‘Ballad’ set to return
Baldwinites past and present will be heading the cast of "The Ballad of Black Jack" when it comes to the stage of Rice Auditorium as a part of this year's Maple Leaf Festival. The Festival is set for Oct. 20 and 21; the Ballad will open one day earlier.
Returning to the show is Jim Tuchscherer, who played Dow his freshman year at Baker University and went on to play the comedy lead, Zeke, as well as the leading man, Jacob Branson. He has just completed an extended run of "Oklahoma!" i Topeka in the role of Curly. In 1983, he played Branson opposite Robin Miller of Baldwin, who again becomes the leading lady. Robin is well known in Baldwin for her lead roles in "The King and I" and "The Music Man."
Robin was Melinda when Al Johnson the Ballad's very first Branson, became Branson again in 1986 at Liberty Hall in Lawrence. It was assumed that this would be the last performance ever of the musical, which depicts area history in the years 1855 and 1856.
Bob Martin and T.J. Danley, both of Baldwin and long-time Ballad cast members, will appear, respectively, as John Brown, the abolitionist, and Frank Coleman, the killer. Fran Hopkins of Lawrence will be the flirtatious Liza, a role she played when she was Fran Lippert and lived in Baldwin.
A newcomer to the cast will be Rye Musgrave of Baldwin. Rye will play Oliver Brown, the youngest son of the famous slavery fighter.
Former Baker student Hal Bundy will play string bass, following in the footsteps of his father, the late Harold Bundy of Ottawa, who was in the orchestra pit for most of the Ballad's 15-year history. Playwright-composer Don Mueller will be at the piano.
Tickets will go on sale soon. There will be no individual seat reservations. Instead, adults may buy a general admission ticket for $8, or a seat in the reserved section for $10. Seating in both sections will be on a first-come basis, but those with reserved tickets are assured of seats in the center section, nearer to the stage.
Evening performances on Oct. 19 and 20 will be at 7:30; Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Throughout its life, this historical musical has been a part of the annual Maple Leaf Festival, an event regularly scheduled for the third weekend of October. Whether area school children will be able to attend a special school children's matinee is not known, as district schools have scheduled in-service training for the day the show opens. Children will not be in class that day. An alternate performance date is being explored.