NGU Theatre puts on Leaving Iowa

NGU Theatre puts on Leaving Iowa

Chase Bridges, Assistant Editor

Old school rock and roll music plays over the speakers as the audience finds their seats. The stage is disguised as the midwest, complete with power lines, gas pumps and hay bales. The floor itself has become a map, covered front to back with different cities, and state lines. 

The lights dim and we see our first look at our main cast. A family that included a father (played by Dylan Thompson), a mother (played by Katherine Liederbach), a son named Don (played by Jacob Jones) and a daughter (played by Tansy Davis.) 

Leaving Iowa tells us this family’s story during two different time periods. We follow Don as he goes on a journey to take his father’s ashes to his grandparent’s old home. While also flashing back to old memories from road trips they took as a young family. 

Jones as Don is our narrator, and his performance performs the challenging task of leading the audience through the story. Jones switches back and forth from young child Don, to adult Don with ease, and was a true helping hand to keep the audience from getting confused. 

The mid-western accents of the entire cast were played up for comedic effect, and they all did a great job with it, earning laughs from the audience several times. Leiderbach who played Don’s mother accentuated the accent exceptionally well. Leiderbach embraced the role of a midwestern mother to perfection, complete with the accent, the giant smile and the temper. 

Leiderbach really shines in Leaving Iowa, capturing the attention of the audience in every scene. In a comedy that does not necessarily require deep, well rounded characters, Leiderbach gives a perfect example of taking on a character and becoming them 100%. 

Another stand out performance comes from Davis, who switches scene to scene from a whiny annoying sister, to a fully grown woman with no wrinkles. The impressive voice work comes naturally to her, as she is a well accomplished ventriloquist. 

The most emotionally driven performance however, comes from Thompson. Thompson plays a quirky dad so well, that by the end of the play it was so easy to think of him as our own dads. Everything from the hilarious road rage, to the terrible dad jokes made this character so relatable and gathered so much sympathy from the audience. 

To fill in the gaps between these emotional scenes between a small family, an ensemble of quirky characters would run into the story intermediately. This ensemble consisting of JP Waynick, Logan Stewart, Lydia Kytle, and Ashley Rose were often the most fun parts of the play. 

Each time they walked onto the stage in a new outfit, or carrying on a new prop the audience would sit up in anticipation of what was about to happen. One of the biggest laughs of the night came when Logan Stewart and Lydia Kytle made their way onto the stage in full civil war dress.

Stewart and Kytle had the audience in the palm of their hands for this scene with every one of their jokes getting a big laugh. 

Waynick got to show off his versatility by playing several very different characters throughout the show. Waynick performed excellently as an old farmer with one hand, while also playing a soft spoken, dumb waiter to perfection. 

Towards the end of the production, Rosa had her moment to shine, playing a loud mouthed waitress that the audience couldn’t get enough of. She played off of Jones’ Don extremely well, while still managing to get a lot of laughs. 

The entire show was enjoyable, funny, and even heart warming at times. But, there were certain scenes that were difficult to hear and understand what was going on.

Some of this was due to the loud sound effects that were sometimes played over the speakers. Other times, it was difficult to understand what some of the actors were saying due to them yelling in their mid western accents. 

Overall, the entire show was a ton of fun and a show that I was happy to get the opportunity to see. This family comedy was a great way to show that NGU Theatre is capable of more than just drama.

*Featured Image: The set of Leaving Iowa. Photo Courtesy of NGU Theatre.

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