PEQUOT LAKES -- It may look like a giant, wooden lazy Susan right now, but just wait until opening night.
Set construction continued in the Pequot Lakes auditorium this week as cast and crew members of Pequot Lakes Community Theater's "Mister Roberts" prepare for their upcoming production.
C.J. Anderson, who directs "Mister Roberts" and plays Captain Morton in the play, said audience members will be surprised by the elaborate set design involved in the production.
The World War II era play takes place aboard the cargo ship U.S.S. Reluctant in the South Pacific during the spring of 1945.
Anderson, along with his crew, constructed a large turntable style stage platform that will allow crew members to change the set quickly while scenes are being played out on other parts of the stage.
"This is something that has never been done before," Anderson said. "This is my invention. It's just a big turntable with a spindle in the middle. I'm kind of proud of it. It turns pretty easily. One person can turn it."
The turntable stage, which is about 14 feet in diameter and will be shaped in the form of a gray Navy ship, will be separated into two sections by a wall. One side of the turntable will be a portion of the ship's deck while the other side will be used to stage scenes that include the crew's, officers' and captain's living quarters.
But there's more.
Jason Kosloski (left) as Stefanowski, Lee Kodet as Mannion, Jason LaDouceur as Wiley, Andy Russell as Insigna and Bill Musel as Lindstrom, cast members of "Mister Roberts," a Pequot Lakes Community Theater production, discovered there are nurses on the island ahead.
A trap door on the auditorium stage will be used as a hatchway for actors to exit below deck. Crew members are building a stairway system into the orchestra pit, said Anderson.
Another feature of the set design will be two large gun tubs that will be built seven feet high and stable enough to hold actors. The gun tubs will include simulated 20 mm anti-aircraft guns.
"Imagine a gray hot tub seven feet in the air," assistant director Lauren Nickish said of the gun tubs.
"It'll really be spectacular," said Anderson.
Essentially, the play will feature a three-level set design.
Anderson said the reason "Mister Roberts" was selected by Pequot Lakes Community Theater is because it is a well-known play and film, which featured the late Henry Fonda, and because like the rest of the country, the Brainerd lakes area is losing its World War II veterans at a fast rate.
"I wanted to do this show so they could enjoy it," said Anderson.
The threat of military action against Iraq has brought home the reality of war to many of the young teen-age boys and men who are performing in the play, said Nickish.
"I think this is making it more real to them, to know what war is like," she said, adding the men and boys had to get short haircuts to prepare for their roles.
Anderson and Nickish bought the soldier uniforms on eBay during the past year. They said audience members will become part of the play themselves during intermission since soldiers will be "on liberty" during the break and interacting with the audience. There are a few surprises planned, said Anderson.
The show will run 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28, March 1, 7 and 8 and 2 p.m. March 2 and 9.
Tickets are $9 for adults, $8 for seniors age 60 and older and $7 for students 18 and younger. For ticket information, contact Pequot Lakes Community Education at (218) 568-9200.
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