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Published: Wednesday, 11/12/2008

'Arabian Nights' tells timeless tales

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The setting may be ancient Persia, but the truths are universal.

That s Irene Alby, talking about Arabian Nights, which she is directing for the University of Toledo s department of theater and film.

Opening tomorrow, the production is based on the classic tale of Scheherezade, a woman who delays death for 1,001 nights by telling her husband, King Shahryar, a different story each night for three years.

Adapted by Mary Zimmerman, the play is beautifully written, said Alby, a lecturer in theater at UT. The early stories are fun and farcical to catch and hold the interest of Shahryar, but Scheherezade slowly changes her tales to begin teaching Shahryar lessons about life, things from which he may have been shielded by his royal position.

The stories help Shahryar travel from ego to wisdom. He goes from believing he s the center of the universe to realizing that he s just a small part of the cosmos and that there s worth in all people, even the ones he believes have betrayed him, Alby said.

For the UT production, Katie Rediger is Scheherezade, Ernest Green is Shahryar, Margaret Lute is Dunyazade, Katie Litzer is Perfect Love, Betsy Yeary is Sympathy the Learned, Gordon James is Harun Al-Rashid, and Mark Schriefer is the madman.

The ensemble comprises Elizabeth Beaudrie, Keelon Featherstone, Jo Ellen Jacob, Briana Rawls, Tyree Troutman, and Courtney Uckele.

Arabian Nights is entertainment for a wide range of ages, Alby said, including children as long as their parents are comfortable with a few stylized, bawdy sex scenes that are more funny than steamy.

The UT department of theater and film will open the play tomorrow in the Center for Performing Arts. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday through Nov. 23. Tickets are $13 for adults, $11 for UT employees, alumni, and seniors, and $9 for students. A dinner theater option, $40 a person, is available Saturday. Information: 419-530-2375 or utoledo.edu.

The Geritol Follies is returning to the Stranahan Theater.

Based in Hamilton, Ont., the troupe, featuring more than 90 performers over the age of 60, has been delighting audiences for more than three decades. For the last 20 years, it has also presented a Christmas variety show, and that s the one coming to the Stranahan.

The Follies, which got its start in 1972 when Christina Hamilton created a variety show out of a senior citizens recreational choir, is based on the premise that age presents no barrier. Hamilton acted as emcee for the show, which has toured the United States, Canada, and even Scotland s Edinburgh Festival, until 2001, when Marion Dale took over.

The Geritol Follies is scheduled at 2 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday in the Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd. Tickets are $15 and $30 from the box office. Information: 419-381-8851.

Genoa Civic Theatre is presenting an all-Christmas list of productions this season, opening tomorrow with Fruitcakes by Julian Wiles. The plot of the gentle comedy revolves around a young runaway named Jamie, whose money runs out in the small town of McCord s Ferry where the inhabitants are, to Jamie s mind, nuttier than fruitcakes.

Directed by Donna Wollenslegel, the cast comprises Samuel Wilburn as Jamie, Pete Lowry as Mack Morgan, Ronnie Tanner as Beebo Dantzler, Trina Woolridge as Betty Jane Dantzler, Kris Krotzer as Little Beebo, Aubrey Fleming as Sally, Lynn Hartley and Sheryl Allan as, respectively, Miss Sara and Miss Alice, Joe Angelone as Skeeter, and Deb Wallace as Mattie Sue.

Performances will be at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 23 in the theater at 509 Main St., Genoa. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and students. Information: 419-855-3103 or genoacivictheatre.org.

Defiance College s DC Players opens Fiddler on the Roof tonight in Schomburg Auditorium on the campus about 50 miles west of Toledo. Based on the stories of Sholom Aleichem, the Tony Award-winning musical is set in czarist Russia, where Tevye, a poor milkman, is trying to marry off several daughters. Songs made popular by the show include If I Were a Rich Man, Sunrise, Sunset, and Matchmaker.

Performances will be at 8 p.m. today-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Defiance College. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students. Information: 419-783-2462 or defiance.edu.

The Velveteen Rabbit will come to life Tuesday in the Franciscan Theatre & Conference Center of Lourdes College. The show, part of the college s Theater Vision program, is about a plush toy that yearns to be loved so much it earns the gift of life.

Enchantment Theatre Company, a professional troupe from Philadelphia, uses a combination of life-sized puppets, masks, and innovative costuming, as well as a musical score from Don Sebesky, a Tony, Emmy, and Grammy-winning composer and arranger, to present Margery Williams classic tale. The Theater Vision series is aimed at school field trips, but the public is welcome to attend if space is available. The Velveteen Rabbit is geared to youngsters in grades 1-5.

Tickets are $8 for performances at 10 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. Tuesday in the center at 6832 Convent Blvd., Sylvania. Information: 419-824-3986 or franciscancenter.org

The Ritz Teen Thespian Guild presents its inaugural production: a modern version of William Shakespeare s A Midsummer Night s Dream. More than 40 students from nine high schools and home schooling in the Tiffin area will work onstage and behind the scenes during performances at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the Ritz Theatre, 30 South Washington St., Tiffin.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. Information: 419-448-8544, 800-586-7382 or ritztheatre.org.

Contact Nanciann Cherry at: ncherry@theblade.com or 419-724-6130.



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