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Actress recalls 'Wisecracks from My Father'

PLAINVIEW -- Actress Leslye Orr returns to Plainview, bringing her memories of her father and life in the 1930s, '40s and '50s to the stage with "Wisecracks From My Father."

The show, which will be performed at 8 p.m. Aug. 14 and 15, is part of the Summer Samper at the Jon Hassler Theater.

Orr, an actress who lives in St. Paul, put the show together as a tribute to her father, Dr. R.T. Orr of Sioux Falls, S.D.

"He used to tell wonderful, highly entertaining after-dinner stories -- stories that came out of his childhood in the Great Depression, of his military service in World War II, and of his years as an OB-GYN in Sioux Falls, during which time he delivered 10,000 babies while helping to raise eight children of his own," she remembered.

"Anyone who lived during that era can identify with this show," she added.

Her father, now 85, is retired and lives in Phoenix, Ariz. Recently, knowing that his memory was fading, Orr decided to create a stage show as a way of preserving his memories for a new generation. Using an inexpensive tape recorder, she taped her father's stories via telephone.

She began performing "Wisecracks From My Father" during the past year in Minnesota and in South Dakota in front of many of the people who knew Dr. Orr during his time there, and people he helped bring into the world.

Reaction to the show has gone beyond laughter, Orr said. She has found that there is also a great deal of serious listening. So after each show, she invites members of the audience to join in and tell their own stories from that same era.

What comes out of these sessions is often just as funny and poignant as the stories she has just presented on stage, Hassler officials said.

What she's doing is adding to the oral history of the Greatest Generation, said Carter Martin, the Hassler's general manager. "As more and more members of that generation pass from the scene, the work of preserving their memories takes on greater urgency. Leslye's doing a great service with this show."

Tickets are $14. Call the theater at (507) 534-2900 or go to the Web site