Encore performances of “The Ransom of Emily Jane” were presented Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon at the Constantine Theater.
Evolving from stage adaptation by Carolyn Lane of O. Henry’s classic short story “The Ransom of Red Chief,” the comedic production was revived for the appreciative audiences by a professional-quality local cast. Nearly all of the performers had been in the original production a year ago. Garrett Hartness, the Constantine Center manager, served as director on both occasions.
The opening scene finds homespun mother-and-son kidnappers Lori Loftis and Will Chambers at a caveside hideout with their recently abducted victim, Emily Jane Dorset. Emily Jane is a spoiled 10-year-old daughter of the richest man in a town where, she says: “Nothing exciting ever happens.”
All of Emily Jane’s annoying qualities are convincingly personified through the first-rate efforts of young actress Jewel Santini. As plans were being made for delivery of a ransom note, it soon becomes apparent that the young abductee is less of a victim than her hapless hosts.
Scenes two and four feature hilarious exchanges between town gossips (played by Amber Kyler, Jennifer Adair and cast standout Jake Collier) who discuss the kidnap rumors and much, much more.
Meanwhile, back at the hideout, Emily Jane’s earnest young governess, Miss Pruitt (Penny Adair), has arrived at the scene and become a willing hostage. after searching for her ward. Like Emily Jane, she makes the most of her stay while the kidnappers struggle to complete their plan.
The father of Emily Jane (played by Hartness) has slowly been deliberating on his options after receiving the ransom note. He finally arrives at the hideout to negotiate with the kidnappers over his daughter’s release. In the end, they are willing to pay him just to rid themselves of the tempestuous little girl.
The father grants the freed kidnappers 10-minute head start before he releases the girl — who wants to remain with them. As the curtain falls, they are fleeing — accompanied by the governess, who also seizes her chance to free herself from the non-stop antics of Emily Jane.
Prior to the show and at intermission, musical interludes were provided by Yvonne Rose on fiddle accompanied by Harry Robinson on guitar.
Hartness took the opportunity to inform the audiences about upcoming events at The Constantine.
On Saturday, Aug. 16, the young actors and actresses of the Constantine Players are presenting a children’s production, “The Timid Dragon.” A special showing of the Disney classic movie “Chitty, Chitty, Bang Bang!” is scheduled at the theater on Sunday, Aug. 17, with all seats costing $2.
Pawhuska’s historic theater will team up with Bartlesville’s Everett School of Music on Saturday, Aug. 23, to present the initial performance of The Constantine Opry — which possibly will become an every-other-month event, Hartness said.
The Constantine Awards, a local version of the Oscar ceremonies, will be held in September.
A 100-year celebration of the Constantine’s conversion from an inn to a theater in 1915 will begin in December, Hartness said.