The two-week run of “Deadpan, the Musical,” was a smashing success that rocked the quiet, frigid village of Fort Dodge last January and February. Just check out this well-worded article by writer Parker Quail to see for yourself.

All eight shows were again sold to capacity before opening night, and proceeds from the event paved the way for Iowa Central Community College’s ENTIRE Culinary Arts Program to spend a week in Chicago at the National Restaurant Association’s annual show, which is the largest of its kind in the known universe.

The cast, composed of Sean Coughlin, Jane Bunting, Deven Kolluri, Will Schnurr, Abby Enabnit, Robin Corsberg, Mike Loots, Kate Fitzgerald, Joe Whaley, and Ben Wheeler as “Maestro,” was superbly brilliant. A stupendous performance was also given each night by the audience, which was unknowingly implicated in a scandalous murder investigation every show.

There was truly no greater a sound than that of the Il Toscana Orchestra, conducted by Ben Wheeler, which was formed of such incredible talent as Chloe Peterson, Zak Sjoberg, Francis Lee, Ben McCartney, Jack Hanson, Sean Strachan, Rob Secor, Heather Stafford, Jim Ellerston, Andrea Minikis, Stephen Kelleher, Zak Lee, Patrick Buhr and Julian Tovar. You guys truly rocked! Thanks to Iowa Central’s Director of Bands, Paul Bloomquist, for tacitly allowing me to “borrow” a lot of fun toys.

A very special thanks is due to Chef Michael Hirst and Chef Cory Dawson for their amazing work leading the Culinary Arts Team. They were a phenomenal bunch! And the food was amazing, with only one instance of nearly poisoning one of my cast members – which, for a show riddled with poison-related death – is pretty damn good in my estimation.

Thanks also to the Willow Ridge contingent led by Gabe “the Man” Kellner and Laura “Drink Maven” Webster, for all their efforts in serving our guests the libations necessary to make my jokes funny. We had a blast “testing” those drinks, too…. Or, at least, I think we did. It all gets a little fuzzy….

More thanks are due to Neale Adams, Sue Heistand, Paul DeCoursey, Jennifer Condon and Kathleen Schreier for their unrelenting help in putting the show together logistically. These people worked tirelessly behind the scenes (both before and long, long after) to ensure that every loose end was properly located, addressed, and carefully tied up.

When one of our essential props disappeared magically backstage between runs, the overly-generous Ken Walsh of Walsh Auto was there like a knight in shining armor to make us a new one (two new ones, actually [just in case! Whew!]). Thanks for your invaluable assistance in our hour of great need!

Big, big thanks also go to Kate Fitzgerald, who portrayed the Maître D’Hôtel, for also choreographing all the dance numbers and organizing the costumes. Thank you so much! Your stamp left a huge and awesome-looking mark on the entire show.

More thanks are extended to 88.1 the Point, Iowa’s New Rock Alternative, especially Bob and Louie who interviewed me so masterfully, to Joseph Whaley and the Whaley Family Armory and Museum for the relics he graciously allowed us to play with (and, to lesser extent, for playing the role of Porter), to Annette St. Peter for building two very lovely dresses for the show, and to Laura McBride, of the very creatively named Laura McBride Photography, for taking pictures and filming the whole damn thing.

Finally, the ultimate thanks are given to two of my favorite ladies, Ann Smeltzer and Catherine Vincent Deardorf, whose dual legacies have encouraged me to create artistic opportunities for myself and others.

Thanks to everyone for such a great show and, now, fantastic memories. I am indebted to you all more than you’ll ever know.

And for kicks, here’s a sweet remix of one of the songs from the show, “The Arrow Amor (Komorebi Remix),” done by my brother, Mike Kelleher. Enjoy!