The Heiress And The Meat Cleaver

AROUND THE RIM COUNTRY

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She's the beautiful heiress to an emerald mine. He's the dashing masseur at her country club. They met when she passed out in the steam room and he used mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to revive her.

"Then, when she came to," he likes to tell people, "I didn't stop!"

Now the wedding is in two weeks, but there's a slight problem: his gorgeous college roommate, who he never bothered to tell his wife-to-be about, shows up on the doorstep of their new Manhattan apartment.

What follows is "a hilarious comedy of mistaken identity," according to longtime Rim country thespian Carrie Chlarson, who produces, directs and stars in the Rim Repertory's production of Jack Sharkey's comedy "Roomies!"

Chlarson plays Zenobia Poindexter, the ex-roommate who Hal (Don Dosier) thought he'd never see again. Besides, when they roomed together, Zenobia was plain and unattractive with "mousy brown hair done up in a kind of lumpy bun" and "a permanent case of the sniffles."

Imagine Hal's surprise when he opens the door and finds Zenobia transformed into "either the most beautifully built woman in the history of the world, or the dressmaker got nothing but straight A's in 'Upholstery 101.'" Seems her former plainness was due to a now magnificently corrected hormone imbalance. What's more, his fiancee Miranda (Melanie Peters) is due back any minute.

If you think watching this all unravel sounds like an entertaining way to spend an evening, you're thinking too conservatively. "We can't get through a rehearsal without cracking up again and again, and we know the lines by heart," Chlarson warns.

How did a modest person like Chlarson end up with a penchant for acting in front of large audiences? "I just find it fun to try on somebody else for awhile," she explained.

After graduating in 1988, Chlarson got married and moved to Mesa for a while. When she returned, Siler's wife Kathy asked her to be in a local production of "The Butler Did It."

"I was pregnant and huge," she recalled, "but Kathy said, 'That's okay, we'll write that into the play.'" She's been part of the Rim country's theater scene ever since.

In "Roomies!," the plot thickens when Hal decides to solve his dilemma by having his slightly built friend Bert (Clint Nichols), a jockey by trade, impersonate Zenobia by dressing as the plain-looking woman she used to be. In this scenario, the real Zenobia becomes Hal's sister Gretchen from Ohio.

Needless to say, things get interesting when Miranda arrives, with Hal rushing to get the whole scene over with in time to sign the papers her lawyer (Val Greenhalgh) is bringing over ... papers that will increase his net worth by $75 million (more than enough to repay Bert with his own horse, a golden saddle, a year's supply of oats and a cashmere riding crop).

Chlarson remains close to the Silers, so it's appropriate that "Roomies!" is now playing at PHS's Studio Theater (also known as the Black Box), the facility where the couple have spent so much of their lives working with young people. The play, which opened last Thursday, continues next Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, June 22-24, at 7 p.m.

You'll find little to complain about if you attend "Roomies!" especially considering that this evening of rolling-on-the-floor-intensity laughs will only set you back $5. Heck, even a teacher can afford that.

If your appetite still isn't whetted, I have just one more thing to say about "Roomies!" Who would've thought the heiress to an emerald mine could handle a meat cleaver like that?

Tickets can be purchased at the Payson Public Library and at the door prior to performances.

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