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Setting sail for the South Pacific

TONY SCHWAB, Deb Oberhaus and Tyler Badertscher (left to right) rehearse a scene from the musical, “South Pacific,” to be presented today, Saturday and Sunday by the Riley Creek Singers in the auditoria of Pandora-Gilboa High School.  (Photo by Nick Moore)

TONY SCHWAB, Deb Oberhaus and Tyler Badertscher (left to right) rehearse a scene from the musical, “South Pacific,” to be presented today, Saturday and Sunday by the Riley Creek Singers in the auditoria of Pandora-Gilboa High School. (Photo by Nick Moore)

By MARGARET DWIGGINS
Family editor
PANDORA — It’s show week for the Riley Creek Singers, a Pandora-based theatrical troupe, a time when the stress of putting together a musical production is at its peak, and Valerie Nusbaum is loving every minute of it.
This weekend, the troupe will present “South Pacific” in the auditoria at Pandora-Gilboa School. Performances will be given at 8 p.m. today and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Nusbaum, 62, the show’s assistant director and also a cast member, is one of the original members of the troupe, along with its director, Kevin Augsburger. She doesn’t let the stress of show week bother her.
“I love every aspect of it. There’s no problem that’s too big,” Nusbaum said.
Nusbaum, who caught the acting bug after landing the role of Eliza Doolittle in Pandora-Gilboa High School’s production of “My Fair Lady” her senior year in 1970, said Augsburger established the troupe in 1996.
“His dream was to bring large-scale musicals into our community,” Nusbaum said. “We were in our old school at the time; we had a very small stage, but we pulled off one of the most astonishing productions of “The Sound of Music.” We had a huge nuns’ choir and it was just beautiful. There was no air-conditioning (in the auditorium) and we packed the house every show.”
Nusbaum said Augsburger has a solid background in theater and has performed in dinner theaters and on cruise ships, and is a talented actor, dancer and singer. It is Augsburger who selects the musicals and coordinates auditions.
About 40 people call themselves members of the Riley Creek Singers, some from Pandora, many from outlying areas including Bluffton, Findlay, Ottawa, Columbus Grove and Glandorf.
“We always have new people every year. We become an instant family. We embrace everyone who wants to be involved,” Nusbaum said.
In addition to actors, there is a dedicated set crew, led by Kevin Vance. Jim Oberhaus will lead a 13-piece orchestra for the shows. Cathy Stratford serves as the practice and performance accompanist.
Performances are given only every other year, due to the time commitment involved from the volunteer participants, and because of the cost of presenting such a production.
“When you do a show it costs a lot of money. Just for the royalties and the script — that’s a lot of money you have to put right up front. Then there’s sets to build and costuming and musicians,” Nusbaum said. Members hold garage and bake sales to raise money, and a couple of weeks ago sponsored a chicken barbecue.
The troupe is lucky in that it has been granted the use of Pandora-Gilboa School for performances and to store scenery and costumes, many of which are shared with the school and other area theatrical troupes.
For the past 16 years, Nusbaum has also directed plays and musicals for Pandora-Gilboa School. She said having the school administration’s support is a big boost to the organization.
“They’re so trusting of us,” she said. “Even though the whole music wing is a disaster right now, by Monday everything will be back to perfection, ready for school to start. We can’t thank them enough for letting us use the space.”
The camaraderie and friendships formed by the every-other-year performances are priceless, Nusbaum said.
“We have a grand old time. People ask me how it’s going, and I say if we were having any more fun it would be against the law,” she said.
Tickets for “South Pacific” are $12 and will be available at the door or in advance at Riley Creek Pharmacy in Pandora.
Dwiggins: 419-427-8477 Send an E-mail to Margaret Dwiggins

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