Wren High School senior and 2009 Mr. Wren Andrew Farmer stars as Li’l Abner Yokum — a character that cartoonist Al Capp originally created for a comic strip in the 1930’s.
Performances are today at 7 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m., Thursday, April 23 at 7 p.m.; Friday, April 24 at 7 p.m.; and Saturday, April 24 at 6 p.m. The cost of admittance is $5 a person, and children 5 and under are free.
Wren High School play director and choreograph leader Sybelle Franklin said the musical is much more difficult than most plays a high school would hold.
“We have really stretched their capabilities,” she says, describing how the students have had to work hard to sing and choreograph, as some parts require a good amount of athletic ability.
“The kids here are just immensely talented and have been working hard for several months,” Franklin says.
But the play is also a lot of fun, as the students have improved their “thick accent” of what the hillbillies would sound like, she says.
“They are the quintessential hillbillies,” Franklin says.
The play is based predominantly on a 1959 musical, bringing a mixture of one-line comedy and political satire, all the while poking fun at hillbillies.
The government decides that the town of Dogpatch is chosen as the country’s most unnecessary town, and its residents will have to evacuate before it’s going to be used as an atomic bomb testing site, Franklin said.
But eventually the citizens realize that abandoning their town would bring some serious repercussions, so they spring into action…
According to Li’l Abner’s official Web site, www.lil-abner.com, the comic strip became incredibly popular during the Depression era, as the comic strip was syndicated in more than 250 newspapers, with a circulation of more than 60 million.
The comic strip itself lasted much longer than the 30’s alone, passing World War II and all the way into 1977.
Li’l Abner’s character has endured the test of time, and many say that it inspired the popular 60’s sitcom “The Beverly Hillbillies.”