A month after “Blood Brothers,” the musical he directed took its final bows for Wichita Community Theatre, Joe Parrish is on stage for a role he said he couldn’t resist.
“I wanted to play God. Who wouldn’t turn that opportunity down?” he asked with a laugh.
Parrish has the title role in “Almighty Bob,” a comedy-drama about an 84-year-old admitted to a nursing facility who begins performing contemporary versions of biblical miracles – eventually claiming to be God.
“Almighty Bob” opens Oct. 16 and continues through Oct. 27 at the community theater.
Bob’s miracles confound his daughter, doctor and nurse, among others.
Parrish, decades younger than 84, said he asked the costumer at WCT whether he should gray his hair to play God, and she said that his look was fine.
He said he’s not worried about playing an older part.
“I know 80-year-old people who act younger than I do, so I don’t worry about that too much,” Parrish said.
Written by Tom Mula, “Almighty Bob” has been a favorite of community theaters since its debut in the early 2000s.
“I think it’s popular because it’s a very sweet play,” Parrish said. “It’s a comedy but it also has some very touching moments. There might even be a few tears.”
Director John Reel said he admired the variety of comedy in “Almighty Bob,” from slapstick to satire to cerebral.
“It’s interesting how the author melded all those styles into one play,” Reel said.
Reel said neither he nor Parrish had heard of the play, much less seen it performed, when it landed on the 2019 WCT schedule.
“It’s an original creation for us,” he said.
Reel said there are some technical challenges in the play – any hints would be spoilers, he added – that he and the crew were able to pull off for the performances.
The show is staged in three-quarter round on the WCT floor, he added.
The rest of the cast includes Leo Larson, who plays the angel of death; and Levi Nord, as Dr. Wally, the nursing home administrator.
Larson, who previously had lead roles in “The Curious Case of the Dog in the Nighttime” and “The Diviners,” said his role isn’t as stereotypical as it could have been.
“He isn’t necessarily a bad guy because he’s the angel of death,” Larson said. “He’s trying to make a peaceful transition to the afterlife for people.”
Nord said his role as the timid and uncertain Dr. Wally was different than other parts he’s played.
“Most of the characters I’ve played recently have been pretty confident, very strong characters,” he said. “Switching it up to play someone who’s a little more comedic and uncertain has been a change of pace.”
Parrish said audiences should feel good after they exit at the end of “Almighty Bob.”
“I think the message is that life is short and that life is beautiful,” he said. “Live every minute, that’s the message.”
When: Oct. 16-27; performances at 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays
Where: Wichita Community Theatre, 258 N. Fountain
Tickets: $15; $13 for military, seniors and students; $11 for opening night, by calling 316-686-1282