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Performers take stage as forbears

From left: Denny Wells, Mallory Chauncey, (front) Harper Archambault and Julia Archambault, and Shelly Neri.“I was about to step on stage in my seersucker suit and I had to stop for a second. I thought, ‘I’m about to play my grandfather.’”

Denny Wells, who plays City Manager Frank Wells in the Baker County High drama and Baker County Community Theatre production of Baker County, Fla.: 1861-1961, was one of several performers with personal connections to the people in the play.

When he was asked to portray his grandfather, who had a big hand in helping stop moonshining in Baker County, he paused for a moment before saying, “You can’t imagine what an honor this is.” He then went out and bought a seersucker suit, which was his grandfather’s signature apparel.

For Mr. Wells, playing the role has been like channeling his grandfather. The two were extremely close and he remembers seeing his grandfather in the self-same suit. Others also remember it fondly.

Wells was leaning against the front of the stage after the sold out performance January 13 and a passing audience member commented, “I saw your grandfather dressed like that many a day.”

Shelly Neri had a similar experience playing her grandmother, Fay Milton. When she donned a short brunette wig to play the role she was amazed by what looked back at her in the mirror.

“I never thought I looked at all like my grandmother until I put on that wig,” she said. Her aunt, Fay Milton Sinclair, agreed. “Watching her on stage was the first time I ever saw my mother in her. But there she was,” the aunt said.

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