Here Comes the Judge!

By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Dedra Cordle
The Showstoppers Acting Group will present their spring production of “Here Comes the Judge!” June 4, 5 and 6 at the E.L. Evans Senior Center. Shown here are performers Don Murnane, Barbara Morris and Jean Slussar during the May 21 rehearsal of Billy St. John’s courtroom comedy.

As a member of the up-and-coming rock band Daggers & Daisies, Iggy Turner considers it a rite of passage to get in trouble with the law.

While not totally ideal, he later admitted in a courtroom, it is a necessity when they are stymied in their quest to “exercise their constitutional right to get down.”

For months, the four-member band had been doing just that in peace, holed up in the relative safety of a vacant property owned by his father. But then the quartet drew the ire of a group of elderly residents living nearby and it all went downhill from there.

It started, Turner said, when they were rudely asked to turn down the music. He felt that these seniors, much like their own parents, just didn’t understand so they continued to rehearse as they needed the practice.

Much to his dismay, the complaints continued. And continued. And then one day, the simmering tension between the two groups came to a boil when the band allegedly disrupted a game of bridge.

Since that was one step too far, said residents of the Sunset Manor Senior Living Center, this noise pollution needed to come to an end so were forced to call in the law.

Making their first of what they hope would be many court appearances, Turner and the rest of the band swaggered into the courtroom where they came face to face with their new public enemies. While they initially believed it would be their hair that would fly in the ensuing battle of wills, it turns out they really needed to do was watch for airborne objects from the unpredictable judge.

Though Iggy Turner may not have expected the chaos that would eventually follow in the courtroom that day, the man who is portraying the unruly teen in an upcoming production is certainly looking forward to the havoc (and maybe causing a little bit of his own).

“I think it’s going to be really fun,” said Ed Hawkins.

For the better half of this year, Hawkins and his fellow thespians with the Showstoppers Acting Group have been working hard to perfect the “zany” courtroom comedy “Here Comes the Judge!” It has proven to be a true challenge, said several veteran actors, due to its hilarious content.

“I had such a blast reading it,” said Jean Slussar, referring to Billy St. John’s creation, “and we’ve had such a blast performing it and that it makes our rehearsals hard to get through.”

Director Tom Cash said he thought “Here Comes the Judge!” would be a great play for their spring production due to the sound comedic timing from the actors.

“We have some truly fantastic actors with impeccable comedic timing,” he said. “That is sometimes hard to get a grasp of but almost all of our actors have that innate sense.”

He said the actor who is being relied upon to get that timing right for this play is Don Murnane, who plays the titular character.

“It is a play that largely rides on the performance of the judge and Don is just spectacular in this role,” said Cash. “He is playing someone who is bombastic and picks fights with witnesses and is just the complete opposite of this humble man we all know.”

Murnane called it a pleasure to take on this role and said he knows the audience is going to love the play that features six unbelievably wild cases.

“It’s hard to pick a favorite case because they are all so great,” said Murnane. “If I had to choose, I would say it is the case with Dr. Quacken, who is on trial for medical malpractice.”

In that case, Dr. Quacken is played by Cash, who said he relished the opportunity to go toe-to-toe with Murnane as the questionably honorable Judge Knott.

“It’s just a lot of fun banter that is somewhat ad-libbed,” he said. “We change it almost every time we rehearse so who knows what we will come up with during our actual performances.”

Cash said if there is one thing set in stone, it is the reaction the audience will have from watching the Showstoppers Acting Group put on another performance.

“They’re gonna love it,” he said. “It’s just a really funny play performed by great actors that will leave you feeling good.”

The Showstoppers Acting Group will present “Here Comes the Judge!” on June 4 at 1 p.m.; June 5 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. and June 6 at 1 p.m. The performances will take place at the E.L Evans Senior Center, located at 4330 Dudley Ave. While admission is free, donations of non-perishable food or personal care items for the Grove City Food Pantry are encouraged.

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