Tin Shop to perform patriotic musical to honor America

Published 9:36 am Thursday, June 8, 2017

Alice Kring was not going to direct another musical.

“Last year, after [Musical Director] Judy [Earnst] and I got done directing a melodrama musical, I said, ‘I am not doing any more musicals,’” she said. “[Later that day] I get to my office, and I open an email from Pioneer Drama, [and it is] their ‘long-lost wonderful musicals.’ I just thought it was God’s way of saying, ‘Alice, you gotta do another musical!’”

Kring is the treasurer at the Tin Shop Theatre in Buchanan, and she is the director of this month’s play — a musical — “We the People.”

Written by Pat Cook with music and lyrics by Bill Francoeur, the musical is an ode to the American patriotic spirit.

“[The musical] is very uplifting,” said Julie Blaylock, an actress in the play. “It really makes you think about your country, and what’s important in your country. I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Kring decided against performing the play around Memorial Day or Independence Day because it is a busy time for many people. Instead, she decided to host the play during one of America’s quieter patriotic holidays, Flag Day.

“We actually have a performance on Flag Day, and the weekend before and the weekend after,” she said.

Kring said she discovered the play during the ugliness that was the last presidential election, and she hopes the play instills “a renewed feeling about America” in the audience.

The jaunty musical begins in meta fashion, with the audience watching from cozy seats as a committee discusses the best way to put on a patriotic play. One committee member, through happenstance, has a copy of the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution handy and begins reading it aloud, and the idea is born.

This will be the first live performance for Marcus Mitchell, one of the leads in the musical and one of the members of the committee on stage, but he is not nervous.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Mitchell said. “I’m excited [for the first show]!”

For Mitchell, this performance is a family affair, as he finds himself, his wife, Nicole, and his two sons on stage. He said he has been hard at work preparing for his debut performance.

“[I have been doing] a lot of practicing,” he said. “We have our music on CD, so I listen to that a lot. And I’ve been going over and over my lines.”

Mitchell is not the only first-time performer that will be on stage Friday.

Shelley Lietz has found herself backstage most often, but she recently had an offer she could not refuse.

“My 15-year-old [daughter] said about two months ago, ‘Mom, why don’t you audition with me [for this play]?’” she said. “Well, what mom could say no to that?!”

Her daughter, Catherine, has been in several children’s productions in the past — starting at age 6 — and has a solo in “We The People.”

“It is kinda like, I am less nervous now [that I am older],” Catherine said, “It is really different because you are always wrangling little children [in children productions] and now there is not that at all!”

Patricia Baltazar, an actress in the musical and a seasoned veteran of seven different plays, said that a little bit of experience will go a long way for the new actors.

“[For me now, there is] not so much nervousness, because you kinda feel like, ‘I’ve done this, and I have an idea of how to go about it,’” she said. “That background [experience] really helps a lot.”

It is impossible to deny that the theme of family runs deep with these actors and this musical.

“What strikes me [about the play] is the emphasis on [the fact that], even though we are all so different, we can still work together, come together and come up with something really terrific, and I love that message,” Baltazar said. “Our country needs that message.

Performances of “We The People” will be at 7:30 p.m. June 9, 10, 16 and 17, and at 4 p.m. June 11 and 18 at the Tin Shop Theatre, located just south of The Common at 121 S. Oak St. in Buchanan.

Tickets will be $5 for children 12 and younger; $9 for students and seniors; and $10 for adults. Reservations may be made by calling the box office from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday at (269) 695-6464.