“Unnecessary Farce” to open ALT’s 87th season

Alton Little Theater Showplace

Award-winning actress Gail Drillinger will take on the challenges and delight of performing in a new play by Allison and Margaret Engel that is a tribute to one of America's most iconic and entertaining women. 

In ALT's 88-year history, Drillinger is only the fifth actor to take on the depth and breadth of creating a one-person show — previous actors include Cliff Davenport, Diana Enloe, Birdine Groshong and Lee Cox. Cox actually was gifted the Erma Bombeck script at the AACT National Convention in July 2019 and  immediately knew co-director and good friend Drillinger was the perfect person to recreate Bombeck's wit and humor about everyday life. 

The play will be produced for four performances at 7:30 p.m. April 8-10 and 2 p.m. April 11. The theater group is still limited to 50 percent capacity and Drillinger has agreed if there is ticket demand she will perform twice on April 11. Tickets are $20 and are available through (618) 462-3205 and altonlittletheater.org.

Drillinger and Cox have started rehearsal every minute they can steal away from “Sister Act” and “Terms Of Endearment” rehearsals and have been delighted with the script's commitment to truth. 

“Erma may have made millions of women laugh because she understood their tears," Cox said. "I thought I knew a lot about Erma's life until I started my own research on Bombeck's total commitment to become the champion for women's lives and the passage of the ERA." 

The production is supported through projections and set and lighting design by Brant McCance, Kevin Frakes and Dennis Stevenson. Michael Cox will be on hand with Champagne cocktails at ALT's reopened bar. 

“Erma Bombeck: At Wit's End” derives its title from one of Bombeck's newspaper columns. The script is peppered with references to Bombeck's best-selling books. The theater group will gift a collection of Bombeck's treasured works to one lucky lady in attendance at each performance. “Erma Bombeck: At Wit's End” is the final Extra, Extra, Entertainment Production for the 87th season and is a treat not to be missed.

"Bring your girlfriends, bring your mom, bring that great guy in your life — but come and laugh with us as we pay tribute to a great lady who never let adversity or life's challenges stand in the way of a good day," Cox said. 

The production is produced by special arrangement with Samuel French Inc. and offers seating for 100 lucky patrons for the productions in April. 

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