Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018
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1776 shows Croswell has a flair for timing

If timing is everything, the Croswell Opera House has a hit on its hands.

For the second production of its summer musical season, the Adrian theater is preparing 1776, the Peter Stone-Sherman Edwards show about the birth of the Declaration of Independence. It opens at 7 p.m. tomorrow, which is an hour earlier than usual because it is, of course, Independence Day.

Though it turns 40 years old next year, 1776 is timeless, said director Gerald Blanchard in a telephone interview last week.

A lot of [musicals] are simple entertainment, he said. This is so theatrical.

Mostly historically accurate, the play presents the Founding Fathers as flawed human beings. Central to the story are John Adams, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson, who are trying to come up with a document that all of the 13 colonies can agree to. What is important to New Englanders is negligible to the southern colonies, and vice versa. And many representatives to the Continental Congress refuse to believe that it s possible or even desirable to cut the bonds with England.

It s pretty astounding, the way they came together in a spirit of compromise and determination to get this done, Blanchard said. It s hard to picture that happening these days.

Playing Adams is Karl Schmidt, who sings with the Detroit Opera. Bruce Hardcastle, a veteran of many Croswell musicals, including The Scarlet Pimpernel and Carousel, portrays Jefferson. And David Curtis is Franklin.

Blanchard said that Curtis walked into the audition and his looks and behavior made the audition committee throw up its collective hands and ask, How could you use anyone else?

The cast also includes Ryan Buehler as Edward Rutledge, whose song Molasses to Rum is a heart-stopping moment; Joe Dennehy as Richard Henry Lee, who seems like a buffoon but whose powers of persuasion jumpstart the stalled Declaration; Steve Hillard as the stalwart, steady John Hancock; Suzanne Ogden as Abigail Adams, whose loving guidance keeps the bull-headed John on track; and Emily Gifford as Martha Jefferson, the bride from whom Thomas can t bear to be parted.

There are many more in the cast, so many that Blanchard says he often considers himself a traffic cop, just trying to keep people from falling off the stage.

It s difficult rehearsing in different spaces, he said, referring to the fact that his cast had to use other venues while the Croswell was preparing for and presenting Titanic: the Musical. But now that we re finally on our stage, it s coming together really well.

There s plenty of singing and some dancing to keep all ages interested, Blanchard said. And as a bonus, it s a painless history lesson.

The Croswell Opera House opens 1776 at 7 p.m. tomorrow at 129 East Maumee St., Adrian. Other performances are at 8 p.m. Saturday and July 10-12. Matinees are at 3 p.m. Sunday and July 13. Tickets are $25 for adults, $22 for seniors, $20 for students, and $15 for children 12 and younger. Information: 517-264-7469 or

Even as the Huron Playhouse is performing Brigadoon, which runs through Saturday, the cast is rehearsing its second show Agatha Christie s classic mystery, The Mousetrap, opens Tuesday.

The playhouse, the summer theater of Bowling Green State University s department of theater and film, last presented the mystery in 1992, and people have been asking for it ever since, according to artistic director Jann Graham-Glann.

Heather Williams, a BGSU dissertation fellow, is directing, and she attributes the popularity to the way the play is written.

The characters are very eccentric and mysterious. All have little back stories that seem like they could be important to the plot, she said.

The Mousetrap has been running nonstop in London since it premiered in 1952. The action opens not long after World War II on a snowy winter day at Monkswell Manor, a mansion newly converted to a guest house by a young couple, Mollie and Giles Ralston. It s their first day of business, and they are nervous. When their first guest arrives, Mollie gets even more nervous, because he perfectly fits the description of a murderer that she heard about on the radio.

The rest of the guests seem equally strange, and there are plenty of slamming doors and power outages to ramp up the suspense.

The cast comprises Meggan Conti of Akron as Mollie; Jesse Aukeman of Bryon Center, Mich., as Giles; Pete Podolski of Plymouth, Mich., as Christopher Wren; Jennifer Andacht of Oak Creek, Wis., as Mrs. Boyle; Greg Pearson of Jackson, Tenn., as Major Metcalf; Rebecca Maderski of Jacksonville, Fla., as Miss Casewell; Chris Stewart of Bellevue, Neb., as Mr. Paravicini, and Patrick Simone of Stow, Ohio, as Sergeant Trotter.

The show, which is heavy on dialogue, is suitable for all but young children, who may get a little bored with the talking, Williams said.

The Mousetrap opens Tuesday and runs through July 12 in the Huron Playhouse in the McCormick School, 325 Ohio St., Huron, Ohio. Performances are at 8 p.m., and tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for students and seniors, and $9 for children 11 and younger from the playhouse box office. Information: 419-433-4744.

Contact Nanciann Cherry at: or 419-724-6130.

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