A Good Laugh

Chaos will fill the stage Friday when Unnecessary Farce, a comedy that will make you laugh until you hurt, opens at the Vanity Theater.

Written by Paul Slade Smith, this is more than the usual farce. Beyond the expected physical comedy, innuendos, reversal of expectations and people behaving in ways you never expected, there is a real story line.

As the lights come up we find two cops in a motel room, setting up a sting operation on the room next door. Money has gone missing from the city coffers. A lot of money — $16 million to be exact. Using the new CPA as bait the police seek to catch the mayor admitting he has embezzled the funds.

Then the chaos begins. The young male cop has a thing for the accountant. The rookie female cop is beyond inept and yet, oh, so eager. The sting is interrupted by the arrival of the head of city hall security, then the mayor, a Scottish hit man, and finally, the mayor’s wife.

The action does not move as much as run, from one room to the other, in and out of the bathrooms, closets and hallway. Confusion as to who is who, chaos about which room is which, and the general falling of humans in crisis leads to pandemonium.

Still the story goes deeper than just this normal comedy formula as we discover that there is another, deeper side to each of these characters which makes them human, without distracting from the comedy.

A delightful cast brings these unique characters to life. Brayden Meyer plays the young cop who lacks the ability to even finish sentences. Kara Edie makes the role of Billie, the rookie cop, move from one of total ineptitude to that of a person struggling to become someone of value. Robert Tower walks on stage like a Secret Service agent out to establish both his importance and his authority, right before we find him cowering by the bed, crying out to heaven.

Two “retired” Vanity Players animate the roles of Mayor Meekly and his wife, Mary. Steven Hester’s mayor seems not only meek but in his dotage, while Bonnie Yund’s wife of the mayor seems nothing but Miss Sunshine.

Two new comers to the Vanity are the CPA, Karen Brown, played by Lesley Spencer and Marc Robinson as Todd, the Highland Hitman. The CPA seems quietly competent as an accountant, but totally frustrated as a female. Todd’s Scotsman is all bluster and indistinguishable Scottish brogue that vents his murderous anger.

This is a farce, a theatrical term describing a play that is an exaggerated comedy based on humorous situations and ridiculous actions. This play is all of that and more.

Keith Strain, the producer, shared that he is drawn to farces, convinced that what we all need is a good, hard laugh.

One difficulty the director, Michael Patton, encountered was how to have two rooms side by side, each with four doors, on a stage that is just under 21 feet wide. Then insert two full size beds and up to seven people and it is crowded. The result, however, only aids to the comedic chaos.

The show is rated PG because of brief crude language and suggestive scenes.

Your opportunity to “laugh until you hurt” comes Friday when the show opens for a two-weekend run. Friday and Saturday performances on April 21-22 and 28-29 will be at 7:30 p.m. Sunday matinées on April 23 and April 30 will be at 2 p.m.

Tickets may be reserved by calling 765-362-7077. They may be purchased by going to www.sugarcreekplayers.org. The box office will be open starting 3-5:30 p.m. today so you can pick up tickets. Tickets are $12 for adults; $10 for students; and $8 for children.

Production of this play in made possible by the sponsorship of Service Master and Nucor Steel.

Montgomery County puts children first

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and on Thursday, the Montgomery County Community came out to show its support for Child Abuse Prevention efforts. More than 75 people offered their support to the Putting Children First Event.

The Indiana Department of Child Services in partnership with Prevent Child Abuse Indiana and the Kids First Trust Fund worked together to support local DCS offices and organizations, in hosting an event to recognize the role of the community in protecting Indian’s most vulnerable youth.

In Montgomery County, the partners in planning the Putting Children First Event included the Montgomery County office of the Indiana Department of Child Services, Children’s Bureau Community Partners and the Child Abuse Prevention Council a program of the Montgomery County Youth Service Bureau.  

The event included several speakers, including Joanie Crum, director of the local DCS office; Mayor Todd Barton; Karen Branch, executive director of the Youth Service Bureau; and Josh Pack, youth leader at Rock Point Church.

All of the speakers expressed their commitment to making sure that every child in Montgomery County has a happy childhood and to support Montgomery County in addressing this serious issue. Barton also read a proclamation declaring April Child Abuse Prevention Month in Crawfordsville. 

Following the speakers, Lisa Long, Child Abuse Prevention Council President and Director of Discovery Kids Preschool had a number of her students entertain the crowd with songs they had learned for the event.

“These precious little children and all the others children in Montgomery County are the reason we come together to make the public aware of child abuse prevention efforts,” Branch said. “We are so gratified to see so many people who want to work together on preventing abuse.” 

The local DCS case managers, supervisors and director were recognized for their work with children who are victims of abuse and neglect.

Everyone in attendance was given a pinwheel to plant and reminded that pinwheels are the symbol of our quest to insure our community’s children are free from abuse and neglect. Nationwide, the pinwheel is the symbol of child abuse prevention as it represents the happy and carefree childhood we would like to have for every child.

For more information about what you can do to prevent child abuse in our community, contact the YSB at 765-362-0694, ext. 105. 

