ILWACO - A long time ago - the early '00s - in a land far, far away - some kingdom in the middle of nowhere - lived a king (Michael Veland) who'd had enough of his royal duties. In his infinite wisdom he tossed his scepter to the air proclaiming that whomever caught it would succeed him as the king. However, he didn't plan for this.

"The Bachelor King," a comedy presented in two acts is being performed now by the Ilwaco High School Drama Club through this weekend. It is their only show of the year.

Through fortune - or perhaps misfortune - the king's staff came to rest in the hands of a local yokel, actually named Yokel (Marshall Powell). The country bumpkin who's never seen a pig he didn't like is now ruling the kingdom.

"He's like this hillbilly-type guy. He's kind of slow," said Powell, who added that he enjoys playing a comedic role like this one. "I like being funny, I do it at school - only when I'm allowed to..." Powell said the mindset he put himself in for the role is something along the lines of "what would you do if you had no idea what was going on all the time?"

And though adapting to indoor plumbing is one challenge, it's nothing compared to what else he's in store for.

Just as soon as he's taken over he's taken for a ride, figuratively, by Frederick Pilfer, played by Scott Clardy, the royal bookkeeper who immediately starts giving himself endless raises.

"With identity theft running rampant you never know when someone will try and take the royal money," he tells the unsuspecting king who asks him where he will keep it. "In a safe place where no one can trace it, I mean, find it."

His life is put in jeopardy by Prince Daft, played by Carson Fox - dressed in a track suit and looking like a mobster from the Sopranos - and his slick sidekick who dramatically pulls off his sunglasses when making a point, played by Owen Sutherland. But when Pilfer decides to hold a talent contest to decide which eligible maiden will be his queen, it really gets interesting.

Inspired by American Idol, the show is judged by Idol wannabe's Simon Towel, played with appropriately biting sarcasm by Elliot Marcus and ever-positive Paula O'Toole (Amy Veland).

"He has the highest standards of like any person on the face of the planet," said Marcus of the Towel character, which is based on the real-life Simon Cowell. "Nobody lives up to his expectations and he just gives everybody a bad score."

The five bachelorettes played by Madeline Dickerson, Hannah Whitlow, Alexis Ferguson, Annika Wolters and Krissy Toivonen go through a variety of song and dance routines (some more serious than others) which are voted on by the judges. Wolters plays a tough girl from New York named "Kickin'" Kanisha.

"She's a little bit on the gangsta side. Everybody's kind of afraid of her, and she likes it that way," she said.

After one performer attempts a Mozart opera, Towel says, "That has got to be the worst performance I have ever heard. It's a good thing Mozart is dead, because if he heard you sing he surely would have shot you. Or perhaps he would have shot himself. Either way, I give you a three."

In the end, Yokel finds that the contest did little to sway his opinion on which woman he liked best and a visit from a friendly spirit with sage advice about following his own yellow brick road puts him on the right track to a royal right-of-way.

"I think the show is really funny," said director Kelly Jacobsen. "It's a bit of a stereotype on different characters. It pokes fun at the idea of choosing the very best and eliminating people that aren't good and looking for qualities beyond all of that."

"The Bachelor King" will be performed Thursday, Feb. 8 through Saturday Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. and Sunday Feb. 11 at 1 p.m. in the Ilwaco High School choir room. Tickets for the performance are $8 for adults and $5 for students and seniors and are available at the door. Early arrival is suggested however, as there is limited seating.

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