On Saturday night, I joined a small group of people at the Peoria Civic Center for the Montana Repertory Theatre's presentation of "Bus Stop".
I say "small group" because it was one of the sparsest audiences I have seen at a Civic Center Theater production.
What a shame that so few people were on hand to enjoy this exciting event.
Peoria was given a rare treat in this visit from the prestigious Montana Rep and their excellent production of this William Inge classic.
While many people are familiar with the 1956 film version starring Marilyn Monroe and Don Murray, the stage version is much cleaner and succinct.
The entire play takes place in a diner west of Kansas City in March of 1955. The diner serves as a bus stop on bus routes to and from the American west. A snowstorm has closed the highway and stranded the bus and its passengers at the diner for most of a night.
The action explores the various relationships between the eight characters.
There is Bo, the immature, inexperienced cowboy who is taking cabaret singer Cherie (literally by force) to his ranch in Montana to be his wife.
There is the married owner of the diner, Grace, who is beginning a relationship with the bus driver Carl.
Another of the passengers is Professor Lyman, a drunken former teacher with a shady past involving underage girls. He begins a flirtation with the young, naive waitress Elma.
Virgil is an older cowboy and father figure to Bo. He is ultimately and literally left out in the cold at play's end.
Overseeing the group is Sheriff Will. His is the voice of morality, reason, and conscience.
All of the actors did a splendid job and the diner set was nothing short of perfect.
Thanks to the Montana Repertory Theatre for this wonderful production, and thanks to the Peoria Civic Center for taking a chance on a single night's engagement.