Summer show: ‘Leaving Iowa’

FAIRMONT – Road trips are a staple for most American families in the summer. The best and the worst of road trips are captured in the comedy “Leaving Iowa,” being performed by Civic Summer Theater this week at the Fairmont Opera House.

The play opens tonight and runs through Saturday, with show time at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the Opera House an hour before curtain time.

“This is a play that was written by two stand-up comics, so there is a lot of good-timing stuff,” said Cliff Jahnke, director of Civic Summer Theater.

Written by Tim Clue and Spike Manton, the plot involves a middle-aged writer (played by Ben Hernes) who returns to Iowa to spread his father’s ashes at the site of his childhood home.

“But it’s now the site of a grocery store,” Jahnke said. “So he’s trying to find the right spot to spread his ashes. Meanwhile, there are all these flashbacks to when he was young and on family vacations … It’s very funny, and I don’t always say that about comedies. But I think everyone will see something they’ve experienced.

Hernes, a freshman in high school, plays both his middle-aged and young character. His sister is played by Courtney Guetter, while Bart Clayton plays the father and Roxy Jahnke plays the mother.

“The dad is very much in control, makes sure everyone gets where they’re going,” Jahnke said. “The wife only drives a little, and it ends up with disastrous results.”

Then there are the two “every people.”

“There is an actor and an actress [who] serve in multiple roles,” Jahnke said, referring to Lynn Burgraff and Shawn Shoen. “They play Amish people, they play diner staff, mechanics, hog farmers. They are the people the family runs into on their road trips.”

“Leaving Iowa” is described as a postcard to anyone who has ever found themselves driving and revisiting fond memories of their youth.

“The humor is that we get to laugh at ourselves,” Jahnke said. “Those who never did road trips will also get to see what they missed.”