Bonding friendships come full circle

Published 12:24 pm Tuesday, January 11, 2005

By By MIKELL FREY / Niles Daily Star
Over the past couple months the Four Flags Players, a recently reinstated thespian group that has been on hiatus since 1983, has been hard at work organizing and practicing a performance of playwright Dee Dee Baker's C.O.D., an acronym for Cuties of Decatur, for Niles patrons.
Cuties of Decatur is a play about six women from Decatur, Ind., who reunite after 30 years and fall back into the tightly woven circle they established in high school. Based on Baker's real life, the play offers a little something for everyone.
Todd Wakevainen, director of the performance, said, "It actually applies to a wide spectrum of people."
Wakevainen is not only the director of this play though, he is also the man behind the reinstatement of community theater in Niles. The Four Flags Players group was originally established in 1973 by the Greater Niles Community Recreation Board. The theater group, which featured young thespians under the age of 21, stayed together for 10 years.
In 2004, Wakevainen, one of the original members of the group, brought the Four Flags Players back to Niles, this time with no age cap. Since its new establishment the group has performed Love Letters on Valentine's Day of 2004, a murder mystery dinner theater and three shows at Riverfront Park.
The six women cast in Baker's play, five from Niles and one from South Bend, have been rehearsing together since early November every Monday through Friday from 6 to 9 p.m.
Patricia Eycleshymer, an actor in the play and one of the key organizers of the production, is excited about the reinstatement of the Four Flags Players and the Cuties of Decatur production.
As the month before the opening night winds down the Niles group, which includes a blend of actors new to the stage and long time thespians, have really begun to buckle down. Members of the cast include Vicki Schoff, Cathy Heide, Pat Berardi, Marilyn Haslett, Patty Eycleshymer and Marty Smith. Performance dates are set for 8 p.m. Feb. 2-6 at The Niles Corner, Second and Main streets, on the upper level.
The theater space seats 56 people, and 25 tickets have already been sold. Ticket prices are set at $10 per ticket, $9 for groups of 10 or more and $5 for students. For more information call Lisa Croteau at (269) 687-4332, or call to reserve tickets at (269) 695-0236. If available, tickets will also be sold at the door.