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Hayes community performs five-part comedy “A Bad Year for Tomatoes”

“She’s the one!” ... The Hayes community play shows how it can be “A Bad Year for Tomatoes.” The actors portraying the hilarious, but more-real-than-not assortment of townspeople are Vince Bruce (in back) and, from left, Crystal Neuharth, Laura Yost, Annette Hand, Levi Neuharth and Jennifer Neuhauser (seated). Not in this scene is Clint Alleman.

What extremes would you go to in order to get the small-town, nosey busybodies out of your hair? For comedy-loving communities like Hayes, Midland, Milesville and Philip, that might be an unfair question.

The make-believe residents of the hilarious community of Beaver Haven aren’t really that fictional. Yes, there is a jack-of-all-trades who romantically falls for the craziest lady in town. Yes, the town gossips have a permanent target on a weird woman who is a real ... well ... witch. And, yes, the newest celebrity in town wants nothing more than to be unrecognized and live in peace. There is even a rivalry with one of the neighboring towns.

Come to think of it, it sounds like the play could really take place right here in western South Dakota.

“A Bad Year for Tomatoes” will be performed at the Hayes Community Hall on March 10 and 11 at 7:00 p.m. CST, and March 12 at 2:00 p.m. CST. This year’s performance, directed by Jennifer Milliken, will be Hayes’ 53rd annual production.

The five-part comedy begins with the famous Myra Marlowe, fed up with the pressures and demands of her acting career, has leased a house in the tiny town of Beaver Haven. She wants nothing more than to quietly record and write her autobiography, and to grow a garden with tomatoes. The character is played by Jennifer Neuhauser in her first performance at Hayes.

Playing the role of her marriage-minded agent, is Clint Alleman in his eleventh Hayes play performance. Myra likes him very, very much and likes to flirt in a friend-to-friend manner, but is also very clear that she is not for him.

She can handle him, but dealing with her nosy, ever-present neighbors is a different matter.

Making her Hayes play debut as the most intrusive Beaver Haven gossip and busybody, is Laura Yost. Her character is like a rash that never goes away, and when it does you just know that it will come back even worse.

In team-tag partnership with the first gossip, is a second, but one who is definitely not shy about sampling the available beverages – particularly the whiskey. This sloshy thorn-in-the-side is played by Crystal Neuharth in her third performance at Hayes hall.

A third gossip is, at best, on none-speaking terms with the first gossip. At worst, she is looking for a look-alike doll in which to stick pins. In her fifth year with the Hayes play is Annette Hand, who really gets into the hippie-dressed “witch” character.

Vince Bruce makes a big stink and aggravates Myra so much that, at one point, she finds it painful to even sit down. Piney is a towering, no-nonsense lumberjack and skunk trapper who just won’t go away. He is a “simple” man who wants to court a “purty” girl. He brings flowers and candy on the first date, or is that an axe and a spanking paddle? This is Vince's fifth performance in the Hayes play.

The town sheriff, Levi Neuharth in his fifth appearance, believes the townsfolks over the new-comer, especially when a missing person’s clothes and scalp are found buried in the garden.

In an attempt to shoo all the nosy townspeople away and to get some privacy, Myra invents a mad, homicidal sister who is kept locked in an upstairs room, but who occasionally escapes long enough to scare off uninvited visitors. The ruse works well, at first, but complications come up when the local handyman develops an affection for "Sister Sadie". Some of the more officious ladies decide it is their Christian duty to save the poor demented Sadie's soul. What follows will have to be seen.

The uproarious doings will keep the audience laughing up to the final curtain and then some.