SPRING VALLEY, MN (Globe Gazette) — Auditions are under way for a two-act play concerning the 1995 disappearance of KIMT-TV anchor Jodi Huisentruit.
The play, called “Fade to Black” was written by Gary Peterson and adapted for the theater by playwright Debi Neville.
Peterson is a former news director at KAAL-TV in Austin, who has done extensive research on the Huisentruit disappearance. He created the FindJodi.com website in 2003 as a digital storehouse of information on the case.
Neville said she has no connection with the Huisentruit case but is a friend of Peterson and agreed to take his work and create a play.
She is also involved with the Brave Community Theater in Spring Valley and convinced its board to put on the play.
Huisentruit, a morning anchor at KIMT-TV in Mason City, was reported missing when she did not show up for work early June 27, 1995. Evidence at her apartment has led authorities to believe she was abducted, and her disappearance remains a mystery today.
Neville said Monday one of the challenges of doing a play on such a serious topic is the public concept that plays are light entertainment.
“We talked about that before the community theater board agreed to do it,” said Neville.
“We think this is a good mystery story. It is mesmerizing because it is true and because we don’t have all the answers.”
The play is similar to a documentary in that it includes video clips and photographs to augment the dialogue.
“At the end of the play we’re going to have a question-and-answer session with the audience, which is a little unusual.”
The play is to be presented June 27, the 17th anniversary of Huisentruit’s disappearance, through June 30 at the community theater.
Spring Valley is about 30 miles south of Rochester.
Auditions were held Monday and will be held again tonight for 18-20 parts. “There will be multiple roles so we only need eight to 10 performers,” said Neville.
She said she has been approached about the idea of the play being performed in other cities but isn’t sure that can be worked out.
“The local cast is probably not going to want to travel and I’m not sure we want to go through auditions in every city,” she said.
But she did not rule out the idea of bringing the play to Mason City.
Neville said the Huisentruit family knows about the play.
“Gary contacted Jodi’s sister JoAnn (Nathe) and got her approval,” she said.