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Fishing for more than just laughs

Article Published: Jun. 16, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Fishing for more than just laughs

Actor Mark Woodard rehearses a scene from the fishing pier in the new Ensemble Stage production of 'Catfish Moon.' The play opens this Friday in Blowing Rock.

Photo by Jeff Eason

In the 17 years since it was first produced by the Charlotte Repertory Theatre, "Catfish Moon" has become a favorite of theater-goers who like their comedy seasoned with a little poignant warmth.

"It's definitely a comedy with some big laughs, but is also very heartwarming and a little sad in places," said Gary Lee Smith, who is directing the Ensemble Stage production of "Catfish Moon."

The play opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 17, and runs through Sunday, July 3. Tickets are on sale now.

"Catfish Moon" stars Bob Haas as Curley, Steve Moore as Gordon, Mark Woodard as Frog, and Maureen Klinedinst as Betty.

While the play never states when and where it is set, the setting is most definitely somewhere in the Deep South, perhaps Georgia, Florida or Mississippi.

"There are references to alligators, so it has to be pretty deep in the South," Smith said.

It is also modern in feel, albeit without any references that place it at any particular time. Most of the action takes place out on an old fishing pier on the end of Cypress Lake, under what is locally known as a catfish moon.

"It's really about three guys that grew up together who sort of drifted apart," Smith said. "Betty is the catalyst for the play. She was married to Frog, but now they are divorced. Frog doesn't know it but she has been seeing Gordon and he is going to ask her to marry him. Curley is Betty's big brother and he is the one who gets the guys back together for a fishing trip out on the pier where they spent a large portion of their youth just hanging out, swimming and fishing.

"It's really about reconnecting with people. There's a lot of funny stuff in there, but it's well rounded, emotionally."

Some people might be surprised to find that the role of Betty, an essentially southern yet complicated young woman, to be played by Klinedinst, an actress originally from Pennsylvania.

"That was my initial reaction too ... about the southern gal thing," Klinedinst said. "But, Betty is more than that. She's got layers and she's trying to overcome setbacks and lost time ... things that we all cope with. She wants freedom from the pressures of life, and to bring the guys together.

"This says a lot about the friendship they all share considering the trouble she's had with Frog. It's about forgiveness and living life fully and without regret."

"Catfish Moon" was written by Laddy Sartin, a playwright who grew up in the backcountry of Mississippi and who now lives in Rock Hill, S.C.

Sartin's play "Blessed Assurance" was selected for the Eudora Welty New Play Series at New Stage in Jackson, Miss., and was performed there in 1995. "Catfish Moon" was originally presented by the Charlotte Repertory Theatre in 1994, and won the prestigious Virginia Duvall Mann Award.

"Catfish Moon" was one of Ensemble Stage's play readings last fall.

Tickets & Times

Tickets for "Catfish Moon" are $16 for adults and $13 for seniors, military and students.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m., on Friday, June 17; at 3:30 p.m., Sunday, June 19; at 7:30 p.m., Monday, June 20; at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 21; at 7:30 p.m., Friday, June 24; at 3:30 p.m., Sunday, June 26; at 7:30 p.m., Monday, June 27; at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 28; at 7:30 p.m., Friday, July 1; at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, July 2; and at 3:30 p.m., Sunday, July 3.

For more information, call (828) 414-1844 or (828) 919-6196 or visit

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