It Runs in the Family (2002)


by Ray Cooney

The Palace Theatre, Vinton
May 10, 12, 17, 18, 19, 2002

Director: Nancy Beckman
Technical Director: Mary Dee Phillips

Lori Smith

produced by special arrangement with Samuel French

Actor, author, and director Ray Cooney is noted for a string of offbeat, door slamming British farces, including Run for Your Wife, Funny Money, and Cash on Delivery, which have enjoyed successful runs at Theatre Cedar Rapids and The Old Creamery Theatre. Now, Ray Cooney comes to the ACT I stage with this hit farce, set in a London hospital three days before Christmas. Dr. David Mortimore, about to deliver an important lecture, finds an unexpected visitor calling on him — Jane Tate, a nurse with whom he’d had a brief affair almost nineteen years earlier. And with her, waiting in the car, is an even bigger shock . . . the son he never knew he had — a spike haired, deranged punk, wanted by the law, who is more than eager to meet his long lost father. This is a fast paced, action packed, hysterically funny romp with unexpected plot twists on every page, and some wonderful roles to spotlight our impressive group of ACT I comic actors and actresses.

Ray Cooney’s frenetic farces always begin life on the London stage with Mr. Cooney himself both directing and playing the leading role. In various productions of this play, Ray Cooney has played both the roles of David Mortimore and Hubert Bonney.

Plot: Nineteen years ago at St. Andrews Hospital in London, there were two young doctors named David Mortimore and Hubert Bonney, and a young nurse named Jane Tate. Nurse Tate abruptly left employment at St. Andrews, and the doctors haven’t seen her since…

Setting: The doctors’ common room in St. Andrews Hospital in London, three days before Christmas in the present day.


Dr. David Mortimore: Rick Murphy
Dr. Mike Connolly: Travis Hendricks
Dr. Hubert Bonney: Jim Hilliard
Matron: Diana Cumberland Lamphier
Sir Willoughby Drake: Steve Arnold
Jane Tate: Bunny Feller
Rosemary Mortimer: Lois Ewins
Leslie: Matt Meyer
Sister: Traci Higgins
Police Seargent: Rob Glass*
Bill: Greg Kilberger

*ACT I debut

About the Cast and Company

Rick Murphy (Dr. David Mortimore) is back for his third ACT I role in two seasons. He made his debut as Colonel Pickering in “My Fair Lady” in February of 2001 and last fall played Hysterium in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” Travis Hendricks (Dr. Mike Connolly) appeared in “Oliver!”, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” and appeared last month as Frederick Fleet in “The Titanic Diaster Hearings.” Jim Hilliard (Dr. Hubert Bonney) is a long time ACT I favorite with a long list of credits. Most recently he played Clyde Miller in “Life with Mother.” Other productions in which he has played major roles include “The Rainmaker,” “Twigs,” and “The Mousetrap.” Diana Cumberland Lamphier (Matron) made her debut in “The Foreigner” and has also appeared in “Marvin’s Room,” “The Gifts of the Magi,” and many other shows. Steve Arnold (Sir Willoughby Drake) is just filling in as a favor for the person who should have had this part but forgot to try out. Bunny Feller (Jane Tate) is back for her fifth show, having appeared previously this season in “Words and Music by Skeet Powers” and during past seasons in “Steel Magnolias,” “Life with Mother,” and “The Odd Couple, Female Version,” in which she made her debut as Olive Madison. Lois Ewins (Rosemary Mortimer) has appeared in “Life with Mother,” Bye Bye Birdie,” and several other ACT I shows. Matt Meyer (Leslie) a freshman at WHS with many credits with us, is testing the ACT I comic waters for the first time with his truly outrageous role. He has several dramatic roles under his belt, including Benvolio in “Romeo and Juliet” and Harold Bride in “The Titanic Disaster Hearings” earlier this season as well as Colin in “The Secret Garden” and Edmund in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” during previous seasons. Traci Higgins (Sister) makes her acting debut with us but appeared last season as one of our readers in our poetry reading and this year in our readers’ theatre production of “The Titanic Disaster Hearings.” Rob Glass (Police Seargent) is the vocal music instructor at WHS, making his ACT I debut in this production. Greg Kilberger (Bill) has delivered many delightful comic roles for our audiences through the years, including major roles in “Knock ‘Em Dead,” “Marvin’s Room,” and “The Girls in 509.”

Director Nancy Beckman has appeared in numerous major roles in ACT I productions, among them “Life with Mother” and “The Rainmaker.” Her most notable achievement with us has surely been Blanche duBois in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” This is her third production as director, having previously staged “Klondike Kalamity” and “Dancers,” but she also had a four year stint as drama director at WHS a few years back. Mary Dee Phillips (Technical Director) returns to ACT I after a long absence. Some of our shows for which she has served as technical director include “Bridge to Terabithia,” “The Sound of Music,” and “Said the Spider to the Spy.” She also served as director for “Same Time Next Year” and “Steel Magnolias.”

Here’s what local critic Julie Zimmer wrote about It Runs in the Family in her column “Frame by Frame,” in a review that appeared in both the Cedar Valley Daily Times and on the Palace Theatre website: (Reprinted with the author’s permission)

If laughter is the best medicine, I’ve added years to my life thanks to the fine medical staff at St. Andrew’s Hospital, London. Their absolutely perfect comic timing and physical delivery kept me in stitches at the Friday night opening of “It Runs in the Family.”

Director Nancy Beckman chose both the vehicle and the cast wisely. Though the title doesn’t have much oomph, the script is full of funny lines and tongue-in-cheek characters well-matched to the local players. It is an even team, ably lead by relative newcomer (in his third community theater production) Rick Murphy of Vinton and longtime veteran Jim Hilliard, also of Vinton, in his umpteenth—and possibly best ever—appearance with ACT I. Greg Kilberger of Iowa City brought down the house in a smaller but colorful role as a mouthy, freewheeling patient with a touch of dementia, but there was not a weak link in the chain from Rob Glass, Matt Meyer, Steve Arnold, Bunny Feller and Lois Ewins to Travis Hendricks, Traci Higgins, Linda Radcliffe and Diana Cumberland Lamphier.

If I tell you how much I enjoyed Sir Willoughby Drake’s subtle slide into his cups I’ll have to describe the chameleon performance of 18-year-old “Leslie” who can’t decide whether he is an alienated punk rocker or simply in need of a hug from his grandma. And then there was the naive but foxy lady in the red dress who shared her heart of gold at the drop of a nurse’s cap…and the three-way struggle on the window ledge with the syringe full of tranquilizer…but, I have to stop somewhere. You’ll just have to see it for yourself.