F-Troop Star Is A Troupe

Published 4:34 pm Thursday, July 12, 2012

FARMVILLE – Like the Pony Express delivering glad tidings, a lone figure will drive over the horizon on July 29 from Cowboy Days in Buckingham to perform a fundraiser for The Waterworks Players Community Theater in their Farmville theater.

Larry Storch, whose television credits include a TV hall of fame list of shows, will perform the two-person play Love Letters with Diane Sowle, who will arrive over her own horizon. Sowle appeared as Mrs. Bucket and sang “Cheer Up, Charlie” in the original 1971 film version of Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory.

Proceeds from the one-performance-only Sunday matinee at 3 p.m. on July 29 will be split by the Waterworks Players and the Tom Mix Rangers.

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Storch, who performed Love Letters in an Off-Broadway performance this summer, appeared in such television shows as F-Troop, Get Smart, Sergeant Bilko, The Monkees, Columbo, Fantasy Island, Alias Smith And Jones, That Girl, I Dream Of Jeannie, Gomer Pyle, Gilligan's Island, Car 54 Where Are You, The Ed Sullivan Show and All In The Family.

Movies and stage performances were also numerous for the actor/comedian, who is no stranger to Buckingham's Cowboy Days celebration and, at 89, is only semi-retired.

Storch and the 82-year old Sowle, who also appeared in Clear And Present Danger in 1994 and Guarding Tess, “will come in on Friday and do a short run-through. They know the show. They'll come in on Friday and see what I've set up for them,” the Waterworks Players' Dudley Sauve told The Herald.

“They've already told me what they need, set-wise,” he said. “There's only two people in the cast. It's only two chairs and a table. But that will be set up for them. Whether or not we need microphones, I don't know, but we'll take care of all the technical stuff.”

Sauve can't wait.

“It's an opportunity for our volunteers to work with a professional,” he said.

Love Letters, written by A. R. Gurney and nominated for a Pulitzer, is about two people reading a lifetime's correspondences to each other, life's ups and downs woven between the endearing and enduring relationship shared by the two characters.

“It's a nice romantic valentine,” Sauve said.

So how did it happen? How is Storch finding himself in Farmville on the last Sunday afternoon in Sunday.

Sauve, who taught in the Buckingham County school system, explained that a former student with whom he remains in touch, Mitch Toney, called “and said that Larry was coming in for Cowboy Days and was willing to do the Waterworks a favor and do the fundraiser for us…And I said, 'Of course I'm interested.'”

Toney knew Storch, Sauve said, through the Cowboy Days celebrations.

Storch's gesture is a big deal to the local theater group, which has been performing in Farmville for more than 40 years.

The performance of Love Letters, Sauve said, will “mean national recognition for a small community theater.

And, he added, “it means a boost to our finances, probably around a thousand dollars, that we can very much use. We're talking about a new storage facility of some sort right now.”

Tickets to the performance can be obtained online, at waterworksplayers.org, or by calling The Waterworks Players at 392-3452. The reserved seat tickets cost $20.

Sauve said he has been in touch with Storch's advance manager, who has sent down poster art for the show.

“We'll get the poster up and get the publicity up as much as we can,” Sauve said, “and hope we can do a good job filling the house that one day.”