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Published: Friday, 4/22/2005

The pros come in for single performances

Ashly Fishell is Juliet, Kevin Pierson is Friar Lawrence, and Caleb Probst is Romeo in the National Players  production of Romeo and Juliet. Ashly Fishell is Juliet, Kevin Pierson is Friar Lawrence, and Caleb Probst is Romeo in the National Players production of Romeo and Juliet.

Three professional productions are making their way to the area this week.

At the Ritz Theatre in Tiffin, the National Players present Romeo and Juliet tonight.

Formed in 1949, the Players (under four different names) have embarked on 56 consecutive touring seasons, presenting the works of Shakespeare, O'Neill, Moliere, Shaw, Kafka, and the Greek classicists.

"We also do more modern works - Of Mice and Men, Equus, A Few Good Men - but they have to be plays that we consider dramatic classics," said general manager Bill Gillett in a telephone interview Tuesday from Olney, Md., the Players' home base.

The troupe that is coming to the Ritz was formed in September and has been traveling around the country since then, performing either Romeo and Juliet or The Orpheus Cycle, by Sophocles.

"There's nobody on tour that's not an actor as well as a technical person," Gillett said. The troupe arrives at a theater, unloads its props and equipment from the trucks, raises the set, presents the performance, tears everything down, and heads off to the next venue.

The National Players' Romeo and Juliet does as much as possible to help audience relate to the story, Gillett said.

Because the basis for the story is an ancient quarrel among families of the same city, the set has a feel of urban decay.

The costumes have a contemporary style, with the Montagues, Romeo's family, dressed in shades of blue, the Capulets, Juliet's family, in shades of red. The prince and his relatives are in gray.

As for the play itself, Shakespeare's story of young love, feuding families, and unnecessary violence has proven to be timeless.

The National Players present "Romeo and Juliet" at 8 tonight in the Ritz Theater, 30 South Washington St., Tiffin. Tickets are $18 for adults and $14 for students. Information: 419-448-8544.

Also at the Ritz, Kristin Stewart stars as the title character in the national touring production of Stand By Your Man: The Tammy Wynette Story.

"The show follows her life from the time she was 19 picking cotton to when she passes away," producer Jerry Lonn said from the office of Encore Attractions in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Larry Tobias plays George Jones, with whom Wynette performed and had a stormy marriage.

The show features 26 songs, including "Stand by Your Man," "I Don't Want to Play House Anymore," "D-I-V-O-R-C-E," and "Golden Rings."

The curtain rises on the production at 2 p.m. Tuesday. Tickets range from $16 to $24.

The Boston-based Chamber Repertory Theatre will bring a series of short stories to life at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in the Franciscan Theatre & Conference Center of Lourdes College in Sylvania.

On the playbill of Encore!!, the CRT's original two-act play, are Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell Tale Heart, Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, W.W. Jacobs' chilling The Monkey's Paw, Guy de Maupassant's ironic The Necklace, and Mark Twain's humorous The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.

The production is geared toward school groups, but the public is welcome, according to publicist Nance Movsesian.

"It's a wonderful opportunity to see a live production and to cultivate a new generation of theater-lovers," she said.

Tickets are $13.95 and are available at the door.

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