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March 29, 2016

One-act show coming to Maple Festival

PlayBob Ellis/staff photographer
Rehearsing for the production of “The Collar” at the Center for the Arts of Homer is, from left, Amy Grantham as Rachel Davenport, Greg Moller as Harry Butts, Jason Gore as Dean “The Snake” Maroni, Dee Grantham as Ms. Grimm and Jim Coon as Rev. Waters. The free show, a one-act play, will be staged at the Central New York Maple Festival.

By KATIE KEYSER
Living and Leisure Editor

Jim Coon is not afraid to step out and try something new.
The graphic artist at Carbon Copies is directing a one-act play that will be staged for free at the CNY Maple Festival in Marathon.
“Come out and take a look, see what we’ve got going on. Hopefully, people will enjoy it,” said Coon, a member of the Center Players, a group associated with the Center for the Arts of Homer. The players’ latest effort will be a short comedy.
“The Collar” will take the stage at the Marathon High School auditorium. Free to the public, it will take place at1 p.m. Saturday and noon and3 p.m. Sunday during the Maple Festival.
The show is based on a one-act play, “A Cut Above the Rest,” by Claire Demmer.
“I am excited that we are going to try this and we will see how this works,” said Connie White of Marathon, an organizer of the Maple Festival, which is looking at its 46th year.
This is the first year the festival will feature a play, she said.
Coon was brainstormingideas with Center for the Artsdirector Ty Marshall about how to get out in the community more.
“Ty wanted to do outreach. He wanted to take some of the plays on the road. I mentioned to him with so many events in the area, we should be at these events,” said Coon. “The one coming up was the Maple Fest. Let’s do a one-act play.”
“This is the very beginning of our attempt to reach out from our physical space and become more involved with the community,” said Marshall.
“It’s getting more peopleinvolved with the arts, withart education, with theater,with music. I think that’s the goal of it and to try to become more integrated in the greater community in Central New York,” said Marshall.
“‘The Collar’ is about two jewel thieves that go to a funeral and are posing as long-lost relatives,” said Coon. They are on the lookout for the Davenport diamonds, which they want to steal.
“I had to rewrite the script. For various reasons, we had actors drop out of the play. There were seven players originally. We’re down to five. I had to write characters out,” he said.
The show will take between20 and 30 minutes, said Coon.A lot of the comedy comes from the actors themselves, the way they deliver the lines, they way they move, as much as the script, he said.
Deanna Grantham, of Cortland, is playing Jacobea Grimm, a lawyer for one of the deceased Davenport sisters.
“My character flirts shamelessly with another character in the play,” she said.
She also was in the Center Players’ version of “A Christmas Carol,” which Coon directed as well.
“I love it,” she said of the theater group. “The people are just wonderful. I have nothing but admiration for everyone I have met.”
She said the show is fast paced, a lot of fun, and suitable for any age.
“We’re all pretty nervous,”said Coon. “It looked like it wasn’t going to come off. I rewrote the script. I asked the actors if they want to continue. They said ‘yes.’ We’re all pushing forward.”
Coon is playing a small part as Rev. Waters in the show.
“At the last rehearsal on Wednesday, I was directing. It was so funny. It’s so much fun to watch these guys.”
The Center Players started practicing for the show inFebruary.
“It’s gotten intense these last two weeks. We have been trying to practice every night,” said Coon.
“Even though I’m the director, everyone here has input toward what the character does and how the story is told,” Coon said.
Coon said Grantham is his “right-hand man.” The pair went to high school together and Grantham helps out at Coon’s annual Halloween Haunting, an elaborate haunted house staged at Suggett Park every year, with actors who play ghouls, ghosts and monsters.
The cast seems to be rolling with the punches on the stage and seem to be having a good time, Coon said.
Coon said if anyone is interested in community theater, contact the center at 607-749-4900. There are two other productions being worked on there.
“The Center for the Arts isan outlet to break into it. You don’t have to take on a hugepart. I was looking for four mourners to just act like they are sitting at a funeral. We are stretched so thin, they can’t find people to do it.”

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