American history, just for laughs

You will giggle. You will groan. You will get wet.

At least that is the promise for the front row audience of “The Complete History of America: Abridged,” an interactive and heavily satirical look at our country over the years, presented by Mid-Ohio Valley Players.

“I think the audience will have fun with this,” said director Kevin Paskawych. “We ask the audience questions, get them moving around, and when have you ever gone to a show where you get to shoot the actors with a water pistol?”

The intimate cast of historians/comedians includes Karen Pratt-Paskawych, George Litman, Corey Rutter, Robin Kelby, Scott Buchanan and Dyrk Lang.

“This is actually my first year with MOVP but I have already done three shows including ‘The Pink Panther,’ a play written by local playwright Jason Half called ‘Sundial’ and then this show,” said Lang, 22, of Marietta. “It has been an absolute joy working with this cast and I am very thankful for this group.”

Lang and his cast members all portray multiple characters from history, including Amerigo Vespucci and Meriwhether Lewis. In one scene, Lang explained, he portrays both Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

“This show is a very modern-themed comedy, and we poke fun at everything from George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, to the founding fathers, the colonists, and even Christopher Columbus and the first Americans,” Paskawych said. “But it’s not a political statement … it’s just goofy, high energy. We want people to come have fun with us.”

This fast-paced 90-minute comedy has been deemed “intellectual vaudeville” and “The Daily Show” as done by the Marx Brothers, and is the creation of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, an American acting troupe formed in California in 1981.

“It may ruffle some feathers but only enough to get people thinking,” Lang said. “It is just absolutely hilarious but also informative.”

“The Complete History of America: Abridged” opens Friday and runs for three weekends. Opening night tickets are buy one, get one free. More information can be found on the group’s website, midohiovalleyplayers.org.

Also coming up June 21, MOVP will host the southeast regional OCTAfest for the Ohio Community Theatre Association, in conjunction with Community Theater month in Ohio.

“We have two plays from other theaters – ‘The Importance of Being Ernest,’ and ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ – and our own play ‘God of Carnage,’ directed by Geoff Coward,” explained Billie Harmon, a longtime MOVP member and the theater’s representative to OCTA. “Adjudicators from all over the state will be here to offer critiques or praise of the plays and the best play will go on to the state festival.”

Registration will begin at 9 a.m. and tickets are $10. Each excerpt, including setup time, will be about 40 minutes.

“This gives us a peep into what other theaters are doing and a chance to meet and greet others in the community theater world,” Harmon said. “For the audience, it is a chance to show support of your community theater.”