A bit of a fruitcake

BY CATHERINE KRUSE | Evergreen theater reporter

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It’s kind of sweet, kind of nutty, and best associated with the Christmas season. It’s the name of the cake nobody seems to like, and the holiday show put on by Pullman Civic Theatre: “FrUiTCaKeS.”

The story of “FrUiTCaKeS” follows Jamie, a young boy who ran away from home and comes into a small Southern town in Atlanta. Among the town’s characters are Ms. Alice and Ms. Sarah the fruitcake makers, Skeeter the Shakespearean fisherman, the missing cat Tutti Frutti, and Buster the Christmas hog.

“The whole story revolves around this character and how (the town members) take this runaway under their wing (and) help him sort some things out for him,” said the show’s co-director Desiree Gould.

Gould described the show as kind of like a fruitcake: both a little sweet and a little nutty. With reunions, redemption, and an emphasis on family values, Gould said it’s probably the sweetest Christmas play she’s ever read.

One of the reasons “FrUiTCaKeS” is such a moving show is the relationships better built among and between the characters throughout the play, Gould said. Among these relationships include the fruitcake sisters, who bicker but still love each other, and an exasperated husband with his loving and patient wife.

“The way that the play is written and how the characters grow is the most interesting,” Gould said. “It’s very endearing how it all comes together.”

Pullman High School junior Charly Coyle, who plays Ms. Alice, described her character as a quirky old lady who really likes Christmas. She and her sister, Ms. Sarah, bicker throughout the show. Coyle said she worked with the actress playing Ms. Sarah before, so they were fairly comfortable with getting in each other’s faces.

“(The show is) fun with some deep emotional undertones,” Coyle said. “Some scenes could make the audience cry.”

A main relationship focus is the connection between Jamie and Mac, an elderly man who allows Jamie to stay in his barn. Mark Barnes, who plays Mac, said one of the ties between the characters is both have a problem talking with their father and son, respectively.

In this town of fruitcakes and overall nutty people, Barnes said Mac is the level-headed, stabilizing force of the town who tries to solve problems for people.

“(He has a) good relationship with the other characters in the play,” Barnes said. “The relationship he doesn’t have and has a hard time maintaining is with his own son.”

The play is set in the early 1980s, determined by a mention of the Vietnam War. However, Gould said the play could be any time or any place.

The cast consists of about 12 adults and eight children, whose ages range from five to 17 years, and Gould said most of the children have had theater experience before.

“It’s amazing how fast they can learn their lines,” Barnes said.

Gould said it’s more difficult to work with adults because they need to be broken out of their shells. Those who have never done theater before would have a harder time being willing to make a fool out of themselves onstage.

“I love working with the cast,” Gould said. “I just think that the whole thing has been nothing but a joy all the way through.”

“FrUiTCaKeS” will show at the Pullman Civic Theatre Dec. 5 and 6, and 11-13 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 7 and 14 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 for evening shows and $10 for matinees.