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Published: Thursday, 10/18/2007

Local native helps abridge the Bard

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Four regional colleges are offering shows for all ages this week, from preschoolers at Lourdes College to mature audiences at Bowling Green State University.

Owens Community College in Perrysburg Township is hoping to attract all ages tonight when it presents one performance of Windwood Theatricals The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).

Three actors present a high-energy spoof of all things Shakespeare in a format that includes a football game and a cooking show.

If you hate Shakespeare, that s great. You re probably the perfect audience for this, said Josh Mertz, who, along with Tim Eliot and Matthew Quinn, presents the irreverent romp.

A native of Bowling Green and a 1990 graduate of Otsego High School, Mertz had a few days off between performances, so he took the time to visit his parents, David and Donna, who still live in rural Bowling Green.

My poor folks are trying to sell [the show] to some of their northwest Ohio friends, and a lot of people are like Oh that s Shakespeare I don t understand it. And it s hard to get across to people that it doesn t matter. It s kind of indescribable.

Mertz called Shakespeare (Abridged) one of those shows that never gets old. There s always something new to discover and fun to be had. Everybody s got their own version.

Written in the early 1980s by Austin Tichenor and Reed Martin, the show ran for more than a decade in London, garnering praise from critics and audiences, once they could stop laughing.

Mertz said although the play is about works that are more than 400 years old, it s still fresh. The original version made references to to former celebrities and incidents such as Sally Jesse Raphael, and George Bush vomiting in Japan, Mertz said, adding that people born within the last 20 years wouldn t understand.

But [the playwrights] make clear ... they say please, please, please keep the show updated by adding in current references. Sowe ve put in the current George Bush and Lindsay Lohan and cell phones and the Internet.

Mertz has been through Toledo before in a professional capacity. He played Lank Hawkins in the Theater League production of Crazy for You in 2004.

It s a show he s going back to.

After the Shakespeare tour ends next Thursday in Brooklyn, N.Y., he starts rehearsals at the Arizona Broadway Theater near Phoenix, where the Gershwin musical will run through the end of the year. This time, Mertz will play Bella Zangler, the eastern European producer.

For now, he s enjoying his visit. It s always such a treat to make it back to Toledo, and I feel really blessed that I not only am working as an actor but that I have opportunities to come back home and show everybody my stuff.

Owens Community College presents The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) at 7:30 tonight in the Center for Fine and Performing Arts, 30335 Oregon Rd., Perrysburg. Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, and $16 for Owens students. Information: 567-661-2787.

Puppets at work

Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia interprets three Leo Lionni stories for the Theater Vision program at Lourdes College in Sylvania.

Swimmy is about a tiny fish that fends off danger with its ingenuity. The mouse Frederick uses poetry to make life an artful experience, and in Inch by Inch, an inchworm delights in measuring everything.

Mermaid Theatre uses puppetry, lighting techniques, and an original musical score to bring the stories to life.

The shows are geared to youngsters from pre-kindergarten through second grade. The Theater Vision program was designed for school field trips, but if the shows aren t sold out, the public is welcome to attend.

Seating for Leo Lionni s Swimmy, Frederick and Inch by Inch is available at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday in the auditorium of the Franciscan Theater & Conference Center of Lourdes College, 6832 Convent Blvd., Sylvania. Tickets are $7. Information: 419-824-3986.

BGSU shows

Students old and new get the spotlight this week as BGSU presents its annual Newcomers Showcase in repertory with Love s Fire.

In the Newcomers Showcase, students new to the campus as freshmen or transfers present one-act plays, scenes, and songs. This year, the theme is Talking Matters and the works presented have all been written by women. In Love s Fire, graduate student directors and veteran student actors present works by contemporary authors in experimental stagings. These works are definitely for mature audiences.

BGSU s Newcomers Showcase is scheduled at 8 p.m. today and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Love s Fire is scheduled at 8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday. Performances are in the Joe E. Brown Theatre in University Hall. Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for children (Newcomers Showcase only). Information: 419-372-2719.

Drama in Ada

The Ohio Northern University communication arts department presents Suddenly Last Summer as the first production of its academic year. Tennessee Williams drama centers on Catherine, a young woman who witnessed a horrific death and whose family will go to any lengths to cover up the truth.

Suddenly Last Summer will be presented at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Oct. 26, 2 and 8 p.m. Oct. 27, and 2 p.m. Oct. 28 in the Freed Center for the Performing Arts at Ohio Northern University in Ada. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for seniors and ONU students. Information: 419-772-1900.

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



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