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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘Catfish Moon’ promises hilarity among friends

Jerome Gray, left, Billy Hultquist, center, and Dave Rideout rehearse a scene from Spokane Civic Theatre's "Catfish Moon." (Christopher Anderson)

Three old buddies pack up their fishing gear, head to their favorite lake haunt, and in the course of the weekend deal head-on with adult issues and the meaning of friendship.

That’s the premise of “Catfish Moon” from playwright Laddy Sartin, opening Friday at Spokane Civic Theatre’s Firth J. Chew Studio Theatre.

Don’t get the idea that “Catfish Moon” is a heavy drama. It’s more “Southern-fried comedy.”

Christopher Wooley, making his directing debut with Civic, calls it “absolutely hilarious.”

“It’s a show that you should bring your husband to, even if he’s not a big theater person,” Wooley said, “because it’s something he’ll get a kick out of.”

It’s a story Wooley also can relate to. He grew up in Omak, Wash., and has fond memories of weekends at Conconully Lake with family and friends.

“Friendship is a big theme throughout the show,” he said. “(The characters) give each other a hard time and aren’t afraid to joke around.

The three buddies are Curley (Dave Rideout), Gordon (Billy Hultquist) and Frog (Jerome Gray). Joining them is Betty (Sara Nicholls), who connects the three; she’s Curley’s sister, Frog’s ex-wife and Gordon’s girlfriend.

Hultquist is a fairly new face at Civic, having performed in last season’s “The Full Monty” and in “The Boys Next Door” at Interplayers.

“He’s absolutely phenomenal,” Wooley said.

Rideout is a Civic veteran who earned raves for his role as Carl in last season’s production of “Opus” at Interplayers. He also acted last year in Civic’s “The Sisters Rosensweig,” with Nicholls, another Civic veteran.

Gray, Wooley said, had taken a hiatus from the stage, but now is coming back. His past credits include roles in Civic’s “You Can’t Take it With You” and “Gigi.”

The cast has come together nicely during rehearsals to create a family atmosphere.

“I think it was almost three weeks before we could get through rehearsal because we were laughing so hard,” Wooley said. “The interactions between the actors are very natural and authentic. It really looks like they’re known each other for 20 years.”