Persimmon Tree Players Performing

By Page H. Gifford 


This fall, the Persimmon Tree Players will be performing Phil Olsen’s play “A Nice Family Gathering.” The comedy revolves around a dysfunctional family – which has been a familiar theme for recent PTP productions – but one that has appealed to audiences. The Lundeen family gathers for Thanksgiving, but it is bittersweet since dad passed away. The story unfolds with family members bringing not only their regular baggage but their emotional baggage as well. Different people, with varying lifestyles, and opposing views share a nagging need to assemble for “a nice family gathering.” 

As they explore their family connections and reminisce about their father, their mother has invited a date. Hilarity results when another unexpected guest shows up, the ghost of their dearly departed father who regrets never telling his wife after 41 years of marriage how much he loved her. She can’t see or hear him and the date only complicates matters. 

“Mom’s new gentleman friend and dad himself, returning from the Lutheran version of 

purgatory, is tending to some unfinished business,” said Director Beth Sherk. The family struggles to deal with each other, the death of their father, and mom’s surprise guest with comedic repercussions. 

“The vivid characters in this cozy comedy give the play a note of authenticity and 

humor and not only will it get you laughing but it’ll touch your heart, too,” said Sherk. “I fell in love with this play the first time I read it and the take-away of the play is very simple: express your love while you still can, a message that can’t be repeated often enough.” She is hoping that PTP can be the bearer of this message for the upcoming holiday season and the timing for Thanksgiving couldn’t have been better. 

Sherk believes community theater can in many ways bring something meaningful to audience members and this play embodies those ideals. She credits the actors who volunteer their time as well as those who work backstage with bringing the message forward in such a colorful way. 

Sherk has assembled a strong cast that features longtime PTP performers George Gaige,  Jen Starkey and Marianne Hill. Rounding out the cast are returning actors Brooke Agee and Steve Bevis as well as newcomers Justin Meyer and Carl Heins. 

“Community Theater has its embedded challenges. Schedule conflicts are one big obstacle that we contend with but when they are able, community theater people are 

willing to do what it takes to make it happen,” said Sherk. “A professional make-up artist, after witnessing the energy and commitment of the cast and crew, once told me ‘This is 

real theater, people doing it for the love of doing it. When money comes into the 

picture, you lose something.’ I would add that this is why community theater people are 

some of the best people around.” 

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit 

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