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Published: Thursday, 7/17/2008

Neil Simon comedy in the works in Huron

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The cast of Rumors includes, from left, Julie Berry, Chris Stewart,
Rachel Frady, Ryan Shaw, Britany Koser, Charlie Rasmann,
and, in the foreground, Nicole Hale, and Pete Podolski. The cast of Rumors includes, from left, Julie Berry, Chris Stewart, Rachel Frady, Ryan Shaw, Britany Koser, Charlie Rasmann, and, in the foreground, Nicole Hale, and Pete Podolski.
Enlarge

To celebrate its 60th anniversary season, the Huron Playhouse has looked to Broadway.

"We wanted to do some things with our alums, and one of them, Ron Leibman, was in the original cast of Neil Simon's Rumors there," said Huron artistic director Jann Graham-Glann in a telephone interview.

"We were hoping we could get him to come, but he couldn't make it."

In the best Broadway tradition, the show will go on without him.

Rumors is about an anniversary party at the home of a deputy New York City mayor and his wife. The party never begins because the host has shot himself (only a flesh wound) and his wife is missing.

The deputy mayor's lawyer tries to cover up the problems, but his tale gets more difficult to sustain as guests arrive and no one can remember what's been told to whom.

The guests are Chris and Ken Gorman (Julie Berry of Huron and Chris Stewart of Bellevue, Neb,); Claire and Lenny Ganz (Nicole Renee Hale of Owensboro, Ky., and Pete Podolski of Plymouth, Mich.); Ernie Cookie and Ernie Cusack (Rachel Frady of Mount Vernon, Ohio, and Ryan Shaw of Waukesha, Wis.), and Cassie and Glenn Cooper (Britney Koser of Huron and Charlie Rasmann of Rockford, Ill.). Also featured will be Antwaun Holley of Cleveland as Officer Welch and Meggan Conti of Akron as Officer Pudney

Dennis Seyer of Cape Girardeau, Mo., who designed sets for previous Huron productions, directs Rumors and also serves as scenic designer.

"Rumors" opens Tuesday and runs through July 26 in the Huron Playhouse in 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.

As the University of Findlay continues its SummerStock program this week with Honk!, it's preparing for the finale: Tuesdays with Morrie, which opens Wednesday.

Morrie is a popular piece around these parts. Not only is it a fascinating look at the relationship between two men, it was co-written by Mitch Albom, Detroit columnist and media personality, who many in the region consider a local boy.

But Morrie is one of those plays that's only as good as its cast. If one of the men falters, there's nothing to camouflage the fact.

Scott Hayes, artistic director Findlay SummerStock, isn't worried.

"I saw the production when it was staged at Bradley University in Illinois," he said in a telephone interview. "One of the cast member is a faculty member there."

That would be Steven Snyder, an assistant professor of theater arts. He'll be playing Mitch to Bill Galarno's Morrie. Both are professionals, members of Actors Equity Association.

Hayes called Galarno a "great actor," listing some of his credits as Abe Lincoln in Illinois on Broadway, the national tour of 110 in the Shade, and Elizabeth Rex off-Broadway.

In the play, Albom is driven by his career. Turning to Nightline one night, he is shocked to see his favorite college professor, Morrie Schwartz, who is battling Lou Gehrig's disease. Mitch contacts Morrie, and what starts as one simple visit turns into a weekly pilgrimage and a class in the meaning of life.

"Tuesdays with Morrie" opens at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Grimm Theatre of the Egner Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Findlay, 1000 North Main St., Findlay, about 45 miles south of Toledo. Additional performances are at 8 p.m. July 24 and 25, 2 and 8 p.m. July 26, and 6 p.m. July 27. Tickets are $16. Information: 419-434-5335.

The stage of the Sandusky State Theater becomes home to a group of castaways Saturday when Gilligan's Island: the Musical opens.

The play was written in the early 1990s by Sherwood Schwartz, who created the popular 1960s television show, and his son, Lloyd. They added music and lyrics by Sherwood's daughter, Hope, and her husband, Laurence - he was in Paul McCartney's band Wings - and kept the same theme: a charter boat is blown out to sea by an unexpected storm and wrecks on a tiny island.

Finding themselves marooned together are the good-natured Skipper and his hapless first mate, Gilligan, along with a blustery millionaire and his clueless wife, a movie star, a science teacher, and a nave country girl. They battle quicksand and storms and even manage to save the world without getting off the island.

Thomas Kazmierczak III directs Mike Majer as Gilligan, Toby Whinnery as the Skipper, Frank Swinehart and Tamara Damschroeder as Thurston Howell and his wife, Lovey, Pamela Shirtz as Mary Anne, Cindy Bilby as Ginger, and Rob Abbott as the Professor. Megan Wallace fills in for Ginger or Mary Anne in some performances, and Michael Shirtz is the musical director.

The Sandusky State Theater opens "Gilligan's Island: the Musical" at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at 107 Columbus Ave., Sandusky, about 60 miles east of Toledo. Other 7:30 p.m. performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, and July 26 and 27. Matinees are scheduled at 2 p.m. Sunday and 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. July 24. Tickets are $22 for adults and $11 for students. A dinner theater option is available. Information: 877-626-1950, 419-626-1950, or www.sanduskystate.com.

"Follow the yellow brick road" is the operative words in Archbold this weekend, as the community theater opens The Wizard of Oz.

Brenda Canada of Wauseon directs the L. Frank Baum classic about a girl swept away by a tornado who finds herself in an unknown land filled with talking animals, witches, and a glittering emerald city.

The cast includes Sarah Horner of Napoleon as Dorothy, Seth Nofziger of Archbold as the Scarecrow, Drew Horner of Napoleon as the Tinman, Jaret McDermott of Wauseon as the Cowardly Lion, Kevin Wietrzykowski of Whitehouse as Professor Marvel, Lindsay Snyder of Toledo as the Wicked Witch of the West, and Lynn Lehman of Archbold as Glinda, the good witch.

Archbold Community Theatre presents "The Wizard of Oz" at 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and July 25 and 26 in the auditorium of Archbold High School, 600 Lafayette St., about 50 miles west of Toledo. A matinee is scheduled at 2:30 p.m. July 27. Advance tickets are $11 for adults, $9 for students and seniors. At the door, all tickets are $12. Information: 419-267-5717 from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Contact Nanciann Cherry at: ncherry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6130.


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