Summer has arrived which means it was time to answer the call of the road once more.
This time my journeys took me to the small town of Macon, MO where I would be reviewing a pair of shows for the Maples Repertory Theatre and staying at Phillips Place Bed & Breakfast. And, no, to those of you who may be remembering my misadventures in Arlington, TX, I had no difficulty finding the theatre. Everything I needed was within walking distance.
I enjoyed a rather pleasant drive through Missouri. Traffic was light and the foliage was lush. I pulled off the road in the little burg of Cameron for a bite of lunch at Wendy’s. I ate a Spicy Chicken sandwich while Ellery Queen puzzled over the murder of Abigail Doorn in The Dutch Shoe Mystery, my latest novel. After my lunch I noticed a machine that dispensed lottery tickets at the rest stop and bought tickets for Powerball and Mega Millions. Then I looked for my change and found that the machine did not dispense change. I then proceeded to buy 2 Monopoly scratch-offs and a Win It All scratch-off. I won enough money off one of the Monopoly games to offset my forced expenditures.
About 4pm, I arrived in Macon and easily found my way to Phillips Place, owned and operated by Carol Phillips. I met Carol’s assistant, Michael, and his feisty dog who led me to me to the Turner Suite, my temporary home.
Phillips Place is a rather large Classical Revival home that only has 2 rooms for rent (Turner and Rubey Suites), but they are large and comfortable. In fact, I consider the Turner Suite to be the most comfortable room I have enjoyed as my three room suite contained a bedroom with a very soft bed, a spacious bathroom, and a rather quaint sitting room.
After I took a quick turn about the place, I met Carol Phillips who brought me a glass of iced tea with a slice of lemon. Like myself, she was a big theatre buff and would also be attending the production of Of Mice and Men that I was reviewing. The next day she and a friend, Chuck Koopmann (also a theatre buff and treasurer of Maples Repertory Theatre) were going to head to the Amana Colonies to watch a performance of Million Dollar Quartet featuring some past Maples Rep performers.
After the tea and talk, I took a constitutional around the neighborhood and downtown area to find the theatre and Immaculate Conception Church where I would be attending worship services the next night. When I returned to the inn, I met Chuck who invited me to share dinner with himself and Carol.
I enjoyed a fine dinner of BBQ ribs, potatoes, salad, and some green beans. It was a lovely meal with the conversation equally so as we talked theatre, the history of Maples Rep, and my various adventures in travel and theatre.
Upon dinner’s completion, I spruced myself up for the night’s entertainment. Maples Repertory Theatre is a well hidden jewel in Missouri. It attracts theatrical talent from all over the country and they put on one terrific production. You can read my review of the show here.
On opening night, Maples Rep hosts an event called Afterglow where they serve drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and have a little cabaret production. I watched a little of the cabaret and had a conversation with Brandon McShaffrey who directed the play. Then I returned to the inn to write the review and sleep soundly through the night.
The next morning, I had breakfast with Carol and Chuck where I enjoyed biscuits basted with butter and sprinkled with brown sugar with sausage gravy, bacon, cheesy eggs, fried potatoes, milk, and orange juice and another great conversation. Afterwards I returned to my room to do a little work and grab a quick catnap as my sleep the previous night had been sound, but not long due to my being up late to write.
At noon, I settled my bill with Carol due to her leaving for the Amana colonies and I took another walk around the area. I stopped at a Rexall’s Drugstore which actually had an old-fashioned soda fountain. I ordered a vanilla ice cream soda which was delicious and then returned to the inn to get out of the heat. I spent the afternoon writing up this article and watching Lt. Columbo capturing killers.
In the late afternoon, I got dolled up for church and the show. I attended evening services at Immaculate Conception Church where the service was said by Father Kevin Gormley, a lovable Irishman, now retired, who subs for priests all over the state. As he says, now he is truly a “Roaming” Catholic.
Immaculate Conception Church
After worship had ended, I walked a few blocks up the road to the Apple Basket Café for dinner. It’s a quaint little diner and I was very tempted to indulge in the Saturday night special of a 12 oz ribeye steak. But, with the show starting in less than an hour, I opted for something that could be prepared and eaten a little more quickly. I had a turkey club sandwich on sourdough with a side of fries and a cup of chili. It filled the cavity nicely.
Feeling satiated, I returned to Maples Rep for another fantastic production. You can read my review for Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash here.
During intermission, I met Todd Davison, the artistic director for Maples Rep. I was quite shocked to learn that I was the first critic in the theatre’s 14 year history. That morning, Chuck had asked for permission to send my first review to the town’s local newspaper, so I hope my words drum up some business. This theatre is such a fine little jewel that I may send them an audition for next season.
At the show’s end I returned to Phillips Place where I wrote up the review and conked out for the night.
Breakfast was a more subdued, quiet affair this morning. Carol had prepared a frittata with cheese, eggs, spinach, and yellow peppers along with milk, orange juice, a lemon puff, and a croissant. Michael had heated up my meal and I ate a quicker meal than normal for me.
And that wraps up this article. Macon is truly a nice, friendly little town. It’s the type of town where everybody knows everybody. You’ll enter a stranger and leave as a friend. And I would make it a strong recommendation to visit this little town. You won’t find a better inn than Phillips Place in terms of comfort and hospitality and you’ll do yourself a favor by taking in a night at Maples Repertory. I guarantee it.