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Published: Thursday, 2/23/2006

Rep stages old-fashioned drama 'Morning's at Seven'

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

And now for something completely different, at least for Jeffrey Albright.

Albright, who directed the Toledo Repertoire Theatre's contemporary play Spike Heels and participated in its Edgy Rep Reading of Boston Marriage, is directing Paul Osborn's Morning's at Seven, which opens tomorrow in the Tenth Street theater.

"I call it the anti-Spike Heels," he says. "It was written and takes place in a small town in 1939, and the first time I read the play, it seemed so old-fashioned, but when you think about it, that's the way things were back then."

Central to the action is a longtime bachelor, Homer, whose announcement that he intends to marry his fianc of a dozen years, Myrtle, sets off a series of reactions. His mother, Ida, isn't ready to turn Homer over to another woman. Ida's sister Cora realizes how much she wants to be alone with her husband, Thor, which means she has to get spinster sister Arry, to move out. And Esther, who has been estranged from her three sisters by the demands of her husband, David, wants back in the family circle.

"Things are strained, but it all works out because it's a truly loving family," Albright says.

Albright has nothing but praise for his cast, which is filled with community theater veterans and one newcomer: Scott Dibling, who plays Homer. His parents, Ida and Carl, are played by Jean Mills and Jeff Bell; Carol Ann Erford plays Cora, and Tim Keogh is her husband, Thor; Barbara Barkan is the spinster sister Arry, Patricia Rudes plays the estranged Esther, and Chuck Vicinus is her husband, David. Rounding out the cast is Cindi Bilby as Myrtle.

Because the show is old-fashioned and because some of the situations flirt with being less than credible, if you don't believe in the characters, the play is just silly, Albright says. This cast will make you believe, he believes.

Morning's at Seven is totally family friendly, Albright says. "I wouldn't bring young children because I don't think it would hold their attention, but it works well for older children and teens."

"Morning's At Seven" opens tomorrow and runs through March 12 in the Toledo Repertoire Theatre, 16 10th St. Performances are 8 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, and March 3, 4, 9, 10, and 11, and 2:30 p.m. March 5 and 12. Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $5 for students with student ID. Information: 419-243-9277.

Belles, a play with two acts, six sisters, and 45 phone calls, opens tomorrow in Giffey Hall in Ridgeville Corners. Presented by Archbold Community Theatre, Mark Dunn's 1989 work begins with a call from Peggy in Memphis to her sisters, who have scattered across the United States. She wants to tell them all about Mama, who is in the hospital with food poisoning. But the sisters are more interested in themselves than in Mama. Paige is on the lookout for a handsome boyfriend; Sherry wants two things: spiritual peace and William, who happens to be the husband of sister Roseanne. Not so coincidentally, Roseanne is seeking marital advice. Audrey wants to be a ventriloquist, but someone stole her dummy. Aneece wants to talk to Mama, but it's raining, and Mama is afraid of electrocution through the phone lines.

Starring in Belles are Peggy Wright-Patterson and Katie Timmes of Archbold, Michelle Johnson of Wauseon, and Faith Miller, Shelly Scantlen, and Kim Semer of Bryan. Karen Grieser of Hamilton, Ind., directs.

The entire play, according to technical director Bill Phelps, takes place on the telephone, and with both dramatic and hilarious moments, it provides a touching glimpse of family bonds.

"Belles" is scheduled at 8 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, and March 3 and 4 and 2:30 p.m. March 5. Dinner theater options are available on Feb. 25 and March 4. Tickets are $9 for the performances only, $25 for the dinner theater. Information is available from Patti at 419-267-5717 from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday-Friday.

● The Williams County Community Theater presents Jean Kerr's Finishing Touches tonight-March 5 in the Montpelier Theater, 501 South East Ave., Montpelier. First produced on Broadway in 1973, the comedy is about an English professor and his wife, whose marriage has lost its bloom. When their son, a Harvard student, brings home a young actress and introduces her as his mistress, he shocks his parents and sets in motion a series of life-altering events. The cast includes Lori Avina, Crystal Bowers, Adam Butler, Ray Drewyer, Bob McAfee, Zach McAfee, Travis Oberlin, and Loni Smith. Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $12. Information: 419-485-3861.

● William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night is being presented tonight-Saturday at Siena Heights University in Adrian. Directed by Mark DiPietro, chairman of the university's division of visual and performing arts and education, the comedy will feature Andrew Dunn and Rebecca Bernath, both of Toledo, as the duke of Illyria and Olivia, respectively, and Jessica Randall of Clinton, Mich., as Viola. Performances are at 8 p.m. in Francoeur Theatre in the Performing Arts Center, 1247 East Siena Heights Dr. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students, seniors, and members of the Siena Heights community. Information: 517-264-7890.

●Theatreworks USA, a professional troupe based in New York City, brings Junie B. Jones to the Valentine Theatre Saturday. The musical, geared to children in kindergarten through grade 5, is a combination of several of Barbara Parks' books about Junie, a kindergarten graduate facing the joys and terrors of first grade. Performances are at 2 and 4 p.m. in the theater at 400 North Superior St., and tickets are $7 and $11 for youngsters and $12 and $16 for adults. Information: 419-242-2787.

Contact Nanciann Cherry at: ncherry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6130.



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