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Published: Thursday, 5/10/2007

Comedy, mystery, and more at area community theaters

Kent McClary, left, as Dr. Watson and Simon Morgan-Russell
as Sherlock Holmes in the Black Swamp Players production of
The Secret of Sherlock Holmes. Kent McClary, left, as Dr. Watson and Simon Morgan-Russell as Sherlock Holmes in the Black Swamp Players production of The Secret of Sherlock Holmes.
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Do you want comedy? How about mystery? How about some good, old-fashioned patriotism?

Look no further than area community theaters, which are opening a variety of productions this week.

In Bowling Green, the Black Swamp Players are opting for mystery to end their 2006-07 season.

Director Janet McClary says she and her husband, Kent, came upon Jeremy Paul's The Secret of Sherlock Holmes in the best of all possible circumstances.

"We saw it in London," she said. "We saw an advertisement saying that Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke were starring in it, and we had to see it."

The McClarys were fans of the Sherlock Holmes series on PBS that starred Brett and Hardwicke, some episodes of which were written by Paul.

The Secret of Sherlock Holmes is a two-man show about the relationship between Holmes and his best friend, Dr. John Watson, their cases, and Holmes' nemesis, Moriarty, "the Napoleon of crime."

And there is a secret, too.

For the production, Simon Morgan-Russell, an associate dean at Bowling Green State University, plays Holmes, and Watson is played by Kent McClary, who starred in the one-man show Bully, also directed by Janet, about Theodore Roosevelt last year for the BSP.

The director says she believes that The Secret of Sherlock Holmes is suitable for most ages. Its emphasis is on dialogue rather than action, but there's a lot to enjoy within those limits.

"The Secret of Sherlock Holmes" is scheduled at 8 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, and May 18 and 19 and 2 p.m. May 20 in the the First United Methodist Church, 1506 East Wooster St. Bowling Green. Tickets in advance are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and students, available at Grounds for Thought, 174 South Main St., Bowling Green. At the door, tickets are $10. Information: 419-354-3266.

Ann Landers comes to life tomorrow when Ms. Rose's Dinner Theater presents The Lady with All the Answers.

The one-woman show, featuring Pat Rudes, had a three-day preview in January but now opens a five-weekend run.

"I'd never done a one-woman show before," said Rudes, a veteran Toledo actress who has appeared in many plays, including The Gin Game and The Oldest Profession, both at Ms. Rose's.

Rudes said she was a bit overwhelmed at the thought of carrying an entire show, but after reading the script, she felt comfortable with the character and the dialogue. The capper, she said, was when she read it aloud to a friend, who sat on Rudes' sofa, laughing and crying at all the right moments.

Landers and her twin sister, Abigail Van Buren, were the quintessential advice columnists from the 1950s through the turn of the millennium. The play takes place on one night in 1975, when Landers (whose real name was Esther Friedman Lederer) must balance a looming deadline for her column with the heartbreaking news that her husband wants a divorce.

Written in 2005 by CSI: Crime Scene Investigation writer David Rambo and directed by David Sollish of Chicago, a member of Actor's Equity who is pursuing his doctorate in musical theater at Bowling Green State University, The Lady with All the Answers is as much a reflection on society as it is on Landers.

"It turns out that there's a lot more to this woman than I realized," Rudes said. "That's what this play explores."

Lady, she said, is most likely to appeal to a somewhat mature audience. There's a lot of dialogue, little action, and she does read a number of letters that were sent to Landers, including some very frank questions about sex.

"The Lady with All the Answers" opens at 8 p.m. tomorrow in Ms. Rose's Dinner Theater, 25740 North State Rt. 25, Perrysburg. Other performances are at 3 p.m. May 20 and 8 p.m. May 18 and 25 and June 1, 2, 8, and 9. Doors open two hours before the show for the buffet meal. Tickets are $43. Information: 419-874-8505.

•Children's Theatre Workshop's Teen Company presents the musical We the People tomorrow and Saturday.

Set in a town that decides to use the Preamble to the Constitution as the inspiration for a patriotic celebration, the show, through songs, dances, and short sketches, explores those elements that are unique to this country. Highlights include the military hymns of the various branches of the armed forces and a tribute to the victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The entire production, from cast to crew to other technical support, is being handled by CTW students ages 10-18 representing Toledo, Sylvania, Maumee, Northwood, Holland, and Bowling Green.

"We the People" is scheduled at 8 p.m. tomorrow and 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday in the Chapel Theater of the Collingwood Arts Center, 2413 Collingwood Blvd. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for seniors and students. All members of the military, active and retired, will get in free. Information: 419-244-5061.

•The Underpants by Carl Sternheim opens tomorrow at Monroe County Community College. Set in the early 1900s in Germany, it centers on Louise, who is married to Theo, an officious minor governmental clerk. At a parade one day, the cord holding up Louise's bloomers gives way, and they fall to the ground, causing Theo a great deal of embarrassment when he hears about it and providing the grist for the remainder of the comedy.

Sternheim wrote The Underpants as a satire in 1910 to underscore the emptiness of the bourgeois lifestyle, but it also sent messages about the growing attitude of anti-Semitism. Comedian Steve Martin adapted the play to emphasize the comedy and tone down, but not entirely omit, the political implications.

Presented by the college's QuagMeyer Productions, The Underpants stars Linda Robert as Louise and David Wahr as Theo. It is for mature audiences.

"The Underpants" is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in Meyer Theater of the La-Z-Boy Center at Monroe County Community College, 1555 South Raisinville Rd., Monroe. Tickets are $10. A dinner-theater option is available at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow with tickets for the meal and show set at $30. Information: 734-384-4272.

•The Williams County Community Theatre spoofs American Idol with Idol Night at the Karoke Place. Written by Christopher Avell of Bryan, Ohio, the show pokes fun at Fox Network's reality program as well as at karoke performances in general. Directed by Lisa and Christopher Avell, performers include Lori Avina, Crystal Bowers, Vickie Davis, Dawn Hamman, Amy Hook, Lora Knight, Bob McAfee, Kyler Moor, Erik Nelson, Elizabeth Overberg, John Overberg, Joe Rath, Andrew Raub, Mike Roberts, Shelley Scantlen, and Jamy Shaffer.

"Idol Night at the Karoke Place" is scheduled at 8 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, and May 19 in the Little Theatre, 208 West Butler St., Bryan. Tickets are $7 in advance and $8 at the door. Information: 419-636-0593. A dinner theater option is available for $17, with dinner being served at Rita's on the Square, across the street from the theater (reservations: 419-636-1413).

•Fridays, a comedy-drama by Andrew Johns, opens tomorrow in the Encore Theatre, 991 North Shore Dr., Lima.

Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through May 20. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $7 for youths. Information: 419-223-8866 or 800-944-1441.

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



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