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Things get interesting in this boring ol’ town

Delores Reger finishes her 40-year career at Green Valley Health and Herbs this month. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]

Shortly after discussion just how boring life is in little ol’ Big Oak, the keepers of the local diner get some excitement in spades when convicted husband-killer Sadie Flynn steps off the bus in search of a new life for herself.

Would-be Lotharios Tom (the diner’s owner) and his sidekick/employee Orson soon have something to keep them occupied. But Sadie’s arrival sets off more than just a pair of inept small-town Romeos – what follows is the kind of comedy we’ve come to expect from playwright Norm Foster.

SOMETHING TO GOSSIP ABOUT Gordon Gorse (left) plays Orson, Steve Whetstone is Tom, Sheryl Walsh is Sadie Flynn, Ruth Connor is Rachel and Susan Parr is Bev in a scene from the Elmira Theatre Company’s newest production, Norm Foster's Sadie Flynn Comes to Big Oak, which opens Nov. 18.

It’s all about the laughs with Sadie Flynn Comes to Big Oak, the Elmira Theatre Company production that opens next week.

The diner, Millie’s Cabin, is the center of the gossip mill, which kicks into overdrive when Sadie Flynn (played by ETC newcomer Sheryl Walsh) rolls into town, apparently picking Big Oak as her new home after being released from prison. Things heat up when Tom (Steve Whetstone) offers her a waitressing job and his storeroom as a place to live. That’s fodder for regulars Rachel (Ruth Connor), the telephone operator who listens in on everyone’s business, and Bev (Sue Parr), a hairdresser who’s privy to everyone’s stories.

As if a newly-released killer wasn’t enough, odd occurrences start happening. Coincidence?

Or is there more going on here with Sadie, who maintains her innocence?

“Their lives change drastically – it’s no longer boring – when Sadie Flynn arrives in town. And then strange things start to happen, mostly to people who are doing things they aren’t supposed to. It’s like they’re getting their comeuppance,” explained ETC’s Joe Brenner.

“A mundane day suddenly changes, and it all follows Sadie. The audience will love it. It will be a hard time for them to stop laughing.”

In typical Foster style, we start to learn more about the good people of Big Oak: maybe life hasn’t been as boring as Orson (Gord Grose) makes it out to be. Given that the town is meant to be about the same size as Elmira, the fact that there’s more going on than the façade would indicate probably isn’t a big surprise.

Even Millie’s Cabin has a familiar feel to it.

“It’s a typical small-town diner, the kind of place you’d stop at on the way up to the cottage,” said Brenner. “Tom and Orson have seen the same customers who come in to eat the same thing year after year after year.”

Following the arrival of Sadie Flynn, life is anything but routine. And Big Oak is unlikely to be the same.

The ETC production of Sadie Flynn Comes to Big Oak runs Nov. 18 to Dec. 3, Fridays through Sundays. All shows are at 8 p.m., except for the Sunday matinees at 5 p.m. These are dinner show performances, with a buffet-style meal catered by the Stone Crock. Tickets are $48.

There are also two Thursday night show-only performances (8 p.m.) for $18. Tickets are available through the Centre In The Square box office by calling 519-578-1570 or online at www.centre-square.com. All performances are at 76 Howard Ave. in Elmira.

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