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After another successful season of "The Confession," the Carlisle Inn, Sugarcreek began the second half of their season with the premiere of "Half-Stitched, The Musical."
Based on the novel "The Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club," by Wanda E. Brunstetter, the most unlikely group of quilters come together in Amish widow, Emma Yoder's home to find they will learn more than just quilting.
Emma thought she would find herself surrounded by a group of elderly women, eager to share her love of quilting, but is shocked to find such a motley crew of misfits. Emma enlists the help of her dear friend Lamar Miller, who is a fine quilter himself and has created the most unique quilt patterns. Emma feels that she will have her work cut out for her and she looks to God for guidance.
A burly, biker named Jan, "the man," finds himself attending the class in order to fulfill a community service requirement after getting out of jail. Pam Johnston, "with a 'T'," has forced her husband Stuart to attend the class in hopes that it would be something they could do as a couple and help mend their slowly unraveling marriage.
Ruby Lee Williams is a preacher's wife, looking for a little "me time" and hoping to find solace in the company of others after overhearing negative talks of her husband. After years of faithful service to their church, it seems the community has lost faith in their leader. Star, an outcast, is taking the class as a favor to her grandmother; the only one in her life who truly understands her in her times of need and Paul Ramirez stumbles upon the class after bringing an unfinished quilt to Emma's home for repair. His wife had started making the quilt for their daughter before she passed away in a car accident, but Emma convinces Paul to learn to finish it himself.
As each character introduced themselves, they shared their musical talents and expressed their personalities in song. The jokes continued to roll throughout the play as Stuart overly stressed his annoyance at being forced to attend the class and continually nit-picked at his seemingly perfect wife. Jan and Stuart's never ending banter and teasing of one another has Emma worried there will be trouble and the boisterous pastor's wife is not afraid to share her opinion of the whole situation.
During the second act of the musical, Paul gives a heart-wrenching performance as he describes life as a military man serving time in Afghanistan and returning home to find his wife had perished in a terrible car accident, and towards the end of the play, the lives of two of the students are changed forever as they find they have more in common than just attending a silly quilting class.
Emma begins to realize that God has placed this group of misfits in her home not only to help them learn to quilt, but to guide them in sewing the pieces of their fragmented lives back together. She also finds the women of the quilting class have her best interests at heart as they help Emma to discover her feelings may be deeper than she realized for Lamar Miller.
Having read the book, I found the play stuck to the basic story line, yet was adopted to take place in the Sugarcreek area which made it very relatable. Watching this performance as a theater-in-the-round or arena theater performance, brought new meaning to the term center stage. Audience members sat all around the stage as the performers moved about and performed to all sides of the room. I really enjoyed this style of performance. It really made me feel as if I was a part of the play and the drama myself.
It was nice to see a few familiar faces return to the stage. Kyle Whitney, who played Samuel Lapp in the 2013 performance of "The Confession," makes his return as Jan Sweet and Rachel Grimes, Mary Stoltzfus in the 2013 performance of "The Confession," returns as Star. Adam Lowe also returns to Sugarcreek as Lamar Miller having played Samuel Lapp in the 2012 performance of "The Confession."
Make a day of it...
Carlisle Inn offers a full Amish country experience with buggy rides, a small Bulk Food store, two gift shops and restaurant and bakery all on campus. "Almost everything you get in Amish country can be found right here on campus," said Mike Miller, Inn Keeper at the Carlisle Inn.
Packages are customizable, so plan to spend the day and night at the Carlisle Inn, Sugarcreek. The Carlisle Inn is located at 1357 Old Route 39 in Sugarcreek. "Half Stitched, The Musical," is available at the Carlisle Inn, Sugarcreek from Aug. 22-Dec. 21, 2013. Tickets are $35 per person and are available online or at the box office. Visit www.dhgroup.com/en/sc/sc-amish-country-musicals.php or call 855-344-7547 for more information.