February 19, 2014

The Old West comes to the stage at Wytheville Community College on February 28 as WCC Theatre presents The Chicken Count of Wytheville, a musical melodrama.

Presented as part of the year-long events celebrating Wytheville Community College’s 50th anniversary, The Chicken Count is a ridiculous spoof, full of impossible situations, lots of local references, and plenty of made-up facts.

For example, the action begins long ago, when Wytheville, a booming town on the western frontier, is threatened by that most infamous of villains, the evil Count Sonasty (played by Robert Burnett). It seems that Sonasty is buying up all the real estate in Wytheville to use as breeding space for his pedigreed poultry. Lily (Barbara Brown), owner of the Plug Nickel Saloon, vows to fight Sonasty with the help of the local sheriff (Ralph Brewer), a newspaper reporter (Logan Thomas), her loyal barkeep (Antuan Washington), and her band of dance hall girls (Elizabeth Smith, Samantha Greer, Cheryl Viars).

Fearsome gunslinger Black Bart (Clint Helton) and Bedealia (Carol Easter), a crafty entertainer, plot to help Sonasty with his wicked schemes to turn Wytheville into one big chicken coop and to discover the secret past of the mysterious new girl in town (Shareen Williams). The action heats up when a crackpot prospector (Michael Easter) makes a shocking discovery, and chaos erupts at the Plug Nickel! Though the action takes some twists and turns, all ends well in true melodramatic fashion—secrets are revealed, lovers unite, and good fortune abounds for all!
The Chicken Count was first produced at WCC in 1996, and Director Janice Pryor says the audiences enjoyed it so much then that she decided to bring it back in celebration of WCC’s 50th anniversary. “I think the audiences like it because they are active participants in the drama, booing the villains, cheering on the hero, and even deciding how the play will end. The only thing the audience doesn’t get to do,” laughs Pryor, “is throw food at the actors—we hope!”

“The show is fun for the audience,” says Pryor, “as well as the cast—and this is a big cast.” Also featured in the production are Lillian Jarrett, Olivia Brewer, Brinkley Hash, Lily Viars, Olivia Havens, Caleb Spencer, Will Wagner, William Jarrett, Gavin Kime, Lianna Dillon, Chantelle Dillon, and Rebecca Riggle.

As always, there is plenty going on behind the scenes to support the cast. Roger Dean Grubb, stage designer, has brought the Plug Nickel Saloon to life with his colorful set, all of which will be easy to see with Elizabeth Smith’s effective lighting design! Of course, there is no musical without the musicians, and accompanist/arranger Carter Edmondson will skillfully highlight the singers and dancers.

The Chicken Count will be performed February 28-March 1 and March 7-8, beginning at 8:00 pm each night in the Snyder Auditorium on the WCC campus. General admission for the show is $5; $4 for students and senior citizens. There are no reserved seats for this show, but the box office will open 30 minutes before each performance. If you have questions, please call Janice Pryor at 276-223-4795.


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