‘Fruitcakes’ serves up holiday spirit at Ames Community Theater

Julia Ferrell

Emily Thurmaier sat vigorously sewing ears onto a sheep costume in the dressing room of the Ames Community Theater, 120 Abraham Dr.

The costume Thurmaier, play producer at ACTORS, worked on needed to be completed within three hours for “Fruitcakes,” the latest holiday production for the theater company.

Around her, numerous cast members swarmed to the two clothing racks for costumes they would need for dress rehearsal. Among them were two of the lead actors, Jack Sanders and Walt Hermanson.

Sanders, a 15-year-old from Ames, is somewhat new to the ACTORS stage. After following his brother and sister into theater a few years ago, Sanders landed roles in “High School Musical,” “Big: the Musical” and the lead in the Story Theater Company’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

Sanders said he is excited to take the stage in “Fruitcakes” as Jamie, a runaway boy who is taken in by the town’s Mr. Fix-it, Mack.

“The characters are insane,” Thurmaier said. “Imagine the most eclectic group of people and then put them in the same town.”

Walt Hermanson, a board member and acting veteran of the ACTORS company, plays the fatherly figure of Mack. After performing in a production of “Fiddler on the Roof” in 1986, Hermanson has supported local theater companies.

Hermanson said he loves sharing the stage with his young co-star.

“He’s kind of my onstage director,” Hermanson said.

In the last few months of practice, the cast of actors has become very close.

One duo in the show, Troy Rutter and Ben Sulzberger, play a father and son. While Rutter is the president of ACTORS and Sulzberger’s mother is the president for Story Theater Company, both are pleased to have the opportunity to work together.

“We run through the show and are still laughing after six or seven weeks,” Rutter said.

While Rutter has found a happy balance between acting and heading the company, his co-star has been keeping busy. Along with juggling his lead role, 12-year-old Sulzberger also manages the two labrador retrievers used for the show while also writing a script of his own when not on stage.

ACTORS brings a wide range of talented local performers to the stage and pairs them with an equally entertaining show.

About “Fruitcakes”

“Fruitcakes,” written by Julian Wiles, takes place during Christmas at McCord’s Ferry, S.C., where a child named Jamie has run away from home. He finds shelter in Mack’s Whirligig Emporium and, after stealing a fruitcake, is taken under Mack’s wing as the man tries to find Jamie’s way home. Combined with a lost cat named Tutti Frutti, a chicken pox epidemic and thousands of outdoor Christmas lights, “Fruitcakes” is a story of alienation, understanding and reconciliation. The show is directed by Dean Stevens, tech directed by Jim Wilcox and produced by Emily Thurmaier and Jane Kennedy-Funk.


When: Nov. 28, Dec. 4, 5, 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 29, Dec. 6 and 13 at 2 p.m.

Where: ACTORS, 120 Abraham Dr.

Cost: $15