WHAT COMES NEXT?

Following the death of a beloved Second Samuel resident, a secret is revealed about her life which has the townspeople wondering what their next move should be. Pictured here debating the matter are, from left: Amy Peterson, as Marcela; Amanda Carpenter, as Ruby; Hannah Towne, as Jimmy DeeAnne; Alan Dalton, as Doc; Carter Chrivia, as B-Flat; and Suzan Dunham, as Omaha Nebraska.

EAST TAWAS – If you think your small town has its secrets, Second Samuel, Georgia just might give you a run for your money.

The Tawas Bay Players presented Pamela Parker’s “Second Samuel” this past weekend, with an opening night performance on Friday.

If the standing ovation from the crowd was any indication, this is a play not to be missed.

“Second Samuel” is categorized as a drama, but there are also plenty of laughs throughout the production, which has been given a PG-13 rating.

The show opens with B-Flat, played by Carter Chrivia, sharing some of the history of the small town of Second Samuel.

It is the late 1940s and those in the community are reeling from the death of Miss Gertrude, a beloved resident who was described by all as kind, sweet and polite.

The townspeople include Frisky, played by Eric Perrot; Curtis Davenport as US; Terry Popielarz as Mansel; Rodger McElveen as Mr. Mozel; Suzan Dunham as Omaha Nebraska; Hannah Towne as Jimmy DeeAnne; Amy Peterson as Marcela; Alan Dalton as Doc; Dave Duda as June Cline; and Amanda Carpenter and Tina Wells, who alternate in the role of Ruby.

Each of the characters brought something entertaining and special to the production, which isn’t always the case with a larger cast.

Dunham, for example, showed exemplary acting chops, Chrivia effortlessly hit the emotional nerves of the crowd and Peterson earned plenty of laughs for her feisty demeanor – and distaste for the snobby Jimmy DeeAnne.

The settings include the hair and beauty emporium owned by Omaha, where the women gather to get their gossip fix.

The men of the town also share their stories of Second Samuel while meeting at the local watering hole, Bait & Brew, owned by Omaha’s husband, Frisky.

As described by B-Flat, the establishment is where one can find red eyes and red wigglers, as the Bait & Brew caters to both the drinking and fishing needs of those in the town.

As the friends discuss the loss of Miss Gertrude, they realize just what an impact she had on their lives, with Frisky sharing that he may never have met his wife if not for Gertrude, who secretly set the two up.

US recalled Gertrude staying at his house for some time to help with the children when his wife became sick.

Ruby, an employee at Omaha’s salon, said Gertrude came in every week and treated her with as much respect as she did the owner.

Just as the first act comes to a close, however, the townspeople get the shock of their lives when an unsuspected secret is revealed about Miss Gertrude.

Prior to the revelation, everyone in Second Samuel was working to ensure Miss Gertrude had the proper funeral – except for Mr. Mozel, who doesn’t care much for anyone in the town.

The others were busy deciding on flower arrangements, what food to bring and Omaha was set on doing Miss Gertrude’s hair so she looked as beautiful as possible for the service.

Upon hearing of Miss Gertrude’s secret, though, many of the people in Second Samuel soon forget all the good she had possessed, and focus instead on her personal matters.

B-Flat was an exception. He was viewed by the townspeople as not exactly the smartest person, but his reaction to Miss Gertrude’s secret had US commenting that the young man had more sense than everyone in Second Samuel put together.

The residents even considered not allowing the funeral to take place in the town, but B-Flat fought for the honor of Miss Gertrude.

“Secrets ain’t nothin’. Everybody’s got ‘em,” he said.

B-Flat struggled with how quickly the townspeople turned their back on Miss Gertrude, just because she was different. He insisted she was still the same person, regardless of what she kept hidden from others.

And Doc pointed out that each of the residents had their own peculiarities they would rather have kept to themselves.

An important lesson is learned in Second Samuel, as the characters discover that they, too, are different from one another. US faces criticism from Mr. Mozel for the color of his skin, B-Flat’s thoughts are often dismissed because he isn’t considered to be very intelligent and Mansel is viewed as an elaborate story teller not to be taken seriously.

Loving one another is a simple concept, yet it is often ignored when a person’s choices, lifestyle or beliefs are different from one’s own.

This was the case for Miss Gertrude, as no one had a single bad thing to say about her until her secret was announced.

“Second Samuel,” despite its sometimes heavy subject matter, is pleasant in its simplicity and breezes along, leaving the crowd with something to think about long after the play is over.

It is a touching production with a talented cast, and Donna Thomas did outstanding work as a first-time director.

“Nobody here is paid. We do it because we love it,” she told attendees at the start of the play. And that love clearly showed through with the actors, who appeared to genuinely care about their roles and the powerful messages weaved within the production.

“Second Samuel” continues this week, May 18-21, with 7 p.m. showings on Thursday through Saturday and a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.

Tickets are $11 and can be purchased online at www.tawasbayplayers.com.

The box office, located within the playhouse at 401 Newman Street in East Tawas, will also open one hour before each performance for ticket sales, and will be open today (Wednesday) from 5-6 p.m.

More information is available by calling 362-8373.