‘Ragweed Blues’ makes local debut

Portraying characters in the 1930s comedy “The Ragweed Blues” are (l–r) John Bagin, Kirsten Bagin and Ajay Arora.

The era of Prohibition, speakeasies and wide-lapelled mobsters come to life with the upcoming production of “The Ragweed Blues,” an original American comedy presented by Rogue River Community Theater.

Nearly four dozen actors are participating in the play, which runs April 26-29 at Kent Theatre in Cedar Springs.

Set in New York City, “The Ragweed Blues” mimics the classic, old, black-and-white gangster movies of the 1920s and ‘30s, featuring legendary Hollywood actors like James Cagney, Pat O’Brien and Humphrey Bogart, explained Director Patricia Rose.

“The gangster movies from Hollywood’s golden era are American treasures, and there’s been renewed interest in the noir, especially with the success of ‘The Artist,’” said Rose, referring to black-and-white melodrama which earned five Academy Awards last month, including best picture.

“Taking it a step further, we’ve included slapstick comedy based on many of the old Hollywood matinee idols of that era,” Rose said. “There is romance, a sting operation, a movie set and gangsters all caught up in the Great Depression in New York City circa 1930.”

Audiences will especially enjoy a memorable fight scene which includes Tommy guns, brawling and bawling. Era-specific costumes and music, along with plenty of hijinks and a surprise ending “will have the audience laughing throughout the show,” according to Rose. “Many of the characters are based on real-life figures viewers will know.”

The local theater group, established over 20 years ago, includes award-winning actors of stage and film who’ve been rehearsing for the spring show since early February.

Proceeds from a special matinee performance on Sunday, April 29 will benefit the Rockford Area Historical Society in its quest to purchase the former Rockford District Court building at 105 Maple Street , to house its museum.

“Being able to help the Rockford Area Historical Society with a stage production that honors a bygone era of American history seems like a perfect idea,” Rose said. “We are honored to be a part of this effort.”

“The Ragweed Blues” will be performed Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 26-28 at 8 p.m. with a special matinee production scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday. The April 29 benefit play for the Rockford Area Museum is at 2 p.m. Shows will take place at the historic Kent Theatre , 8 N. Main Street in Cedar Springs. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $4 for students. They can be purchased in advance at Independent Bank of Rockford and the Cedar Springs Public Library. Tickets are also available at the door at Kent Theatre.

For more information, call (616) 874-5264.

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