If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, call the Department of Child Services hotline number 1-800-800-5556.

Ben Hur Speedway upgrades track; preps for busy season

One well kept secret of the local racing scene is gearing up for its best season in years.

The Ben Hur Speedway, a one-third of a mile clay track at 1500 North C.R. 400W, will open Saturday.

Long known for being Indiana’s fastest kart track — where karts average 62 miles per hour — Ben Hur Speedway has become even faster with an upgraded track surface.

Crawfordsville resident Bev Bowers is the spokesperson for the track. She said work on the track included bringing submerged clay to the top and using it to refinish the surface. New clay also was added to complete the project. Her son, Rob Bowers, who is one of the top racers in Indiana, said he could tell a big difference after driving on the new track surface.

“I think we are going to see some really good speeds this season,” she said.

The grandstands and bleachers were recently restored and a lot of the brush and trees have been cleared, making the facility even more prepared to handle the increased number of racers this season.

The number of riders in the past has been around 100. However, Bev Bowers hopes hopes to see the number of drivers increase to 150 on some weekends this summer.

“We have more people from out of state saying they are coming to race here this year,” she said. “We have a new group from Michigan and another group from Missouri that have never been here. We also are tracking a lot more traffic on our Facebook page.”

The track board also added a new pro series to the schedule of races at the speedway. It is being called the LKS Challenge Series. The new series is designed to make drivers use the same tires, clone engine and have other variables on the kart be equal. The series is designed to reward drivers, who must be age 15 or older, for their skills instead of rewarding the best set-up on the kart. There also will be a similar season for those ages 12-14, called the Junior Clone-3 Pro Series.

The sport has seen an increase in interest in recent years. Each race night there are 17 classes scheduled. Racers range from age 5 to the Senior Stock Class which includes racers as old as 64. Races are scheduled every other weekend beginning this Saturday.

There will be three featured events at the track this season. The 10th annual Shooky Summer Shootout is scheduled for July 8. On Labor Day Weekend, the track will be the host for the 33rd annual Indiana State Dirt Track Championship and the annual Halloween Spooktacular is scheduled for Oct. 21.

This year the concession stand is under new management. Many additional and new items have been added to the menu.

Admission to the track is $1 for children ages 8-12; and $4 for children age 13 and older. Pit passes are available for children ages 7 and younger and $12 for fans age 5 and older. All racers practice 3-7 p.m. Saturdays.

Rokita comes under fire at breakfast

United States Congressmen Todd Rokita found himself a target during the Crawfordsville/Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast on Saturday.

A few people in attendance at Detchon Hall on the Wabash College campus questioned Rokita’s stance on the proposed budget President Donald Trump delivered to Congress, global warming, replacing Obamacare and the accessibility of Trump’s tax returns.

A few breakfast guests proclaimed they did not support Trump or Rokita, both Republicans. Each time Rokita tried to reply to a question, he was interrupted by either the person asking the question or someone else in the audience. Rokita, who stayed calm throughout the discussion, asked several times that he be allowed the opportunity to answer.

“This is a free country and we have free speech rights,” Rokita said. “But, we also have to be civil. I learn from constructive dialog, but I will not tolerate disruptive discussion because that is not fair to people who came to exchange ideas and learn something.”

State Representative Sharon Negele (R-Attica) reported 681 bills were filed during the current state legislative session which may come to an end this week. She said, as of Friday, Gov. Eric Holcomb has signed 34 bills into law.

Negele said three bills she authored were signed by Holcomb, including a bill that will increase the penalty for the theft of narcotics from pharmacies.

Dr. Tim Brown, state representative and chairman of the House Ways and Mean Committee, said work continues on the state’s biennial budget. The challenge is finding funds for roads and bridges. The Republican talked about a possible increase in the gasoline tax for motorists and diesel fuel tax for trucks.

Brown also said state education testing continues to be discussed. The Crawfordsville native said the state is leaning toward graduating qualifying exams, which will be different than ISTEP.

Before the question and answer time, Rokita said the failed attempt to replace Obamacare was a lesson for legislators.

“We learned we need to take more time and get it right,” Rokita said. “We need to explain it better to get the next one passed.”

Rokita did pledge to continue to revoke Obamacare as he has done for seven years.

Rokita said he is enjoying working with the Trump administration and being a part of leading the country.

“I am a supporter of Mr. Trump and I think he is right for America at this time,” Rokita said. “Overwhelmingly the people of the Fourth District and Indiana want a fighter. They want America to lead again and that is what Trump is doing.”

Rokita added he supports Amtrak, which he said, “is important to this area and all of Indiana.”

Crawfordsville Police Officer Resigns

The Crawfordsville Police Department has received officer Jeremy Wuestfeld’s notice of resignation Wednesday.


Chief Mike Norman began disciplinary proceedings against Wuestfeld for an April 5, 2017 incident, which the police department also referred to the Indiana State Police. The Crawfordsville Board of Metropolitan Police Commissioners were set to review the disciplinary charges on Wednesday (April 12, 2017). Wuestfeld resigned on Monday (April 10, 2017)