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Published: Thursday, 2/28/2008

Local productions have something for everyone

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Two productions for young people are opening in the area in the coming week, but for older audiences, the Village Players Theatre offers Monk Ferris' Let's Murder Marsha.

"It's a fun little play," said director Pat Mahoney. "It's fast-paced with lots of misinterpretations. Zany would be a good word for it."

The fun begins when the title character, a murder-mystery-obsessed housewife, overhears a conversation her husband, Tobias, is having with a beautiful stranger, Persis Devore. It leads her to believe he's planning her demise. Unwilling to go quietly, Marsha recruits her housekeeper, Bianca, and neighbor, Virgil Baxter, to help turn the tables on Tobias.

Marcia Weisenburger and Zac Gilley play Marsha and Tobias Gilmore; Amanda Ramirez is Bianca; Keith Daniel is Virgil; Sara Speelman is Persis; Diana West is Lynette Thoren, Marsha's mother, and Ian Alberts is Ben Quade, Bianca's boyfriend.

The play is good for just about all ages, Mahoney said. It speeds right along and there's no foul language.

"Let's Murder Marsha" opens tomorrow and runs through March 15 in the Village Players Theatre, 2740 Upton Ave. Shows begin at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2 p.m. March 9. Tickets are $14 for adults and $12 for seniors and students. information: 419-472-6817.

Next up on the Lourdes College Theater Vision program is Shakespeare.

The National Players, a professional troupe based in Olne, Md., brings an adaptation of the comedy Twelfth Night to the Franciscan Theatre & Conference Center of Lourdes College next week.

The tale focuses on twins Sebastian and Viola, who are separated during a shipwreck. Each believes the other to be dead, but, of course, they're not, and like many of Shakespeare's comedies, the plot involves mistaken identities, revelry, foolhardiness, madness, and unrequited love.

The word "adaptation" is no cause for alarm, according to Diana Fooksman, general manager of the National Players. "We cut away extra little scenes and minor characters," she said. For example, the character of Fabian is not in this version, with the character of Feste taking over Fabian's few lines.

The show is set more in England's Regency than in Shakespeare's time. The costuming - men are in tailcoats and boots, the women in gowns - gives more of a romantic feel.

"When we do our Shakespeare plays, we try to make the costumes something the audience can relate to," Fooksman said. For A Midsummer Night's Dream the cast was dressed in parochial school uniforms, and for The Taming of the Shrew, it was '50s "greaser" garb and poodle skirts.

Jule Horn, the Franciscan Center's arts education director, declined to limit Twelfth Night to a certain age group.

"We used to say [the Shakespeare productions] were for middle school students and older, but we've had some 6th-grade classes come and enjoy them. Let's just call it a good 90-minute introduction to Shakespeare," she said.

Performances of "Twelfth Night" are at 10 a.m. Wednesday and March 6 as part of the Theater Vision series at Lourdes College, 6832 Convent Blvd. Shows are aimed at school field trips, but the public is welcome to attend if space is available. Tickets are $9.50. Information: 419-824-3986.

In Huron, Ohio, Caryl Crane Children's Theatre opens its 22nd season tonight with Stuart Little - The Musical. The theater is based on Bowling Green State University's Firelands campus.

Inspired by the E.B. White book, the musical about a little mouse who is adopted by a family of humans in New York City includes songs such as "Paddle Your Own Canoe," "Feed Him Up," "Size," "Stuart Little," and "Nighttime in New York."

Jann Graham Glann directs a cast of 29, including Firelands students and adults and children from a three-county area. It's led by Huron residents Elaina Hemker as Stuart and Emily Wiseman as Mrs. Little and Firelands students David Ailing and Brett Minor as, respectively, Mr. Little and George Little.

"Stuart Little - The Musical" is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. today-Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday in McBride Auditorium at BGSU Firelands in Huron, about 65 miles east of Toledo. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for senior citizens, $5 for schoolchildren, and $4 for BGSU students. Information: 419-433-5560, ext. 20747, or 419-372-0747.

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



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