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The first thing director Kirby Wahl wants potential audiences to know is: It's a comedy, people.
"I can see the look of panic come over their faces when I tell people I'm directing The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), he said from his office at the University of Toledo, where he is an assistant professor of theater.
He has to explain that the show takes nothing seriously, not the audience, not the cast, and certainly not Shakespeare.
It may help to know that when Complete Works made its debut at the Edinburgh Festival in 1987, one critic described it as a "whoopie cushion with legs."
Wahl and his cast hope to maintain that spirit of fun, although he has made a few changes.
"The show was originally written for three males, but I decided to go with my gut about who seemed to bring energy and an intuitive sense of comedic timing [to the auditions]."
One of those he's referring to is UT student Abby Youngs of North Olmsted, Ohio, who is definitely not male.
"What I did for Abby is that I rewrote some of the text to explain how she became a member of the cast," he said. From there he just kept tweaking the script to play to the strengths of his other cast members, UT students Seth Shaffer of Wauseon and David Corris of Elyria and local actor Grant Walker.
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As the show, originally written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield, winds its way through Shakepeare's 11 tragedies, 7 histories, 16 comedies, and various pieces of poetry, there is plenty of room for improvisation, Wahl said, so each show may be slightly different from the others. Some of the things audiences may see are Titus Andronicus as a cooking show and a version of Abbott and Costello's Who's on First sketch.
"The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)" opens tonight and runs through April 24 in the Center Theater in UT's Center for Performing Arts. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. A signed performance for the hearing impaired is scheduled Thursday. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and UT employees and alumni, and $8 for UT students. Information: 419-530-2375.
Love in its many facets, from dating to divorce to death, is explored in I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, the third show of the Oregon Community Theatre's season.
The musical is a cartoon, a caricature of real life, says director Lisa Gordon.
"Good comedy has plenty of 'oh yeah, I can relate to that' moments," she said, adding that I Love You certainly qualifies.
Accompanied by Tom Szor at the piano, the cast of Michael Gordon, Tammy Halay, Eric Hillenbrand, and Nancy Ice plays more than 60 different roles in skits that depict the range of emotions that accompany the big and little moments of life, from the anxiety of a blind date, the joy of newlyweds, the frustration of parenthood, the cynicism that accompanies a dying relationship, and the hope of new love.
"We have a neat mix of people," Gordon says. "Three are single - one a confirmed bachelor - and the fourth is my husband, Michael."
Due to the mature subject matter, the Oregon Community Theatre board of directors has rated the show PG-13.
"I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" is scheduled at 8 p.m. today, tomorrow, and April 22 and 23, and 3 p.m. April 24 in the auditorium of Fassett Middle School, 3025 Starr Ave., Oregon. Tickets are $12 for adults and $11 for seniors and students. Information: 419-691-1398 or www.oregoncommunitytheatre.org
●The University of Findlay's honorary theater fraternity, Alpha Psi Omega, is presenting the comedy Bullshot Crummond at 8 p.m. today and tomorrow and 6 p.m. Sunday in the John and Hester Powell Grimm Theatre on the Findlay campus.
The spoof of B-rated detective movies from the 1930s, written by Alan Sherman, Derek Cunningham, Diz White, John Neville Andrews, and Ron House, is primarily student-run, with only faculty members Joann Chase and Andrew Southard serving as the show's director and technical director.
Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for seniors and students. Information: 491-434-5335.
● Arthur Miller's The Crucible opens Thursday and continues through April 24 in Gundlach Theater at Heidelberg College in Tiffin.
Directed by retired Heidelberg professor James Lee Austin, the play about the witch trials in 17th century Salem, Mass., is often considered a metaphor for the communist witch-hunts of 1950s America.
Performances are scheduled at 8 p.m. April 21-24. Tickets are $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and non-Heidelberg students, and free for Heidelberg students with ID. Information: 419-448-2305
Contact Nanciann Cherry at: firstname.lastname@example.org