Rossland’s local theatre company, Iron Mountain Theatre is excited about a new play they will soon be performing. Aug. 12 and 13, entitled Mennonite Mafia: The Untold Story of Abraham Harms.
Iron Mountain Theatre is following up their past hits like Ski Bum: The Musical, White Star Lady, and Company Jump, with another all-original musical.
The play is being put on by a group of six professional actors, along with live musicians, including banjo virtuoso Gabe Gaudet.
The story follows Abraham Harms, who moves with his family from Ontario to Mexico, because of differing beliefs with the government at the time.
Peters explained that Harms felt the children were unrightfully being forced into being in school past a point where it was necessary and so made the move.
When he arrives, he discovers his new home of Chuatemac, Mexico to be stricken by a longstanding drought. When new trade relations between North America come to fruition, Harms finds himself unable to farm or sell his handcrafted furniture across the border.
With times as desperate as they can get, he decides to team up with local drug cartel in transporting their goods across the border. He thus forms the first ever: Mennonite Mafia!
“He was the first guy to have the idea of smuggling marijuana across the border in the furniture that he had made,” he said. “In 1989, he was also the first person to be busted.”
He said it is inspired by true events, but since there are so few articles written on Harms, they did elaborate on some parts.
“We did have to fictionalize some of the parts, but all of the facts in the story are true,” he said.
The show starts out very light, with comedic elements, then heats up in the second part as the realism of what they are doing catches up with them, he said.
“There are a lot of laughs, a lot of heartfelt tunes,” Peters said, adding that they want to “really tell the story of these six characters and how their lives are affected by this one action.”
Peters said he had been wanting to write the play for 8 or 9 years.
“I read an article in the Reader’s Digest while at my Grandma’s house,” he said. “It had a big headline that said Mennonite Mafia, and I thought it would be the perfect musical.”
Peters wrote the play along with Mark Pollard.
Peters, along with directing, is also starring in the show as Harms.
“Directing and being in the show has proven to be quite a challenge, but luckily I have good friends who can offer me an outside eye when I’m onstage,” he said, but added it’s not the first time he has both starred and directed a play. “Jane (Gaudet) and I started a theatre company almost 10 years ago, when we started it I was right out of theatre school and that’s what I was doing, directing and being in the show. I promised myself I would never do it again, it’s just too stressful.”
But, as they starter rehearsals, they found they were missing someone to play Harms, so Peters agreed.
The music is by Nadine Tremblay. Lyrics are written by her and Pollard.
They only have three shows planned at the moment, which Peters explained is usual when you are doing a brand new show.
“Our intention for this was just to get it on its feet,” he said. “It’s a brand new script, brand new score, so we just wanted to make sure we did it right the first time. As you workshop a play, you find out things about the performance that you couldn’t find out before.”
They also had to have the shows on the Sunday and Monday because the actors are mostly Gold Fever Follies actors, and those are their only days off.
Peters hopes that the show can continue on in the future, and would love to put the show on in Victoria, where a few of the actors went to school.
After this show, Iron Mountain is going on hiatus for awhile, as a few of the key players are heading back to school.
“We’re not exactly sure what’s going to happen, there might be another ski bum, we’re just kind of focusing on this project and then we’ll see what happens after that,” he said.
The shows are Sunday, Aug. 12 and Monday, Aug. 13 at 7:30 pm at the Rossland Miners’ Hall, as well as Monday, Aug. 20 at 8 p.m. at the Warfield Community Hall
Tickets are $15 and are available at the Rossland Hardware, by phone at 250-364-3823, or at the door before the show.