Premiere of Once Upon a Farm welcomes audiences back to Theatre at the Center

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Information provided by Theatre at the Center

MUNSTER, Ind. (August 27, 2022) – A new one-man multi-media play written, directed, and performed by columnist and author Philip Potempa marks the first small-run of stage programming at Theatre at the Center at The Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster following the two-and-half-year hiatus following the COVID pandemic.

Once Upon a Farm: A Story, a Family, a Tradition has seven performances, both matinees and evenings on September 14-19.

A family farm in Indiana

Audiences will be transported to a re-creation on stage of the family farm located in Northwest Indiana as well as an exciting multi-media presentation with video, music and rare images to delight and engage with humor, passion, and life’s lessons.

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Potempa has been chronicling his family’s century-year-old farm in published newspaper columns and books, which serve as the inspiration for introducing all of the favorite names and stories of his writings to audiences. These tales will be brought to life on stage in what he describes as “a relaxing and nostalgic” one-hour and 45 minute journey — inviting audiences to revisit yesteryear.

The first act begins with the details and challenges of his grandparents’ arrival from Poland and their transition while raising nine children in 1929 as the Great Depression swept the country. They accepted a new chapter to their lives when the family left Chicago city life for farm landscapes to learn to work the land of Northwest Indiana.

Following intermission, the second act continues the family story and includes the full-circle approach of Potempa’s own odyssey, from cornfields to column writing, and the launch of his farm tale inspired columns two decades ago in 2002, and now celebrating the 20th anniversary milestone in 2022 for his popular newspaper feature which readers still love to greet weekly.

Potempa chronicles the past, and his journey

Potempa said the idea to write a one-man play, starring himself as the narrator and storyteller, was something he’s pondered since the first time he produced one of his “From the Farm” cooking demonstration stage shows in May 2007 at the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, which coincided with the release of his second published cookbook.

“While audiences love the process and animated theatrics watching recipes whipped up on stage and seeing the final result unveiled, I discovered it was also the banter with the audience and stories associated with my family and the history of the menus shared which was equally appealing and entertaining,” Potempa said.

“I always thought a one-man stage play or show, with less emphasis on the cooking and recipes aspect and more spotlight on family history using a dose of humor and storytelling, could be just as appetizing and amusing to audiences.”

Following the first “From the Farm” cooking stage show in 2007 at Star Plaza Theatre, Potempa produced and performed four more “From the Farm” franchise stage shows switching venues to Theatre at the Center in Munster, including two shows in 2017, one in 2018 and one in 2019.

Potempa said Once Upon a Farm: A Story, a Family, a Tradition includes audience interaction and banter as a means for audiences to rekindle their own personal treasured family memories from yesteryear.

Dates and tickets

Performances for Once Upon a Farm are 2 p.m. on September 14 and 15; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on September 16 and 17, and 3 p.m. on September 18.

Tickets are $30, with an option for group discounts for 13 and more. There is also a dinner theater option for the addition of a themed four-course farm-themed meal priced at $25 (plus tax and gratuity) served by Trama Catering in the ballroom of The Center for Visual and Performing Art served two hours prior to all performances, with the exception of the Saturday evening September 17 performance. All of the recipes served on the meal menu are from Potempa’s fourth published cookbook “Back From the Farm: Family Recipes and Memories of a Lifetime” (2019 Pediment Press $34.95).

Show tickets are available by calling the box office at 219-836-3255 or online at www.TheatreAtTheCenter.com. The meal option is purchased by calling Trama Catering Dining and Events at 219-836-1930. Once Upon a Farm is family-friendly and ideal for all ages. Theatre at the Center is located at 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, Indiana.

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