‘Fruitcakes’ the recipe for fun-filled and touching evening of holiday cheer

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The Fruitcakes cast includes 15 kids, including (left to right) Ashlyn Koehn, Ella Buckman, Rowan Janes, Hannah Koehn, Trace Moser, Ruby Koeller, Mariah Moser, Aiyana Janes, Christopher Lange, Sam Frailey, Macy McGeough, Gretel Moser, Tucker Bolsinger, Layia Koeller and Taryn Moser. (Submitted photos)

Two sisters (Lori Frailey and Mary Beth Specht) get some help from Jamie (Christopher Lange) in baking hundreds of fruitcakes for the village in the play Fruitcakes. The Elkader Opera House Players will present shows Dec. 6-8 and 13-15.

The Elkader Opera House Players are proud to present the holiday comedy Fruitcakes over the next two weekends. Written by Julian Wiles, this family-friendly play is just the recipe for a fun-filled and touching evening of holiday cheer. Jamie, a kid who has run away from home, at first thinks the town’s inhabitants are nuttier than fruitcakes, but soon he comes to admire, appreciate and adore this quirky little town. It’s a moving story of alienation, understanding and reconciliation.

“When I first read this script, I laughed, grew to love the characters, and then cried at the end,” said Cheri Moser, who directs Fruitcakes with her dad, Craig Strutt. “So that is our goal for this show: make the audience fall in love with this make-believe town and also make them want to go home afterwards and hug the people they love. What more could you want from a holiday show?”

Fruitcakes features Cary Kann as Mack, a grandfather who befriends Jamie, played by Ed-Co sixth grader Christopher Lange. 

“My character loves everything about this weird town, but he’s also still growing and doesn’t really know right from wrong at the start. All the people help him realize what’s important,” Lange detailed. “The character resembles me a lot actually. He’s sarcastic and kind of sassy.”

Moser said she’s been especially impressed with Lange’s performance.

“His role goes from angry to silly to some very emotional moments, and he knocks them all out of the park,” she shared.

Other cast members include Mary Beth Specht and Lori Frailey, who play two bickering elderly spinsters. Jonathon Moser portrays Beebo, the town’s only police office, and David Beck brings to life Skeeter, a fisherman who catches fish by reciting Shakespeare. 

Also in the cast are Audra Janes, Donna Anderson, Jon Banse and the children of McCord’s Ferry, Ga.: Tucker Bolsinger, Ella Buckman, Aiyana Janes, Rowan Janes, Ashlyn Koehn, Hannah Koehn, Layia Koeller, Ruby Koeller, Macy McGeough, Gretel Moser, Taryn Moser and Trace Moser. The Mosers, Koellers and McGeough are all students at MFL MarMac.

The cast of 23 people is made up of eight adults and 15 kids, who range in age from 5 to 15. Eight individuals are making their Opera House Player debuts. The group comes from Edgewood, McGregor, Garnavillo, Elkader, Strawberry Point and Prairie du Chien.

“I think the audience will enjoy getting to know the quirky characters,” said Prairie du Chien resident Lori Frailey, who plays one of the sisters, Miss Alice. “The personality of Alice resonates with me and exploring her character has given me some new insight into who I am and what drives me. I’d have to say that I am also a bit of a ‘Fruitcake’ and proud of it.”

Moser said there are a lot of fun things the audience can look forward to, including a lighted Christmas hog that explodes, hundreds of fruitcakes and a huge Christmas light display that takes place in the second act.

“This show captures the true meaning of Christmas, a little with a nativity story, but mostly with reminders of the importance of family and forgiveness,” she added.

Fruitcakes performance dates are Dec. 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 8 at 2 p.m., Dec 13 and 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec 15 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available by calling (563) 873-2378, emailing tickets@icsbbs.com, visiting Elkader Floral or going online to www.operahouseplayers.com.

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