What: “Seniors of the Sahara,” by Barbara Pease Weber

When: Opens 7 p.m. Friday, with additional performances 7 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, 7 p.m. March 8 and 9, 3 p.m. March 10

Where: The Door, 56885 Enterprise Drive, Sunriver

Cost: $15, $10 children

Contact: sunriverstars.org

Moments before a rehearsal of “Seniors of the Sahara” last week, cast and crew members mingled, studied scripts and practiced lines for the show, which opens Friday. The comedy production is Sunriver Stars’ 22nd show since starting in 2012.

“This is like CTC back in 1978,” said John Gibson, assistant director. His wife, Gail Gibson, is director of the production.

Gibson was referring to Cascades Theatrical Company, although back in those days CTC stood for Community Theatre of the Cascades. Turns out Gibson was not only around for CTC’s infancy, he was in its second show, “The Miracle Worker,” he said.

Gibson’s comparison of Sunriver Stars to Bend’s longstanding community theater made sense as more folks trickled in to Sunriver Chamber of Commerce’s office, closed for the evening and on loan to the Stars.

The Gibsons are members of CTC, and John Gibson said he’d be more active if it were closer. Most of the folks involved in bringing “Seniors of the Sahara” to the stage live in or around Sunriver, Three Rivers or La Pine, according to him. Some are more experienced with theater, others, like Joyce Gallacher, who plays Thelma, are brand new to acting.

“It’s her first play. She was introduced to me in November and said, ‘I would like to do this.’ So I encouraged her to try out,” Gibson said.

“It’s kind of neat to have someone who’s been in theater in another venue,” he later added. “You get people with professional experience (and) people who are total novices. I think that’s true community theater.”

“This is almost a throwback,” Gibson said. “We kind of cross-pollinate. There are people here who have been in CTC, 2nd Street (shows).”

Sunriver Stars saves people who live in the southern part of Deschutes County — yet still want to act — the trouble of having to make the trek to Bend for evening rehearsals and shows.

John Gibson said there was a strong turnout at Sunriver auditions for the comedy by Barbara Pease Weber. At the time, according to John, “Gail said, ‘You know, I can cast anybody here. Would you mind? Some of the roles I’d have to double-cast.’ They said, ‘Oh yeah, we want to be part of this.’”

Gibson said that other than friends of cast members, not many from Bend make the drive to attend Sunriver Stars productions.

“I’ve lived out here long enough to know that people from Bend don’t come out here; they expect us to come to town. That’s just the way it is,” he said.

But word is getting around — so many people showed up to one performance of “Secret Garden” in the fall, that some had to be turned away. “That was one that we should’ve gone a second weekend with,” Gibson said.

“The biggest thing is word of mouth. People find out, ‘Whoa, that was a great show,’ and it just closed.”

“Seniors of the Sahara” will run the next two weekends at The Door.

In the show, a retired school teacher, Sylvia “Sylvie” Goldberg, played by Susan Quesada, just wrapped up a trip to the Middle East. There, through the kind of comedic accident that happens mainly in zany comedies, she purchased a lamp, or a teapot — she’s not quite sure what it is — at an outdoor market. It was the property of Savalas (Billy Miller and Robert Perrine, who swap roles), who never intended for it to be sold. He’s followed her back to Margate, New Jersey, and desperately wants it back.

“The play opens up with him chewing out Refik, who’s the one who was out walking the goat, and his wife was minding the stall,” explained John Gibson. “She accidentally sold it to Sylvia, and so Savalas says, ‘I must get this back.’ His first attempt results in her hitting him in the head with this teapot, and out comes the genie.”

As fate would have it, the genie, Eugene (Mark McConnell) is fond of vodka and V8 and saddled with back problems. The cast is rounded out by Goldberg’s friends and neighbors Mabel (Cindy McConnell), Thelma (Joyce Gallacher and Rickie Gunn) and Fannie (Janice Dost and Nancy Foote).

19631434