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Published: Thursday, 6/28/2007

Summer is silly, breezy season on stages in area

From left, Trina (Meggan Conti of Akron), Jenny (Missy Aguilar of Kettering, Ohio), and Sigrid
(Britney Koser of Huron, Ohio) play  aunts to be reckoned with  in I Remember Mama. From left, Trina (Meggan Conti of Akron), Jenny (Missy Aguilar of Kettering, Ohio), and Sigrid (Britney Koser of Huron, Ohio) play aunts to be reckoned with in I Remember Mama.

Two musicals and a family comedy open on area stages in the coming week.

In Montpelier, the Williams County Community Theatre goes for goofy laughs as it presents the musical melodrama Love Rides the Rails.

Directed by Shirley Goldsmith and Alice Miller, the show will compel audiences to boo and hiss at the villainous Simon Darkway and his greedy sidekick, Dirk Sneath, as they seek control of the Walker Valley, Pine Bush & Pacific Railroad.

Opposing them are the Widow Hopewell, who will be evicted if the bad guys get their way; her beautiful daughter, Prudence, a pure and gentle maiden who has caught the eye of the evil Darkway; Prudence's beau, the gallant Truman Pendennis, and Truman's staunch friend, Harold Standfaster.

"We did this show 25 years ago, or maybe longer," said Goldsmith earlier this week. The troupe was looking to do something silly for the summer and decided it was time to revisit the Old West.

Zach McAfee and Megan Miller portray Truman and Prudence; Joe Curry and Jamy Shaffer are Darkway and Sneath. Trudy Day is the widow, and DJ Zippay is Standfaster. An ensemble of railroad employees, caf workers, and dance hall girls includes Megan Clark, Deb Clum, Keith Day, Cathy Dukes, Barb Fleming, Alona McAfee, Bob McAfee, Abby McKelvey, Mike Roberts, and Keith Robinson.

The show aims to please audience members of all ages, Goldsmith said. "There's enough action and silly situations to keep the kids as well as the adults happy."

The Williams County Community Theater opens "Love Rides the Rails" at 8 p.m. tomorrow in the playhouse at 501 South East Ave., Montpelier, Ohio. Other performances are at 8 p.m. Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday, and 8 p.m. July 5-7. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, and $5 for children. Information: 419-485-3861.

Even as Kiss Me Kate continues at the Huron Playhouse, the summer theater program of Bowling Green State University, the next production is under way.

I Remember Mama opens Tuesday for a five-night run in the playhouse in Huron, Ohio.

Based on Mama's Bank Account, a memoir by Katherine Forbes, the gentle comedy is set in an immigrant household in the early years of the 20th century.

The large and loving family, Norwegians transplanted to San Francisco, includes Papa and Mama, daughters Katrin, Christine, and Dagmar, son Nels, and a gaggle of aunts and uncles, boarders and suitors. As the family learns to cope with a new culture, Mama guides her family through life.

The play, written in 1944 by John van Druten, was presented in 1953, 1963, and 1975, according to Jann Graham Glann, the playhouse's artistic director.

"It's been a long, long, long time now since we presented I Remember Mama," said Glann, who is directing the current production.

"It still speaks to good, strong family values, and in terms of our students, it's a play they haven't had much association with."

Jennifer Andacht of Parkside, Wis., and Addam Wawrzonek of Pittsburgh play Mama and Papa, Anne Marie Damman of Hillsdale, Mich., Kaitlyn Majoy of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, and Cathy Skutch of Toledo play, respectively, Katrin, Christine, and Dagmar, and John Warren of Massillon, Ohio, is Nels. Others in the cast include Meggan Conti of Akron, Britney Koser of Huron, Missy Aguilar of Kettering, Ohio, Aaron Mann of Fort Wayne, Ind., Mitchell Koory of Troy, Mich., and Neil Schneider of Manitowoc, Wis.

"Kiss Me Kate" continues through Saturday and "I Remember Mama" opens Tuesday and runs through July 7 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. Information: 419-433-4744.

The rock musical Return to the Forbidden Planet opens tonight in Walbridge as a production of the Coming Attraction Players.

The play by Bob Carlton borrows its plot from William Shakespeare's The Tempest as well as the 1950s sci-fi movie Forbidden Planet. Basically, the plot has Captain Tempest piloting a spacecraft on a routine survey flight. Their ship is drawn to the planet D'Illyria, where Dr. Prospero, a mad scientist, and his daughter, Miranda, are marooned.

Songs in the production include such hits from the 1950s, '60s, and '70s as "Great Balls of Fire," "Good Vibrations," "Shake, Rattle, and Roll," and "Only the Lonely."

Directed by Lora Pheils, the all-teen cast includes Nick Egtvedt as Captain Tempest; Aaron Leck as Dr. Prospero, Danielle Limon as Miranda, Ian Ortega as Ariel, Justin Betancourt as Cookie, Lydia Hymel as the science officer, and Lena Carlson as the navigation officer. Dana Almester, Meghan Collins, Hannah Costello, and Rachael Pheils play members of the crew.

D.J. Hiner is the vocal director, and Damian Stout directs the band.

"Return to the Forbidden Planet" is scheduled at 7 p.m. today-Saturday in Mainstreet Church, 705 North Main St., Walbridge. Tickets are $10 at the door. Information: www.freewebs.com/tcaptheatre.

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

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