The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

January 29, 2014

USP announces show, auditions

Union Street Players (USP), Pella’s award winning community theatre, is kicking off their 2014 season with a comedy written by a local playwright. “Ham Buns and Potato Salad,” written by Tom Vander Well, will make its world premiere on the stage of the Joan Kuyper Farver Auditorium in the Pella Community Center April 10-13.

The full length comedy in two acts is set in the fictional town of Hebron, Iowa (population 318) and tells the story of a local boy who returns home for the first time since leaving for college. The character’s return has the small town buzzing. Not only because the character made a name for himself, but because of a years old town scandal that was never resolved. Those who have read the script have been surprised when the humor gives way to a serious twist in the second act.

“The play is rooted in my observations and experiences of living in a town that size for a few years, and from memories of visiting my grandparents when I was a kid,” Vander Well said. “Writers are always encouraged to ‘write about what you know,’ and what I know is Iowa, and especially small town Iowans of Dutch heritage. I think local audiences will recognize people they know in the characters. I’ve been encouraged to add a disclaimer that any resemblance to actual persons is purely coincidental.”

This will be Vander Well’s second original script produced by Union Street Players. In 2009 his one-act “Letters from Pella” premiered at Tulip Time and told a largely forgotten story of scandal and conflict among Pella’s founders. That summer he started writing “Ham Buns” and the script has gone through a series of drafts and revisions over the years. In the fall of 2012, Vander Well was invited to present the script at the Missouri Playwrights Workshop at the University of Missouri.

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