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Published: 12/3/2008

Colorful characters grace 'Don't Hug Me'

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Mistaken identities, making do, and the merits of karaoke are themes of productions to be presented this week by community theaters.

In Bryan, the Williams County Community Theatre opens Don t Hug Me, a musical comedy by brothers Paul and Phil Olson.

Set in a rustic bar in tiny Bunyan Bay, Minn., the play is a comical look at some of the town s colorful residents, who bear more than a passing resemblance to Garrison Keillor s residents of Lake Wobegon.

There s cantankerous barkeep Gunner Johnson (Mike Roberts), who is tired of the bone-numbing cold and wants to move to Florida. His wife, Clara (Mary Beth Snider), is perfectly happy in Bunyan Bay, where she can bask in the memories of once being the Winter Carnival Bunyan Queen. Waitress Bernice Lundstrom (Shelley Scantlen) dreams of a singing career, but her fianc , the self-important supply-store owner Kanute Gunderson (Keith Robinson), wants a stay-at-home wife.

When a fast-talking karaoke-machine salesman, Aarvid Gisselsen (Denver Henderson), comes to town, the fun begins.

Songs in the production, directed by Zach McAfee and Crystal Bowers, include I m a Walleye Woman in a Crappie Town, The Ice House Blues, and He Wore a Purple Tux.

Williams County Community Theatre presents Don t Hug Me at 8 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, and Dec. 11-13, with matinees at 2:30 p.m. Sunday and Dec. 14 in the Little Theater, 208 West Butler St., Bryan. Tickets are $12 for adults, $11 for seniors, and $9 for students. Information: 888-569-9228.

Children s Theatre Workshop presents The Prince and the Pauper this weekend.

Based on the 1881 novel by Mark Twain, it s the story of two boys: Tom Canty, the youngest son of a family of beggars, and Prince Edward, the only son of King Henry VIII.

The boys look exactly alike, which fascinates the young prince, who spots the beggar outside the palace gate and surreptitiously invites him inside. They exchange clothing and pretend to be each other, a game that lands Edward outside the palace and Tom inside, where each must learn to negotiate the unfamiliar milieu until they can swap roles again.

Because so many children auditioned for the play, two different casts have been assembled. The role of Prince Edward will be shared by Caity Hoffman, 9, and Erin Momany, 13. Tom Canty will be played by Ellie Scott, 11, and Hadley Williams, 12.

The entire show, from cast to crew to other technical support, is handled by CTW students representing communities such as Toledo, Sylvania, Maumee, Northwood, Holland, and Bowling Green.

The Prince and the Pauper is scheduled at 1 and 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in the Chapel Theater of the Collingwood Arts Center, 2413 Collingwood Blvd. Tickets are $7 for adults and $4.50 for students and seniors. Information: 419-244-5061.

The Monroe Community Players offers lessons in facing adversity with smiles when it presents Louisa May Alcott s Little Women this weekend.

Directed by Lonny Aldridge, the play is set during the Civil War, when Mrs. March and her four daughters try to get by with little money while their husband and father is serving as a minister in the Union Army.

The cast includes Jill St. Pierre-Gagnon as Mrs. March, D-Ann Johnson as Meg, Kristin Adams-Bondy as Jo, Jaclyn Finola as Beth, and Katie Durocher as Amy. Also in the cast are Patrick Bondy, Brad Bowman, Kathleen Bressler, Gary Jenkins, Betty Martell, and Norb Nowak.

Little Women runs at 8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in Meyer Theatre of the La-Z-Boy Center at Monroe County Community College, 1555 South Raisinville Rd., Monroe. Tickets are $15, with senior and student discounts available. Information: 734-241-7900.

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



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