The Curious Savage: A message for our times

Port Polson Players deliver the classic comedy April 22-May 1

On Stage

Port Polson Players in association with Mission Valley Friends of the Arts open their 47th year with John Patrick’s classic comedy, “The Curious Savage,” April 22-May 1 at the Theatre on the Lake in Polson.

Mrs. Savage (Erika Jennison) with her bear in “The Curious Savage.”
Mrs. Savage (Erika Jennison) with her bear in “The Curious Savage.”

Originally written in the 1950s, this clever and timely play tells the story of Ethel P. Savage, an elderly woman whose husband recently died and left her ten million dollars. The kindness and loyalty of psychiatric patients contrasts with the avarice and vanity of “respectable” public figures in this funny and poignant examination of human nature. The play parodies Ethel’s greedy offspring to comic perfection, right up to the surprise twist ending.

The play delivers “a simple message that will warm hearts with humor, yet remind us all of what is truly important,” says director Karen Lewing.

The Players last produced “The Curious Savage” two decades ago and three of the cast members in this performance were in the original show. Shellie Winebrenner is reprising Lily Belle Savage (one of Mrs. Savage’s money-grubbing stepchildren); and two return as patients of The Cloisters – an up-scale sanatorium for mentally ill “guests”: K.C. Sorenson is back as Hannibal, and Cindy Sorenson returns as Fairy May.

Lewing notes that all 11 cast members are veteran Port Polson Players who “jumped at the chance” to perform in this show. “The heartfelt message, although delivered with humor, illustrates the fact that money, bought power, and self-focused control historically is an evil that repeats again and again,” she says. “Just look at Vladimir Putin and his Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

Playwright John Patrick clearly had this contrast in mind. At the front of the script he notes that it’s important for “the gentle inmates of The Cloisters to be played with warmth and dignity. Their home is not an asylum nor are these good people lunatics. Any exaggeration of the roles will rob them of charm and humor. The whole point of the play is to contrast them with Mrs. Savage’s children and the insane outside world.”

Curtain times for “The Curious Savage” are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, April 22-May 1. For reservations and information, call the Port Polson Players box office at 406-883-9212 or go to