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Published: Thursday, 2/21/2008

Old favorites among new productions in the area

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Mysteries, musicals, and more open on Toledo and regional stages this week, beginning with the welcome return of a cagey senior citizen: Agatha Christie's Miss Marple.

Consider this situation: The alarm goes off on a Friday morning. You stumble to the kitchen for coffee and a quick look at the newspaper. An ad catches your eye: A murder is announced, and it will take place at (your address) at 6:30 tonight.

This happens to Letitia Blacklock, who owns the murder site in the community of Chipping Cleghorn, England. She is, understandably, distressed, and calls the police.

Such is the plot of A Murder is Announced, to be presented tomorrow through March 2 by the Archbold Community Theatre.

As with all Christie mysteries, there are twists and turns, secret identities, hidden agendas, and red herrings as Miss Marple and Inspector Craddock try to figure out who the murderer is before the victim is claimed.

Directed by Steve Van Sickle of Archbold, the cast features Peggy Wright-Patterson as Letitia Blacklock, Fairy Riter as Jane Marple, Troy Christman as the inspector, Todd Parnell as the detective sergeant, Sara Leininger as Phillipa Haymes, Miss Blacklock's boarder; Teresa VanSickle as Phillipa's friend, Bunny, and Candice McMath as Mitzi the cook.

Also in the cast are Donna Kinsman, David Stuckey, Faith Knapp, Nic Ennen, Theron Steinke, and Jan Delaney.

Archbold Community Theatre presents "A Murder is Announced" in Giffey Hall in Ridgeville Corners, Ohio. Performances are at 8 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, and Feb. 29 and March 1; a matinee is at 2:30 p.m. March 2. Tickets in advance are $8 for adults and $7 for students and seniors. At the door, all tickets are $9. Information: Patti at 419-267-5717.

The Ritz Players return to high school tomorrow when they open Grease.

Written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, the musical opened on Broadway in 1972, became a movie in 1978, and has been a staple of community theaters ever since.

The gentle spoof of the 1950s is sort of a Guys and Dolls for the high school set, with Danny Zuko, the head of a group of hot-rod-loving slackers, falling for Sandy Dumbrowski, a "nice" girl.

The Ritz Players' production is directed by Sandy Anderson and Michael Steyer, with musical direction by Lisa King. The large cast includes Matthew Feck as Danny, Jami Daniel as Sandy, Sarah Carpenter as Rizzo, Monica Siesel as Frenchy, Mandy Bour as Marty, Joan Ledwedge as Jan, Sam Waugaman, Jr., as Kenickie, Joel Dickerson as Doody, Dan Reichert as Roger, and Bradley Jayne as Teen Angel.

Also in the cast are Kelly Addis, Jerry Baker, Jim Cook, Sandy Kimmel, Terry Love, Stephanie Osborn, Erin Snook, and Michael Weber. The choruses comprise Lynne Anthony, Amy Berger, Brenda Eisenhower, Jeramia Green, Jennie Hoffman, Josh Lemmermen, Ashley Philpot, James Puffenberger, and Jenny Szalay.

"Grease" is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, and March 1, and at 2 p.m. March 2 in the Ritz Theatre, 30 South Washington St., Tiffin. Tickets for the Ritz Players' production are $14 for adults and $9 for students. Information: 419-448-8544, 800-586-7382, or www.ritztheatre.org.

•The Toledo Repertoire Theatre's Edgy Rep Reading series continues Saturday with Necessary Targets. Eve Ensler's drama is about two American women, a New York psychiatrist and a trauma counselor (and war junkie), who travel to a Bosnian refugee camp to conduct therapy sessions with a group of female war victims.

Ensler's play is based on interviews with women who survived civil war in the former Yugoslavia, and through it, she examines the emotional toll of war as well as the methods she uses to obtain material for her plays.

In its third year, the EdgyRep series presents staged readings of shows that deserve an audience but may be controversial or have a limited appeal.

The Toledo Repertoire Theatre presents a reading of "Necessary Targets" at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Society Gallery in the Secor Hotel, 425 Jefferson St. Tickets are $11.75. Information: 419-243-9277.

•Gypsy, inspired by the story of Gypsy Rose Lee, runs through Sunday at the University of Findlay. Written by Arthur Laurents, with music by Jule Style and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the musical drama traces the life of the well-known actress and stripper from her childhood roles on vaudeville with her sister, Baby June, until her break with her domineering stage mother and her success as an erotic dancer. Famous songs in the musical include "Small World," "Everything's Coming Up Roses," and "Let Me Entertain You."

"Gypsy" is scheduled at 8 p.m. today-Saturday and 6 p.m. Sunday in the Grimm Theatre of UF's Egner Center for the Performing Arts, Findlay. Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for students and seniors. Information: 419-434-5335.

•Neil Simon's Fools opens tomorrow as a presentation of Siena Heights University's division of visual and performing arts and education. The 1981 comedy takes place in the late 1800s in a small village in Russia. When Leon Tolchinsky, the new schoolteacher, arrives he discovers that the town has been cursed with chronic stupidity for two centuries, and if he can't break the curse within 24 hours, he, too, will become a victim. Douglas Miller, a professor of theater, directs.

"Fools" is scheduled at 8 p.m. today-Saturday in Francoeur Theatre of Siena Heights University's Performing Arts Center in Adrian. Tickets are $7 for the public and $5 for SH students and staff. Information: 517-264-7840.

Contact Nanciann Cherry at: ncherry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6130.



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