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Hillbilly Hankerin': dinner theater set at New England

NEW ENGLAND-- Pa Hereford loves his five daughters, but there are days he wonders if he should have just raised puppies.

All the girls up in the hills are suffering from what Pa calls “The Hankerin’, “because they all want to get hitched  -- and ‘Any Ol’ Man’ll Do,’ as they sing in hillbilly harmony.

When the guv’mint men come to the holler looking for land to  buy, they stir up a long-time feud between the Hererfords and the Guernseys while attracting the attention of the husband-hunting daughters.

The daffy Bickle Sisters think the Holler is about to be invaded, and newspaper editor races to get the scoop on what’s new with the feud.   And when the feared “Black Widder’ fixes up a love potion, it turns into an all out brawl.

Rainy Butte productions is presenting “Hillbilly Hankerin’” by Pat Cook as its fall dinner theater.

The performances are at the New England Memorial Hall, 925 Main St., as follows:

V  7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9 and Friday and Saturday, Nov. 16-17. Doors open at 6 p.m. $45 per person -- appetizers, choice of entree and dessert.

V A matinee performance at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. $25 per person -- appetizers and dessert.

“It’s a group of people from walks of life,” said Director Shannay Witte. “We have fun doing what we do.”

Ariann Doe, who plays Betty Hereford, describes her character as, ‘I’m a manhunting sister -- I’m one of five sisters who are searching for  men -- any kind.”

This is Doe’s first year with the cast.

“I look forward Wednesdays and Sunday nights,” she said. “It’s been a blast… it’s new to me. I’ve been to plays before and I know most of the people.”

Sara Krebs, who plays Sara.Lee Poke -- the newspaper lady -- added, “I’m nosy. I have to know what’s going on in the Holler.. To get the scoop.”

Keith Witte, who plays Matt, one of the government men, said he and his team are looking to purchase some ground.

“It takes a team of government men to try to do this,” he added.

Donald Nordby plays Pa’s brother, “Silent Cy,” and is the set designer. He also describes himself as the play’s Best Boy -- the right-hand man to the director.

He describes the play as very comical -- the characters being hillbilly funny.

“There’s a lot of good characters in the play,” he said. “If you want to come, it’s time to get out, get a laugh, have a good meal and be entertained for the evening.”

The dinner will feature the choice of either prime rib or seasoned pork roast with all the trimmings.

Upon arriving at the Memorial Hall, appetizers will be served. Dinner is served in between the acts, with dessert at the end. (The Sunday matinee is limited to appetizers and dessert.)

“It’s a sit-down dinner served by the cast in costume and in character,” Witte added.

Rainy Butte Productions is a non-profit organization. Profits are donated to a community project -- perhaps a trip by the high school music department or improvements on the memorial hall.

“This is our fifth year of doing a dinner theater,” Witte said. “It’s so much fun, and such a nice thing for the community to get out and see all the talent we have to offer. It’s good for us to see people laugh and have a good time.”

Tickets are sold online at