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Big Apple to Brookings to ...

Posted: Tuesday, Mar 16th, 2010

At a rehearsal last week, Louis Quinones (as Fred Narracott) looks exhausted after shuttling guests and supplies, by boat, to the island.

He's the professional actor from the Great White Way; she's the amateur, but every bit as comfortable in the theater as her husband.

Louis Quinones and his wife Kathryn Quinones are at home in Brookings for now. Soon, they'll go back to their New York City digs, after their stint with Brookings Community Theatre (BCT) in a whodunnit by mystery writer Agatha Christie.

"And Then There Were None," which starts here Thursday, is set in a country house on an island off the coast of Devon, England. To even hint what happens after eight guests, all unknown to one another, gather for a weekend at the invitation of a noshow host, might spoil the suspense. Enough said.

Louis plays Fred Narracott, handyman and errand runner who operates a boat that shuttles guests and supplies to and from the island. It's a small part, and just what Louis wanted.

Kathryn plays Emily Brent, a selfrighteous spinster. "It kind of scares me that I understand her," Kathryn said. "She's the kind of a person who uses morality and religion as a weapon. She's just a very kind of uptight, very angry woman who keeps it all pent up. She's mean."

The guests come to the island to play out their roles; Louis and Kathryn came to Brookings from New York and found their roles in the play. Back to Brookings, then back to "

Louis is, according to Kathryn, "a Bronx boy, all the way through." She, however, is a "sort of" native of Brookings.

Her parents are from Tyndall; she was born in Yankton.

Her father, the late Lt. Col."Vic " Cole, was a career Air Force officer who retired in Brookings after his final tour of duty as head of the Air Force ROTC detachment at South Dakota State University. He later taught at the middle school for about 15 years. Her mother, Rachel Cole, still lives in Brookings.

Kathryn spent her junior and senior years at Brookings High School and then attended SDSU. She graduated in 1964 with a bachelor's degree in speech and theater. Following that, she taught school in Nebraska for a year before moving back to South Dakota, to Vermillion. There, in 1967, she earned a master's degree in speech and theater at the University of South Dakota.

After that, she signed on with the Peace Corps and was sent to New York for training before being posted to Uganda. "Once I got to New York, that was it," Kathryn says. "I knew where I'd found my home." After her stint in Africa, she returned to New York "forever ." Almost.

Trips to and from Brookings lay ahead. 'An actor's greatest asset'

After he left the Army in 1954, Louis worked as a professional actor in New York. Like most other stage pros, he also had other real-life roles longshoreman , cab driver.

While Kathryn loved the theater, she didn't work as a professional actress.

"Somebody says the greatest asset an actor can have is a working wife," she explains with a smile.

She taught "English as a second language," adding, "That's what I was trained for in the Peace Corps." Following her father's death a couple years back, her mother needed help, so Kathryn and Louis started dividing their time between Brookings and the Big Apple.

She explained, "We've been spending four months here, four months in New York, four months here, four months in New York."

By happenstance, their stays in Brookings coincided with the BCT schedule.

"We seem to hit the show right here," she said. "So I was in 'Harvey .' I was a snooty society lady. It was a little part, and that was fun." For a summer presentation of "Beauty and the Beast," she and Louis "were kind of background; we just kind of were there."

They came back to Brookings around Thanksgiving last year and have been here since; they happened to be around when the casting call went out for the Christie mystery.

Louis explained, "My wife wanted to do a part, so I drove her there. And they needed people . Somebody said, 'Why don't you read.'" He did; he wanted and got a part "with as few lines as possible." Kathryn said, "We tried out for this show, and they were nice enough to cast us. I think they were looking for new faces." Maybe, but she and her husband brought recent acting experience to their roles, having been part of a community theater in Brooklyn.

Right after this play is over, they'll pack up and head back to New York "go to the dentist, clean our house, and call up our friends," Kathryn said.

She added, "Most of our friends go south in the winter; we go north."

Contact John Kubal at jkubal@brookingsregister .com.

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