‘Opal’s Husband’ brings back McColley’s favorite character
Hawkeye Community Theatre will offer up a crazy comedy this month with a ridiculous marriage proposal, a rich old man and his scheming daughter, and a very unusual set.
In “Opal’s Husband,” the always well-meaning title character tries to help out her friend Rosie by setting her up with a “Mister Handsome” from a lonely hearts ad. When he shows up, he turns out to be a 90-year-old escapee from a nursing home, who wants to marry a young woman and retire to the South Pacific to escape from his scheming daughter.
To stop this, the daughter, Velma, and her husband plot to make Opal think she is crazy.
“‘Opal’s Husband’ is a sequel – one of five or six Opal plays written by John Patrick,” said Director Terry Coleman. “I directed ‘Opal’s Million Dollar Duck’ a few years ago and decided audiences might enjoy another installment. Also, Martha McColley agreed to reprise the role of Opal and she is very talented and fun to work with.”
McColley said she was so excited to play Opal again, she practically begged for the chance when she heard Coleman was doing the play.
“Opal is me,” McColley said. “My daughter said that this play was written for me. Opal is a really simple person with a big heart. She has a second-grade education, but she is full of wisdom.
“I’ve been in a lot of plays, and this is the first character I really missed when the play was over,” she added. “She’s just a fun, heartwarming person. And she never, ever shuts up.”
The long monologues can be hard to learn, but McColley said it’s all coming together.
“Once you get it though, she’s got a point to her story,” she said. “You see the point to all that rambling.”
The set catches one’s eye immediately – it’s full of stuff.
“The character Opal runs – you’d call it a junk business,” Coleman said. “The set has to be full of stuff, because that’s how she earns money.”
“We tried to recreate the set as much as we could to match last time we did this. … It’s something the audience can just stare at when they come in until the show starts, just to see what’s all there.”
McColley and Robin Smith, who plays Velma, created the set, he said.
“She was down in the prop room,” McColley said, “and she’d say ‘What do you want me to bring up?’ I said, ‘The prop room.'”
McColley convinced Smith to try out for the play.
“I never been in a play in all my life,” Smith said. “Martha talked me into it. She showed me one of the scenes, and said ‘This is all you have to memorize.’ She forgot to tell me about all the other scenes.
“I’m the wicked daughter,” she explained. “I’m here to take his money. I want to be in his will, and then I want him to die and I want to take his money.”
Playing the role of 90-year-old Captain Mooney is 23-year-old Adam Liker. He said it presents some enjoyable challenges.
“It’s getting the walk down and the talk. I tend to talk fast, so I have to figure out how to talk slow, and make sure I’m staying that slow,” Liker said.
Liker previously acted at Hawkeye Theatre in “Fools.” He’s also appeared with the Comedia Musica Players and the Take Two summer theater.
The best moment in this show? “Probably when I’m faking my death,” Liker said.
McColley also had a favorite Opal quote.
“My favorite line in this play is, ‘I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again, people that is born homely like me is lucky. They don’t never have to worry about losing their good looks,'” she said.