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Rich Hainstock (shown rehearsing with Bonnie Beyer) says community theater is an 'addiction.'

Community, says Rich Hainstock, is the key ingredient to the success of ACT 1.

Rich, along with his wife, Mary Jo, is among the cast members of this week’s “Red Velvet Cake War.” He plays the lead male role of Newt Blaylock, the one-eyed wig and worm salesman.

For the role, Rich grew what he calls a “scary” beard, which he combines with a black eye patch. He’s had the look for about two weeks, but plans to lose it Sunday night, after the final performance of ‘Cake War.’

Another relatively new performer who had never tried acting in high school (although he now says he wishes he would have), Rich said he first got involved at the suggestion of a friend.

“It’s like any other addiction,” he said. “A friend said, ‘Hey, you gotta try this!’ and I did and now I am addicted.”

That addiction began in 2005 with the Peace Pipe Players Community Theatre in Maquoketa, where Hainstock played the role of the priest in the drama “Silver Whistle.”

That led to several more roles for both Rich and Mary Jo.

“Community theater takes a lot of time,” he said, explaining that to be with Rich, Mary Jo also became involved.

“She loves it, too,” he adds. However, he says, Mary Jo hates the facial hair of “Newt Blaylock” as much as he does.

Part of Community

The best part of being involved in community theatre, says rich, is “the chance to meet a broad spectrum of the community.”

“It really does pull people in from all different occupations and lifestyles,” he said.

Both Rich and Mary Jo had been involved in 4-H and FFA during their school years, so getting up in front of a large group of people doesn’t bother them.

Favorite role

In July of 2008, Rich’s community theater addiction found the hard stuff – the show and role Rich says he would travel 200 miles to audition for and even rent an apartment if necessary: “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”

“I played Sheriff Ed Earl,” he said. “We sold 2,000 tickets for four shows.”

Close interaction and the role of the audience

One of the benefits of performing with ACT 1, is that in the smaller venue of the Palace, the actors can more completely sense the reaction of the audience.

Of course, they can always hear the laughter, but from the Palace stage, the actors can also hear the sighs or deep breaths and see the shifting of positions and body language of their audience.

“The audience really does control the show – more than they believe they do,” Rich explains.

‘There to help’

For those who are shy, or think that although they would like to try community theater but do not know if they know what to do or how to perform, Rich says all of the actors are there to help each other.

“Everyone is there to help you,” he says. “It really is a community theater.”

The cast of “Red Velvet Cake War” includes one first-time actor, Mitch Mensen.

“We’ve been able to watch him grow,” says Rich. “It’s been really cool.”

Show continues through Sunday

'Cake War opened Thursday and went well, with the exception of a few "opening night jitters," said Rich. The show continues Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and ends with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday. Seating remains available for all three shows.

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Comments (1)

I've had the pleasure of doing five shows with Rich and he's always great to work with, whether he's onstage or making things happen behind the scenes. ACT I really lucked out when the Hainstocks came to town!
By: Steve Arnold on March 10th 10:55pm

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