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Published: Thursday, 10/6/2005

Troupe, show debut on Collingwood stage

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
From left, Cheryl Walker as Donna, Megan McGarry as young Paula, and Joe Dennehy as Chris
in a scene from Night by Michaelangelo at the Collingwood Arts Center.
From left, Cheryl Walker as Donna, Megan McGarry as young Paula, and Joe Dennehy as Chris in a scene from Night by Michaelangelo at the Collingwood Arts Center.
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A brand new show makes its debut with a brand new theater troupe in Toledo.

Gary Giovannetti's Night by Michelangelo opens tonight and runs through Oct. 16 in the Collingwood Arts Center as the first production of Harvest Theatre.

"Gary is really incredibly talented and one of the funniest guys I've ever met," says director William Quinlan, who founded Harvest Theatre with his wife, Juliette.

Quinlan had intended to present Giovannetti's comedy Soundtrack to Czanne, but New York Theatre Workshop, the company that produced Rent, took that show under consideration, and it was no longer available.

It worked out for Harvest Theatre, though; Night by Michelangelo, while just as funny as Czanne, has more depth and texture, Quinlan says.

The show is about a Long Island stripper who, when diagnosed with breast cancer, sets out on a cross-country journey of self-discovery. Along the way, she meets several eccentric characters who help her to her goal.

Starring as Paula, the stripper, is Stephanie Stephan, who has appeared in several area productions, including Toledo Repertoire Theatre's Spike Heels, and Croswell Opera House's Kiss Me, Kate.

"Stephanie and her husband, Joe [Dennehy] came into the show quite late, but I couldn't be happier," Quinlan says. "I had a girl cast as Paula from Chicago, but it became obvious that it just wasn't going to work out."

When another cast member, Thom Sinn, recommended Stephan; Quinlan said he headed to the Croswell to watch her in Das Barbecu and immediately sent her the script.

Not only did she love it and agree to become Paula, she brought along Dennehy, who often appears at the Croswell, to take the role of Paula's doctor.

Also in the cast are Cheryl Walker as Donna, Paula's estranged mother; Megan McGarry of Erie as young Paula in several flashback scenes, and Sinn and Michael Portteus, who play three roles each, as the eccentrics Paula meets on her journey.

Quinlan is equally delighted with the Collingwood Arts Center. "It's absolutely gorgeous. If we can get people in, they will be astounded at how wonderful this theater is."

Night by Michelangelo has strong language and brief partial nudity.

Harvest Theatre of Toledo presents "Night by Michelangelo" through Oct. 16 in the Collingwood Arts Center, 2413 Collingwood Blvd. Shows are at 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $20 for adults and $17 for seniors and students, from Brown Paper Tickets, 1-800-838-3006, or at the door. There are several ticket specials, however. Wednesday is "pay-what-you-can-night" ($1 minimum), with tickets available the day of the show only. Thursdays are "date nights," when patrons can buy a $20 ticket and get the second for $10. Season passes are $70 for all four shows but allow pass holders to come as many times as they want to any or all shows. Details on the ticket specials and other special events are spelled out on the troupe's Web site, www.harvesttheatre.com.

●Tiffin University presents You Have the Right to Remain Dead, an interactive murder mystery, at 8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday in Osceola Theater, on the Tiffin campus. Tickets are $5 for the public; there is no charge for TU students, faculty, and staff. Directed by Joann Chase, adjunct professor of theater at the University of Findlay, the show's cast offers clues, hides clues, and solicits help from the audience in the course of figuring out the comedic mystery. Information: 419-448-3366.

●Defending the Caveman is scheduled at 8 p.m. today and tomorrow, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday in the Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd. Tickets range from $33.50 to $42.50. Information: 419-381-8851.

●The Theater Vision series continues at the Franciscan Theatre & Conference Center of Lourdes College, 6832 Convent Blvd., Sylvania, with performances at 10 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. today of Walk Two Moons, adapted from Sharon Creech's 1994 Newbery Medal-winning novel and geared to students in grades 4 through 9. Scheduled at the same times Tuesday through Oct. 13 is Willy Wonka, based on Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Intended for students in grades 2 through 6, Willy Wonka is being presented by the Kennedy Center Imagination Celebration on Tour.

Tickets are $7 for the 10 a.m. shows and $6.50 for the 12:15 p.m. shows. The shows are promoted to schools for field trips, but if there is room, the public is welcome to attend. Information: 419-824-3986.

Contact Nanciann Cherry at:

ncherry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6130.



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