When asked why she wanted to bring Kitchen Witches to the stage Connie Kiviniemi-Baylor who stars in and directs the show had much to say.  It has been delightful to bring the poignant comedy, "The Kitchen Witches," to life at WILLow LeaVes of Hope because it is filled with the complexities of relationships--the good, the bad, the ugly. It really delves into the essence of relationships, which is love, respect and forgiveness. Thankfully, it tackles the subject of relationships with a lot of comedy, too, so the audience will have many chances to laugh. I have the joy of working with a dear actress friend, Robin Tillotson, in the role of Dolly Biddle. This will be the second time that Robin and I have played these roles together. The first being 5 years ago for ACTS in Seymour. It's been fun to bring the characters back to life and delve in and develop these characters even more. Robin is having fun playing her character because she gets to go in so many directions i.e. costumes and accents.  Robin loves to make people laugh and Babcha/Dolly is the perfect character for that.  For Connie's character, Izzy, or as she likes to be known as busy Izzy, it's been fun to portray her because she really is a complex character. I think she was fun loving but also determined. She was determined to get out of the small town she grew up in, and she worked hard to escape the small town, educate herself, and pursue her career. I think she regrets some of her decisions but is probably unwilling to admit that, as many people in real life are unwilling to admit their mistakes and take responsibility for them. She is quick to stand up for herself and to take what she thinks is rightfully hers. She's also, as she says in the play, willing to call things like she sees them. When pushed, she's ready to fight, but we see a softer side of her come through as the play progresses. It's heartwarming to see that Izzy does have a heart and wants to develop better relationships just as much as she wants to cook good food and entertain a live studio audience. You'll just have to come to the show to see Dolly & Izzy cook up a storm, as food, snide remarks, and funny one-liners go flying.

It's also great to have Stephen Planalp on board playing the role of Stephen Biddle. Kind of ironic that someone named Stephen is playing someone named Stephen. Even more ironic that the first time Robin and I did this show the gentleman playing Stephen was also named Stephen in real life. It's been interesting to see the different take that Stephen has on the role compared to the other two actors I've seen play this role. And that's one of the great things about live theater--that each actor brings something new and different and interesting to a role as he develops the character. Steven is also always willing to jump in and help where he can and will probably be assisting with some technical needs on the stage. He also gets to help Alex move cabinets as the set changes during the show. Good thing he really doesn't have a bad back, as his character Stephen has.

It's also been fun to have my son Alex Baylor in the role of Rob, the camera operator who is a co-op student from the excellent "Getting our Kids off the Streets" program. Although Alex is quite articulate in real life, he plays the non-speaking Rob quite well. He has been a big help off-stage running lines with "Izzy" and acting as assistant stage manager, setting the stage and placing props where they're needed.

When the director needed help with costumes and props, she knew just who to ask for assistance: Jessica Brown, who has the terrific sense of style and owns her own costume wardrobe. She's helped find just the right pieces for the show and is also serving as assistant stage manager.

My daughter Kat Baylor has also been a great assistant to the director, making banners, formatting the play bill and making sure it gets done, taking headshots and publicity shots, and helping with online publicity. She'll also be assisting with prop placement and serve as Dolly's dresser during the first weekend of the show.  It's also been great to seek out assistance for this show from some of Kat's college friends, even though a couple of them are in TN and one in FL. Many thanks go to Kat, Will, and Tyler for creating the jingle for "The Kitchen Witches" show, which was just campy enough for a local cable access cooking show. Mega thanks to Ashlyn for the terrific poster designs and the super quick turnaround to get them done.

It's a delight to have Greg Andis assist behind the scenes.  For this production, he helped build the set and is handling all of the sound and tech. He's done a great job finding just the right music to help bring this show to life.  Greg is just thrilled he did not have to memorize any lines for this production.  He is looking forward to future shows and doing some singing and dancing in February in the musical "Two by Two" being brought to you by WILLow LeaVes of Hope by the Passion for Acting Theater Company

Connie extends her gratitude to the sisters at WILLow LeaVes of Hope for being so easy to work with and helping out with Dinner Theatre productions by loaning furniture pieces and décor for sets, by preparing tasty meals for the dinner theatres, and by encouraging the directors and actors in their endeavors. We are ever so grateful to be able to rehearse and perform in their establishment. Most folks don't realize the expense that goes into a theatrical production. First there is the expense of time. Directors, actors, and crew devote hours upon hours several evenings a week just in rehearsal, not to mention the time spent memorizing lines and developing their characters. Secondly, there's a financial cost to producing live theater. One of the biggest expenses are the royalties that must be paid to perform someone's script. This usually runs into several hundred dollars for the run of the show. Then, there's the cost for utilities used in the building and food and labor costs to prepare the dinners and serve them. That is why it is vital for people to support live theatre by attending performances every chance they get. It helps support business, it helps support actors, it helps to grow the arts in our communities, and it helps people expand their horizons and view life in a different way. So, if you haven't already gotten your tickets for the "Kitchen Witches" and the other entertaining shows and events coming up at WILLow LeaVes this season, please do so now. Reservations can be made at 812-546-0640. THANK YOU for supporting live theatre and the small-town, family-owned business, WILLow LeaVes of Hope, that has made Dinner Theatre a happening thing for 5 years in Bartholomew County