A Valentine’s Community Cabaret will be playing three nights this week in the recently reopened Fortney Underground performance space at 104 N. Main St. in downtown Viroqua. The Congo Players of the Underwater Church of Gays Mills is hosting this return of a new romantic revue, after a hiatus of several years, as their second show in this intimate theatre and their valentine to and by the community. Performances are Thursday through Saturday evenings, Feb. 14-16, 7:30 p.m. A freewill donation is being asked for admission and concessions. The event is not aimed at the whole family, but adult romance is, of course, not guaranteed.

“A cabaret is an offering to the community to participate, both as a performer or as an audience member,” said K O’Brien, Congo Players director. “We want to build our skills and give a platform for others to test out their voice. Art is therapeutic, participation makes us all stronger.” Stepping up are various voluntary performers to present songs, readings, music or skits ranging from the lovingly serious to irreverently humorous, which may vary each night. Lighting designer is Chris Cox. “We’re pleased to mount this winter’s version of a Valentine’s Day production, as was in the past in this very space, which is well suited to it,” said Craig Anderson, a member of the troupe of about a dozen other players.

Anderson said that the show verges on being a veritable vortex of variety for those who cast their reservations (none needed) to the wind chill and venture out for an infectious occasion. “We’re not quite viral yet, but no matter what your relationship to Love, make a date to visit, show up and we’ll show you ours, and leave you the warmer for it. After all, that wonderful word ‘amateur’ derives from the Latin ‘to love’, but that doesn’t mean amateurish.”

The Players formed last winter and get their name from the fact that their original home at the historic former Congregational Church building in Gays Mills was submerged and wrecked in last August’s record flood. There they produced, learning by doing, the 10-episode original radio play “Onomatopoeia” broadcast on WDRT-Viroqua in the fall of 2018. It can now be found on the archive page of wdrt.com under “The Congo Players.” In January, they revived the dormant Fortney Underground with a readers theatre adaptation of four literary works by Kurt Vonnegut – “You Have Got To Hear This!” They will be bringing further live performances to the space and produce future installments of “Onomatopoeia” for radio.

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