A story centered around WWI Veterans living in an old soldiers’ home in France in the late 1950s is the story coming to the American Legion Hall in Grantsburg during Memorial Day Weekend.
“The story goes on and the audience finds out – do they have one more mission left in them?” Rod Kleiss, of Grantsburg, said.
Kleiss, along with his other two co-stars will be showing off their acting chops in a production called Heroes May 24 and 25 at 8 p.m. The shows are free to veterans and $10 for nonveterans with tickets available at the door.
The play, a comedy, revolves around three WWI veterans living in an old soldiers’ home in 1959. Heroes originated from Le Vent Des Peupliers by Gérald Sibleyras written in 2003, it was then translated and adapted for English audiences by Tom Stoppard in 2005.
The three soldiers - Henri, Phillippe and Gustav - are planning their escape from the institution in 1959 under the watchful eye of Sister Mary Madeleine, one of the many nurses watching over the soldiers.
Kleiss, playing the role of Gustave, has taken every opportunity to act over the last 30 years. He started at the Park Square Theater in Saint Paul. He has played Mathew in Anne of Green Gables, Chief Beatty in Fahrenheit 451 and Salieri in Amadeus.
Pat O’Brien plays Henri. He points out that people of a certain age (no one under the age of 30) will recognize him from playing math teacher, Mr. Dewey, on the show Saved
by the Bell. He has been featured in dozens of films along with a number of television roles and a lot of regional theater work from New York to San Diego.
Larry Ripp, Phillippe, has been a part of local theater in the Twin Cities area for over 36 years. Ripp also worked as a radio announcer for over 10 years.
Their days as soldiers are over and now they are confined to this old soldiers’ home.
“The old soldiers’ home is run by nuns,” O’Brien said. “They are sort of dominating us the whole time.”
The trio will be using these shows to gauge audience response because after they perform in Grantsburg they will be off to London, Ontario for a number of shows.
“This will be our first audience for the show, so we’re pretty excited,” Kleiss said. “We want as many people to come and see the show and get their reaction to it.”