Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Charlie Brown, Cole Porter light up summer stages


Cast of SummerStock 07 at the University of Findlay includes, clockwise from top, Katherine Smart in Into the Woods, and Aaron Keller (Charlie Brown), Emma Lorraine Giffen (Lucy), and Doug Cordes (Linus) in You re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.


The end of spring classes does not mean the end of theatrical productions for two area colleges. Bowling Green State University and the University of Findlay are opening their summer stock programs in the coming week, and both are starting their seasons with a song.

The Huron Playhouse, a division of BGSU s department of theater and film, is putting the final touches on Cole Porter s Kiss Me Kate, and UF is preparing You re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.

Written in 1948 by Sam and Bella Spewak, Kiss Me Kate becomes a play-within-a play as an embattled theatrical troupe tries to redeem its fortunes by presenting William Shakespeare s The Taming of the Shrew. The leads in Shrew, Petruchio and Katherine, are played by the divorced stars, Fred and Lilli, who get reacquainted on the stage and, after a few battles of their own, fall in love again.

It s a great way to get the season started, said Jann Graham Glann, who is in her 16th season as artistic director of the playhouse, which is celebrating its 59th birthday.

The Huron season consists of five productions. A musical alternates with a nonmusical comedy, and all the works are fun, Glann said. This year, the two opening shows, Kate and I Remember Mama, are returnees to the playhouse. The other three Nunsense, the Mega Musical; Leading Ladies; and Annie are newcomers to the Huron stage.

Summer stock is a good way for students to immerse themselves in theater, Glann said. They do everything from serving meals, building sets, creating props, stitching costumes, and cleaning the theater as well as acting and working on the stage crew. The title artistic director might sound fancy, but I m on the floor, scrubbing too, she said.

For Kiss Me Kate, Porter s score includes songs such as Too Darn Hot, Brush Up Your Shakespeare, and Wunderbar.

Ken McCoy, chairman of the theater arts department of Stetson University in DeLand, Fla., directs Kiss Me Kate, a show he also directed at the playhouse in 1993.

The cast is headed by Shaina Vencel of Cortland, Ohio, as Lilli and Katherine; John Glann of New York as Fred and Petruchio; Sarah Ittner of Saginaw, Mich., as Lois and Bianca, Mitchell Koory of Troy, Mich., as Bill Calhoun; and Missy Aguilar of Kettering, Ohio, as Hattie.

Kiss Me Kate opens Tuesday and runs through June 30 in the Huron Playhouse in the McCormick School, 325 Ohio St., Huron. Performances are at 8 p.m., and tickets are $12 for adults, $11 for students and seniors, and $8 for children 11 and younger from the playhouse box office. Season passes are $50. Information: 419-433-4744.

Findlay show

The University of Findlay opens a three-show summer season with the 1999 revision of You re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.

When the musical was first a hit off-Broadway in 1967, many of Charles M. Schulz s beloved characters were either minor ones or hadn t been written yet, said Scott Hayes, artistic director of UF s SummerStock.

The creators of the original musical decided it should be reworked, he said, and they added such people as Peppermint Patty, developed the relationship between Linus and Lucy, and made Snoopy s role stronger.

This [the revised version] was the show that launched Kristin Chenowith s career, Hayes said. She won a Tony Award for playing Sally Brown.

Hayes called Charlie Brown a sneaky show.

It takes a lot more talent than you d believe, both acting and musically.

Once he had his core professional company in place for Charlie Brown, he was able to go ahead and schedule the final show of the season, Into the Woods, which has the same kind of demands talent-wise.

Along with the five professionals Rachel Brinker as Sally, Doug Cordes as Linus, James Holden as Snoopy, Aaron Keller as the title character, and Emma Lorraine Giffen as Lucy Charlie Brown features Christopher Childes as Schroeder.

The UF SummerStock program has a small college internship program, of which Childes is a member, and a small high school apprenticeship program. Performers from those programs will also supplement the casts of Cheaper by the Dozen, opening July 11, and Into the Woods, opening July 25.

You re a Good Man, Charlie Brown opens at Wednesday (6/27) in the Grimm Theatre of the Egner Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Findlay, 1000 North Main St., Findlay. Performances are at 8 p.m. Wednesday-June 29, 2 and 8 p.m. June 30, and 6 p.m. July 1. Tickets are $15 per show or $35 for the three-show SummerStock season. Information: 419-434-5335.

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

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