The interpreter of Geneseo resumes his habits in Richmond Hill

Geneseo’s Carol Neuleib is thrilled to finally be back to her old ways – in more ways than one – on stage in Richmond Hill Players’ new production.

She plays a wine-loving nun in the RHP 2022 season opener, in Tom Smith’s comedic farce “Drinking Habits.” The show will run Thursday through Sunday, March 31 through April 10, at the Barn Theater in Geneseo’s Richmond Hill Park.

In the silly story, two nuns from the Sisters of Perpetual Sewing have secretly made wine to keep the convent doors open, but Paul and Sally, reporters and former fiancées, are hot on their trail. They go undercover as a nun and a priest, but their presence, combined with the addition of a new nun, spur paranoia throughout the convent that spies have been sent from Rome to shut them down. Wine and secrets are inevitably spilled as everyone tries to preserve the convent and reconnect with lost loves.

A double proposal in the room features Tom Akers, left, Elizabeth Shaffer, Dana Skiles and Justin Raver.

Neuleib said this week that the last show she did in Richmond Hill was in 2003, in “Bertha, The Beautiful Typewriter Girl.” The “Drinking Habits” cast includes Dana Skiles (Geneseo); Terri Nelson (Lynn Center); Tom Akers (Cambridge); Justin Raver (Kewanee); Elizabeth Shaffer (Moline); Julie Gray (Hillsdale); and David Beeson (Davenport).

Neuleib has performed with RHP since the 80s and Music Guild since the 90s, where she also plays flute in the orchestra. She has no preference for straight plays over musicals.

“I really like everything,” Neuleib said. About the new show, she said, “I really appreciate the cast. It’s a great cast, we get along very well and Mike Skiles does a great job directing.

“I love being in the round,” she said of Richmond Hill’s comfortable capacity of 160, with the audience on all four sides of the stage. “I think it’s a more intimate concept, so you can feel the audience and the involvement and everything while you’re there. With a musical it’s a bit different because you have the orchestra pit between you and the audience. And besides, it’s such a huge stage, you walk out and feel a little smaller on stage.

“But I love Richmond Hill, the privacy of it,” she said.

Experienced flautist and conductor

Neuleib played principal flute for the Knox-Galesburg Symphony Orchestra for 25 years, before retiring in 2018, and served as choir director at First Congregational Church in Geneseo for 43 years. His full-time job, for four decades, was as a financial advisor at LPL Financial in Geneseo.

In “Drinking Habits”, she plays one of the nuns, Sister Augusta, and her partner in crime is Sister Philomena. They make wine to sell it to the inhabitants, in order to be able to operate the convent, without the knowledge of the Mother Superior.

Neuleib has described his character as somewhat overbearing.

“She kind of leads Philomena, but I think she’s tied to her religious beliefs and everything, and that’s up to them,” she said. “It’s just such a fun show.”

David Beeson and Elizabeth Shaffer in “Drinking Habits” at Richmond Hill in Geneseo.

A 2017 review on BroadwayWorld.com called it “a door-slamming prank that will have you laughing for the full two hours of operation. While DRINKING HABITS isn’t great literature, it certainly proves to be very entertaining.” The laughs flow throughout the evening like the sisters’ wine,” the reviewer said.

Mike Skiles (Geneseo) leads RHP production. Staff include stage manager Bradyn Jaeger (Annawan), set builder Jim Skiles and set painter Marie Skiles (Colona), lighting and sound designer/operator Jennifer Kingry, costume designer Ann Keeney-Grafft and specialty painter Dana Skiles (Geneseo).

Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. Sundays are matinees at 3 p.m. and doors open at 2 p.m. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling the Richmond Hill. box office at 309-944-2244 or by visiting rhplayers.com.

Late seats are not permitted; no one will be admitted to the theater after the show has started. Admission to all performances is $12.

An audio description performance will take place on Friday April 1st. Richmond Hill also offers assistive listening devices, which can be requested at time of booking.

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