The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

December 2, 2012

Jo Ellis: Dinner plus ‘Wonderful Life’ equals Christmas

Stone’s Throw Dinner Theatre to present holiday favorite

CARTHAGE, Mo. — What better way to get into the Christmas spirit than a production of “It’s a Wonderful Life” at Stone’s Throw Dinner Theatre?

Scheduled for Dec. 6 to 9 and Dec. 13 to 16, the play stars Kyle Bridges as George Bailey, Corine Probert as his wife Mary, Tom Brown as the grasping banker Henry Potter, Joe Kowalski as Clarence Odbody (George’s “second-class” guardian angel) and Hunter Drake as the young George. Drake also plays one of George and Mary’s four children.

The story relates how George, beset by overwhelming circumstances, postpones his dream of traveling and living the good life to always do “the right thing” by family, friends and his community. Driven to a point where he considers suicide, George’s guardian angel arrives on the scene and shows him what life would have been like in Bedford Falls, N.Y., without him.

The perennial favorite originated in a 1939 short story by Philip Van Doren Stern that was made into a 1946 movie. The American Film Institute recognizes “It’s a Wonderful Life” as one of the 100 best American films ever made.

Director Betty Bell said the cast of 27 “has bonded so well. They are just like a big family.” With all the set designers, costumers, and lighting and sound personnel, the production crew numbers about 40. Bell was especially complimentary to associate director Mark Sponaugle and assistant director Pam White-Schaffer, who she said have been a great help.

This will be the debut of a new cook for the dinner theater. Leann Cole, who has years of experience providing delicious meals to large groups, has joined the staff. I can attest to her culinary expertise. We worked together for years in Victorian Carthage, serving meals to tourists and guests of Kendrick Place. Later she was my partner in the Carthage Route 66 Tearoom.

Her inaugural meal will be what was always the most favorite served at Kendrick Place: Mandarin orange salad with poppy seed dressing, chicken breast over rice in a sherry/mushroom sauce, “cooked-down” (at Chris Lobby’s insistence — she was right) green beans, and baked fudge with ice cream for dessert.

As I recall, our only dilemma with this meal was whether there was enough sherry in the sauce. My vote was always for more.

There is still “spotty seating” available for this production, Bell said, but you had better hurry with your reservations.

Details: 417-358-9665.

Murder mystery

If you are not fortunate enough to find one of those spots, now is the time to make your reservations for the next Stone’s Throw event, which promises to be a hoot. An audience participation murder mystery, “My Big Fat Greek Murder,” will be presented one time only beginning at 9 p.m. New Year’s Eve.

The wedding rehearsal dinner for Sophie Poopadopoulos is turned into a crime scene with the murder of her “non-Greek” groom. While her parents try to salvage the food, Sophie locks herself in the bathroom. Uncle Zorba is enlisted to find the murderer while Aunt Moolah gives Sophie a makeover to help her find a new groom. After all, the church is already rented!

The witness/suspect list alone is worth the price of admission: famous Greek actor Yanni Depp, famous Greek opera singer Tia Maria Callous, famous Greek TV celebrity Opa Winfrey, famous Greek designer Kate Spados, famous Greek actress Olympia Dukaka and famous Greek sheeping magnate Telly Kojackie Onassis.

Who is responsible? Will Sophie find a new groom? How will you be involved? You have to pay to play. Tickets are $25 and include hors d’oeuvres, party favors and a sparkling toast at midnight. Help solve this mystery!

Address correspondence to Jo Ellis, c/o The Joplin Globe, Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802 or email

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