The weather, anything but typical, could not have been worse for Benton Consolidated High School's weekend performances of "Li'l Abner."
Students and directors Ryan Patrick and Gretchen Bennett worked on the production all semester. The skies were already threatening Friday evening, opening night. Saturday's flooding issues around the region drew attention away from the show, but it didn't stop an audience from piling into the Benton Civic Center.
The closing performance Sunday should have been a piece of cake, except that cast and crew arrived to find the orchestra pit full of water. Fans and brooms were definitely necessary, as crews stepped in to dry it out in time for the 4 p.m. performance.
Patrick, who had previously played the role of "Marryin' Sam" in a John A. Logan College production of the show, said in a Facebook post that "this experience was a roller coaster ride, but -- in the end -- the cast and crew pulled it all together and put on one heckuva show."
Patrick said the show was not one the kids wanted to do.
"Most of them had never even heard of it." That changed, though, as rehearsals progressed throughout the semester.
Baili Diefenbach, who played two roles, a socialite and "Mayor Dawgmeat," posted on Bennett's Facebook page, "I definitely did not know nor want to do Lil Abner 6 months ago. Now I can wholeheartedly say this was one of the best shows I have been in."
As for Patrick, his "back aches, my feet hurt, and I unlocked a new level of exhaustion … but I wouldn't trade it for the world."