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Published: Thursday, 1/12/2006

Rep stages 1-woman play 'Shirley Valentine'

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Shirley Williams performs scenes from the Toledo Repertoire Theatre s production of Shirley Valentine. Shirley Williams performs scenes from the Toledo Repertoire Theatre s production of Shirley Valentine.
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"It's so unfair to call me a director," Paul Causman says about his responsibilities for Shirley Valentine, which opens tomorrow in the Toledo Repertoire Theatre.

"The show stars Shirley Williams, and she makes my job so easy, I'm really just a facilitator."

Written by Willy Russell, the one-woman play had its premiere in Liverpool, England, in 1986. Though it is 20 years old, Causman says it's amazing how relevant it is today. Even the slang and idioms in the language sound modern, he says.

Shirley Valentine is about a middle-aged Liverpool housewife whose children have grown and left home. As Shirley follows her daily routine, she talks to the walls, comparing her current anonymous self to the joyous, adventurous woman she used to be. When a friend wins an all-expenses-paid vacation for two to Greece and invites her along, Shirley not only goes to get some sun and see the world, she goes to see if she can unearth the loving, sexual being inside.

While Williams says that learning the massive number of lines in the play "is like being pregnant for a year," she absolutely loves the character of Shirley Valentine.

"She has empowered me to look at my worth and value as a woman," Williams says. "As the play says, even the emotional wounds and battle scars you carry with you are marks of being alive."

The play originally called for a lot of props as Shirley works in her kitchen, then visits Greece. However, Causman chose a minimalist staging, with mainly a table and chair.

"The play is so powerful, it's almost as if the props get in the way of that intimate connection the actress has with the audience," he says.

Causman and Williams have a stage history. Not only did they star in Love Letters at the Rep several years ago, he directed her in Dancing at Lughnasa. She also starred in Lost in Yonkers and Crimes of the Heart.

She has been away from the stage for several years, Causman says, earning a living and tending to other parts of her life, but he is delighted she has returned to acting and is sure audiences will be, too.

Causman also says that the show is for teens and older audiences. There is salty language and the subject matter gets pretty explicit, especially in regard to a woman's sexuality.

"Shirley Valentine" opens tomorrow and runs through Jan. 29 in the Toledo Repertoire Theatre, 15 10th St. Performances are 8 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays, and Jan. 26 with matinees at 2:30 p.m. Jan. 22 and 29. Tickets are $18 for adults and $16 for seniors. Information: 419-243-9277.

●Fremont Community Theatre presents The Foreigner tomorrow through Jan. 22 in its theater at 1551 Dickinson St. Directed by Virginia Wise, the comedy by Larry Shue concerns Charlie Baker, an Englishman who travels to a Georgia fishing lodge for a quiet vacation. Through a misunderstanding, the locals come to believe that Baker can neither speak nor understand English, leading to the inadvertent spilling of many secrets about the community Baker is visiting. The play is scheduled at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and students. Information: 419-332-0695.

●Backstage, a comedy by Shirley McNichols, is scheduled at 8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the Encore Theatre, 991 North Shore Dr., Lima. Memory Wilson directs the McDonald's Youth Theatre production about a school administration that wants to end the drama program, the two high school teachers who are determined to bring the latest production to the stage, and the students who believe their teachers are eloping. Tickets are $6. Information: 419-223-8866 or 800-944-1441.

Contact Nanciann Cherry at: ncherry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6130.



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