Posted Online: Nov. 07, 2012, 11:58 am

Playcrafters actor performs on stage, in pulpit

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By Jonathan Turner,

Playcrafters' new production of "The Christmas Express" features (from left) Don Hazen, Nancy Teerlinck, Sara Laufer, and Dave Bailey.
Every Sunday, the Rev. Dave Bailey puts on a performance of sorts by leading worship at Calvary Evangelical Church in Hooppole. The good-natured 57-year-old -- a minister for 35 years -- also enjoys performing at area theaters.

Since 2006, soon after he moved to the Quad-Cities from suburban Philadelphia, Mr. Bailey has been in shows at Richmond Hill Players, Quad-City Music Guild and Playcrafters Barn Theatre. At the Moline barn this weekend, he opens in a lead role in the family-friendly comedy "The Christmas Express."

"It's a very good family play, a great cast," said Mr. Bailey, who plays Leo Tannenbaum. "I relate my character to Clarence from 'It's a Wonderful Life.' He's a messenger of hope."

In the Pat Cook play -- one of 19 holiday shows he's penned and 145 altogether, including "If It's Monday, This Must Be Murder," done in March at Playcrafters --Hilda (played by Nancy Teerlinck) dreams of faraway places but only finds tedium in running the Holly Railway Station. That is, until Leo Tannenbaum drops in out of nowhere the day before Christmas Eve.

Set in the 1950s, the play presents a nostalgic theatrical greeting card that is full of eccentric small-town characters who wisecrack their way to finding the true wonder of Christmas.

"There's some quirkiness to the characters, very much an ensemble piece," first-time director John Weigandt said of the 10-member cast."It's been an amazingly smooth ride. Everybody who got cast has done (theater) before, and that makes it lot easier for me, to be working with. They're professional amateurs."

"We're having a lot of fun with this," he said. "It's a story that has a lot of really funny moments, and moments when you get a little teary, too."

Both Mr. Weigandt, a Moline veterinarian by day, and his wife, Jaci, and Mr. Bailey and his wife, Sandy, have done several shows together (with the women mainly working on the crew), and it's true again here. In fact, Mr. Bailey -- who before moving here had just done biblical theater -- met his wife putting on the Richmond Hill show "A Bad Year for Tomatoes," in 2006.

Mrs. Bailey, a widow, had been married 20 years and hassix children and 12 grandchildren. Mr. Bailey was married 25 years and has three children and two grandchildren. He and Sandy got engaged last Christmas and married this year.

Mr. Bailey's other stage credits include "Any Famous Last Words" (2008) and "The Curious Savage" (2012) at Richmond Hill; "Wonderful Life," "Nuncrackers," "Miracle on 34th Street" and "All Shook Up" at Music Guild; and "Promises, Promises" at Playcrafters. He also was assistant director for the Guild's "Babes in Toyland," another holiday show.

Because of his lead role at church in Hooppole (a 45-mile commute to Moline), Mr. Bailey said he's very careful about what shows he auditions for in the Quad-Cities. "The church people are very supportive of my interest in theater," he said.

Mr. Weigandt, who works atRiver Bend Animal Clinic across from Wilson Junior High, had the lead role in Playcrafters' 2009 Christmas story, "Papa's Angels," and his other credits include "Cinderella" and "Seussical" at Music Guild and "Treasure Island" at Playcrafters. He's worked on set, sound and props for other shows between the two Moline venues.

"The Christmas Express" is Mr. Weigandt's full set design, and he said he's proud of the train station set. He said he enjoys being both on stage and behind the scenes. He and Sara Laufer, who's also in "Christmas Express," were in charge of the 200-plus sound effects for the Hitchcock spoof "The 39 Steps" at Playcrafters in September.

In addition to Ms. Laufer, "The Christmas Express" cast includes BillPeiffer, Don Hazen and Donna Weeks of Moline; Lisa Kahn of Milan; Nicholas Waldbusser of Hampton; Carli Talbott of Geneseo; and Liz Paxton of Port Byron.

If you go

-- What: "The Christmas Express."
-- When: Friday through Sunday and Nov. 16-18. All performances at 7:30 p.m., except 3 p.m. on Sundays.
-- Where: Playcrafters Barn Theatre, 4950 35th Ave., Moline.
-- Tickets: $10. Call (309) 762-0330 or