Joseph Fuentes performs during Stage of the Tide's Little Shop of Horrors at North Star Theatre on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. Photo by Emily Mesner for The Cordova Times

Stage of the Tide, Cordova’s local theater group is planning a return to the stage this coming spring. Their upcoming show “Don’t Drink the Water” is set to debut in the North Star Theater on Friday, Feb. 23 and Saturday, Feb. 24.  

“Don’t Drink the Water” is written by Woody Allen and tells the story of an American family who finds themselves stuck abroad during an ill-fated vacation. The farce unfolds between characters such as a Russian priest, an incompetent embassy worker, a Sultan, and the American couple and their daughter who make business at the embassy increasingly cumbersome. The scenes all take place within the American embassy in an unnamed European country behind the Iron Curtain. The play originally appeared on Broadway in 1966, and was later made into a film adaptation in 1969 and again in 1994.   

The play marks the return of the theater group after a break last year during which no productions ran. The last show the Stage of the Tide put on was “Guys and Dolls” in November 2021. The show took special considerations at that time and was performed by a fully vaccinated cast to a masked audience.  

Barclay Kopchak, director of Stage of the Tide says that in 2022 there was a lack of participation. Kopchak thinks this may have been due to the production she chose, “The Pirates of Penzance,” which only drew about seven people out for auditions. This year Kopchak opted for a non-musical play with fewer roles to fill. 

Kopchak says a lot of factors go into deciding which productions to undertake.  

“I pore over lists of community theater productions around the country and generally look for shows that make me laugh or inspire me,” she said.  

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Many of the plays chosen are recommendations from community members or ideas gained from the annual Valdez Theater Conference.  

“I’m open to most anything which could appeal to a broad age range and doesn’t require too many male roles,” she said. Kopchak says she was drawn to “Don’t Drink the Water” for its light comedic tone and hopes the well-known name of Woody Allen will draw further interest.  

“It’s also set in the mid-1990s which is a decade we haven’t focused on before,” she said.  

The theater group was originally started by Bonnie Honkola in 1983 with “Lily the Felon’s Daughter.” Later, in 1986, Honkola officially established the group as Stage of the Tide.  

Stage of the Tide now operates under the umbrella of Cordova Arts and Pageants, a nonprofit whose mission is to foster education, understanding, and appreciation of the arts and humanities in Cordova. The theater production finances itself through ticket sales, which Kopchak says generally breaks even.  

Cordovans who are looking to participate in a late-winter activity should not be deterred by lack of acting ability, as Kopchak says there is a spot for everyone.  

“It takes a lot of the community to put on a show,” she said.  

Supportive roles are available for set designers, costume wranglers, prop specialists, make-up artists, and light and sound techs behind the scenes. The production also relies on volunteer effort to run the front of the house taking tickets and setting up during the show. Those who are interested in participating should contact Kopchak at [email protected] or 907-227-0452, or Amber Nolan at 907-423-1622. 

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