For the past eight years, Judy de Korte has written the material for Langton’s spring variety show.
What actually takes place on stage, however, is something different.
“I write the script and they (the actors) take it over,” de Korte explained during a rehearsal for this year’s production. “By Thursday night (opening night), I probably won’t recognize my script.
“It’s like Second City. Things happen. It’s like ‘Oh my goodness.’ By Saturday night, there’s lots of adlibbing.”
Langton Showtime, which has been going on for more than 40 years, is your typical smalltown variety show. It is full of high jinks. The actors perform skits, tell jokes, and sing around a loosely-based theme.
There is a story, but the plot is “thin” and the humour “corny,” de Korte acknowledged.
But the show usually comes close to selling out for its three-night run at the Langton Community Centre. People lineup an hour-and-a-half before curtain to get in.
They laugh, they clap, they point to the people on the stage they know.
Money is raised for the community and the performers get the experience of a lifetime.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Jake Deming, who at age 25 is in his 14th or 15th show. “I look forward to it every year.”
Deming said he was terribly shy until he went on stage for Showtime. Over the years, he’s played a bartender, a pirate, a dog, and — most risqué of all — an airline stewardess.
“I’ll pretty well do anything after that,” he said.
Every year, a different theme is chosen and the script is written around it. Over the decades, the show has been situated at an airport and a lakeside inn. It has also been spun off of fairy tales and the Paul Bunyan story.
So what happens this year?
The show is set in an imaginary retirement home on Deer Creek. The female owner is running into problems due to new stricter regulations (the story always contains an obstacle, explained de Korte) and needs to raise money.
Not to give anything away, but the owner relies on show business to help her and a cutout Elvis in involved.
This year’s cast numbers 38. “Basically, we don’t turn anyone away and that’s why it’s cast of thousands this year,” said de Korte. “If someone wants a part, I just write them in.”
The performers include young children as well as seniors. Three generations of some families are on stage.
“It is a family affair,” said de Korte, who is 63 and has been in the show since it started as a church-sponsored production in the mid-1960s.
The audience has been coming longer than the cast. The actors do a meet-and-greet with them after the show. “People come up to me and say ‘I’ve seen you since you were a kid,’” said Deming. “It means a lot to come back and people remember you from year to year.”
Langton Showtime presents Deer Creek Villa at the Langton Community Centre on Thurs., May 2, Fri., May 3, and Sat., May 4 at 8 p.m. Tickets range in price from $8 to $12 and are cheaper in advance. Thursday is a seniors discount night for $10.
For advance tickets, call Art at 519-875-2602, Marg at 519-866-3990 or go to Dave’s Variety in Delhi.