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Published: Thursday, 4/12/2007

Wacky 'Earl' has a serious side

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
From left, Joshua Jastal, Turner Ferrara, and Chad Paben in a
scene from Earl the Vampire. From left, Joshua Jastal, Turner Ferrara, and Chad Paben in a scene from Earl the Vampire.
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Comedy and satire combine at Owens Community College in the student production of Earl the Vampire.

It s about a group of vampires who have formed a makeshift family, said director Cynthia Stroud of Perrysburg, an adjunct faculty member at Owens.

One of their number wants to come out of the coffin, so to speak, and live right out in the open (although not in the sunlight, because sunlight is very, very bad for vampires).

So he hits the talk-show circuit, which upsets other members of the family who wanted to keep their activities secret. He signs a contract for a book and starts a movement to get vampires recognized as a legitimate minority group.

Written by Sean Michael Welch, who teaches at the University of Michigan, the play is wacky and silly in the beginning, but gets very serious toward the end as the equal rights movement takes on a life of its own, Stroud said.

She called Owens association with Earl the Vampire a happy accident. Each year she seeks input from the students as to what type of play to put on, and this year, they wanted something goofy yet interesting. Stroud s computer research led her to Earl.

I didn t know at the time that the playwright lived so near, she said, adding that it has been a real luxury to be able to e-mail him and get his input on what he intended in certain scenes.

Starring as Earl is Turner Ferrara of Rossford, a student at Owens. Other Owens students and alumni in the cast are Joshua Fruland and John Sweney of Perrysburg, Kari Duffy of Millbury, Chad Paben of Maumee, Christina Marie of Northwood, Bradley Ray of Delta, and Tim Durbin, Kyle Lewis and William Toth of Toledo,

Augmenting the cast are University of Toledo students Joshua Jastal and Bronwyn Hazard; Rebecca Doran, a Toledo School for the Arts student; and Mary Wagner of Maumee.

Earl the Vampire opens tomorrow in the Mainstage Theatre of the Center for Fine and Performing Arts at Owens Community College, 30335 Oregon Rd., Perrysburg. Performances will be at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sunday through April 21. Tickets are $10 for the public and $8 for Owens students, employees, and senior citizens. Information: 567-661-2787.

Love and Death

For its final theatrical production of the 2006-07 season, the University of Toledo presents Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love.

You have to remember it s a very young play, said director Irene Alby, a visiting professor of theater. Canadian playwright Brad Fraser was about 20 when he wrote it, she said, and it is filled with graphic depictions of sex and violence.

The thing that fascinated me most is the physical and emotional disconnect, both between people and with individuals understanding themselves, she said.

Set in the summer of 1989, the play follows the lives and relationships of a group of young adults. Stuck in unsatisfying jobs, they try to balance the hunt for love with the fear created by a serial killer terrifying the city.

The plot reflects the modern phenomenon of human interaction being replaced by virtual interaction: People rely more on their televisions, computers, and other electronic devices for entertainment than they do other people, and through the electronic media, they are bombarded with images of sex and violence that numb the ability to respond to human needs.

Alby worked with student video designer Mitchell Lengerich to lace video throughout the production to present such images. The videos also are likely to shift the audience s attention away from the proceedings on stage to demonstrate how such images short-circuit human focus.

The show stars Pete Cross as David, Elif Erturk as Candy, Gordon James as Kane, Matt Gretzinger as Bernie, Jessica Kight as Benita, Nikki Soldner as Jerri, and Tyree Troutman as Robert.

These [characters] are people who are in pain, so they do what they do in order to feel. They need extremes.

Irby said that although the show is graphic and is definitely unsuitable for youngsters she chose to focus on the message. There is no nudity and the sex scenes are stylized.

Often what you don t see is more shocking than what you do, she said.

Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, and April 18-21, with matinees at 2 p.m. Sunday and April 22, in the Center Theatre in the Center for Performing Arts at the University of Toledo. Tickets are $13 for adults, $11 for seniors and UT employees, and $9 for UT students. Information: 419-530-2375.

Women s history

The Croswell Opera House presents Quilters this weekend in Adrian.

The musical, written by Molly Newman and Barbara Damashek for the Denver Center Theater Company, was presented on Broadway in 1984. It follows the lives of a woman and her six daughters journeying west in the 1870s. Their passion for quilting becomes the story of their lives, as their stitches and fabric tell tales of births and deaths, bad weather and the beauty of the American plains, the search for husbands, and the support each derives from the others. As they spin their tales over the quilting frames, the events are enacted on stage.

Kerry Graves, associate professor of theater and speech at Siena Heights University in Adrian, directs and choreographs the show. The cast comprises Stephanie Stephan and Elizabeth Palmer of Toledo; Joyce Cameron of Adrian, Stephanie Jass of Milan, Mich.; Nora Maher of Blissfield, Katherine Walters of Manchester, Mich.; and Carrie Wilson of Ann Arbor.

Quilters is scheduled at 8 p.m. tomorrow, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday in the Croswell Opera House, 139 East Maumee St., Adrian. Tickets are $25 for adults, $22 for seniors, and $20 for students. Information: 517-264-7469.

Comedy in Montpelier

A comedy of errors opens tomorrow in the Williams County Community Theater in Montpelier. But it s not Shakespeare s, it s Shue s.

A favorite of community troupes, the comedy by Larry Shue is set in a Georgia fishing lodge, where a group of guests learn that another guest, Charlie, can neither speak nor understand English. But that s not true; it s just a ploy to keep them from talking to Charlie, who is pathologically shy.

The ploy works all too well. During the course of Charlie s stay at the lodge, the other guests speak freely in front of him, and Charlie learns about bizarre schemes, diabolical plots, and dirty secrets. What else can he do but interfere?

Directed by Alona McAfee, The Foreigner stars Keith Robinson as Charlie; John Overberg as Charlie s pal, Froggy; and Bob McAfee, Jamie Shaffer, Kim Semer, Mary Beth Snider, and Zach McAfee as other guests at the lodge.

The Foreigner opens tomorrow in the Williams County Playhouse, 501 South East Ave., Montpelier, Ohio. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday through April 22. Tickets are $12. Information: 419-485-3861.

Contact Nanciann Cherry at: ncherry@theblade.com or 419-724-6130.



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