Memories of vacation; Summerset Theatre presents ‘Leaving Iowa’

Published 8:14 am Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Summerset Theatre Season 51 continues with the production of the road-trip comedy “Leaving Iowa,” opening at 7 p.m. tonight at the Frank W. Bridges Theatre at Riverland Community College.

The play, written by Tim Clue and Spike Manton, focuses on Don Browning, a middle-aged writer who returns home and decides to finally take his father’s ashes to his childhood home, as requested.

But when Don discovers grandma’s house is now a grocery store, he begins traveling across Iowa in search of a proper resting place. As he drives those familiar roads, the story shifts back and forth from the present to memories of the annual, torturous vacations of Don’s youth. Ultimately, Don’s existential journey leads him to reconcile his past and present at an unpredictable and perfect final destination.

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Jake Gustine, a veteran of Riverland and Summerset Theatres since 2006, will be making his directorial debut.

Karen Rask Behling reaches for the map held by Richard Carlson during rehearsal.

“When they made the (Season 51) line-up last year, they asked for new directors,” Gustine said. “Since I had done work with the theatre before, it seemed like a good opportunity for me. ‘Leaving Iowa’ seemed liked a good fit and a good time for me to step up and try a new thing.”

Show times for “Leaving Iowa” are 7 p.m. July 11-14 and 2 p.m. on July 15. All performances will be at the Frank W. Bridges Theatre at Riverland Community College.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. Tickets can be purchased at, at the Riverland Theatre Box Office from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday or one hour prior to show time at the theatre.

“’Leaving Iowa’ is a really great representation of the Midwest,” Gustine said. “I think people will connect to it and folks around here will relate to the content of the show. It’s not so much about loss, but gaining some knowledge, like some of your bad childhood memories could turn out to be good life lessons for you.”

“We really appreciate everyone who comes out and has supported Summerset through all these years,” he added.

The cast of “Leaving Iowa” kicks off the Summerset Show during reheasal Tuesday night at Frank W. Bridges Theatre. Eric Johnson/


Dad – Richard Carlson

Mom – Karen Rask Behling

Don Browning – Brad Herr

Sis – Kayla Byram

The Players – Robert Johnson, Kari Lynn Cook, David Rask Behling, Kim Potter

Production Staff and Crew

Director – Jake Gustine

Stage Manager – Andrew Roskos

Technical Director – John Deyo

Costume Design – Madlain Vander

Scenic/Sound/Lighting Design – John Deyo

Sound Board Operator – Ian Gearhart

Light Board Operator – Madeline El-Baroudi

Set Construction – Madeline El-Baroudi, Ian Gearhart, Andrew Roskos

Graphic Design – BJ Witts

Box Office – Madeline El-Baroudi, Ian Gearhart, Carrie Braaten, Lindsey Duoos Williams