HOPEDALE – The Hope Players and the Clark Gable Foundation have announced the cast for their co-production of the comedy, “Capt. Racket,” by Charles Townsend, adapted for readers’ theatre and directed by Charles Calabrese of Wintersville.

The staged reading will be presented for one performance only, this Friday, September 23, at 7:30 p.m. at Hopedale United Methodist Church. Advance tickets are available by contacting the Gable Foundation at 740-942-4989. “Capt. Racket” centers on a lawyer of the same name—his rank comes from his service in the National Guard—who gets in trouble for lying to his wife and his uncle. His best friend, Timothy Tolman, the character played by Clark Gable at Hopedale High, tries to help the Captain, an effort that gets him in trouble with his own wife. Hollywood legend Clark Gable played the part of Timothy Tolman in Hopedale High School’s production of the play in 1916, and his grandson, Clark James Gable, will perform that role with a local cast on Friday.

Clark James Gable is the son of Clark Gable’s only son, actor John Clark Gable. He attended the New York Film Academy and recently completed shooting for an as-yet-untitled feature film in Europe. His current project is “Finding Gable,” a documentary which traces his lineage, the impact his grandfather had on American film history and finding his own path in the performing arts.

Another cast member with a connection to the 1916 Hopedale High production is Joanne Murdock Stives, a Hopedale resident making her Hope Players debut in the role of Clarice Racket. Stives’ grandmother, Virginia Hervey Merryman, played Clarice in Hopedale High’s 1916 production along with Clark Gable. Stives brought the play to the attention of the Gable Foundation and the Hope Players, leading to the current production.

A third cast member making her Hope Players debut is Jackie Seleski Rocchi of Cadiz, who portrays Katy, the maid. Rocchi has been secretary of the Clark Gable Foundation for the past 20 years. She works closely with Gable Foundation executive director Nan Mattern and volunteers at the Foundation’s gift shop and museum.

The rest of the cast includes many veterans of the Hope Players and other area community theatres, according to adapter-director Charles Calabrese. “I think audiences will enjoy the mixture of Hollywood glamour and hometown talent in our cast,” He said. Rick Call of Steubenville is cast as Captain Robert Racket. Call, a veteran of over a hundred local productions, most recently performed in the Hope Players readers’ theatre presentation of “Seven Keys to Baldpate” earlier this year. A talented musician, Call’s skill with the saxophone will be on display in Friday’s production.

Rob DeSantis of Follansbee will portray Mr. Dalroy, the Captain’s father-in-law. DeSantis, seen most recently in Hope Players productions of “Annie” and “Seven Keys to Baldpate,” is a veteran actor and director who has appeared onstage frequently with the Hope Players, the Brooke Hills Playhouse, the Potter Players, and the Towngate Theatre.   Rich Ivaun of Weirton is pulling double duty, playing Hobson, an employee of a New York restaurant, and serving as stand-by for Clark James Gable as Timothy Tolman, in the event of an emergency. Ivaun made his Hope Players debut last fall as Daddy Warbucks in “Annie.” He has appeared in productions by the Brooke Hills Playhouse, Towngate Theatre, Ohio University Eastern, the Steubenville Players, and West Liberty University.

Joseph Pino of Steubenville will perform the role of the Narrator for “Capt. Racket.” He made his debut with the Hope Players this past winter in “Seven Keys to Baldpate.” After being away from theater since his high school days, he returned to the stage in the Brooke Hills Playhouse productions of “A Bad Year for Tomatoes” and “Mary Rose.” ReGina Pino of Steubenville will play the part of Lucinda Tolman, the wife of the character played by Clark Gable at Hopedale High. She appeared in many productions at the College of Steubenville, as well as the Brooke Hills Playhouse productions of “A Bad Year for Tomatoes” and “Mary Rose,” and this year’s Hope Players production of “Seven Keys to Baldpate.” Roger VanHorn of Weirton, who is cast as the Captain’s eccentric uncle, Obadiah Dawson, has performed with the Hope Players, the Brooke Hills Playhouse and the Weirton Community Players. Most recently, he was part of the Hope Players’ presentation of “Seven Keys to Baldpate. This past summer he was seen as an extra in the Weirton-filmed movie, “Super 8.”

Pictured above (left to right), Jackie Rocchi and Joanne Stives rehearse for the Hope Players and Clark Gable Foundation readers’ theatre co-production of  “Capt. Racket,” a comedy by Charles Townsend.

For more on this, and the Gable Museum events planned for this weekend, check out this weeks print edition of the Harrison News-Herald.