12.

Showtimes are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

“It’s not your happy-happy Christmas story, but the sad is not a bad sad,” she said. “You’re going to feel. You’re going to have laughs but you might cry, too.”

Tickets are available by calling 509-246-2611 or visiting the theater’s website at: www.masquers.com.

“We wanted it to happen,” Stahl said of the show and its cast, “and it’s going to happen.”

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