Road trips and memories focus of 'Leaving Iowa'

The Footlighters of Elk County explore the family road trip and the memories of youth in their latest production, "Leaving Iowa," which will be performed April 7, 8 and 9 at the Diamond View Restaurant in St. Marys. Written by Tim Clue and Spike Manton, and co-directed by Footlighters Carole Zendri and Rob Garner, the comedy explores the memories of middle-aged writer Don Browning as he returns home for a baptism and finds himself honoring a request to take his father's ashes to the family homestead. After discovering that his father's childhood home is now a grocery store, Don begins traveling across the state of Iowa to find an appropriate resting place for his father.As Don continues his search, he reflects on the annual family vacations of his youth and the many hours spent on the road in the back of the station wagon. Zendri said people can relate to the play because most have their own memories of long childhood road trips. Now that warmer weather is on the doorstep, she added, thoughts are turning toward the next destination. "It's a comedy about family vacations," Zendri said. "We thought it would be a good time to put this on, especially after the hard winter."She explained that scenes shift from the present, with Don traveling across the state with his dad's ashes on the passenger seat, to past memories highlighting the experiences of the family on their vacations. The main characters are Don Browning, played by Mike Ames; Sis, played by Tara Witter; Mom, played by Marisa Caruso; and Dad, played by co-director Rob Garner. Playing a variety of roles as supporting characters are Marie Goode, Derrick Goode, Samantha Garner, Jon Lehman, Tami Catalone, Mark Yankovich and Jason Phipps.