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Published: Saturday, 1/30/2010

Toledo premieres: 'Legally Blonde,' 'Color Purple' to play the Stranahan

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

From a village in tsarist Russia to the classrooms of Harvard, musical drama to musical comedy, Theater League plans to take its audiences on several journeys in the 2010-11 Lincoln Mercury Broadway series at the Stranahan Theater.

Even as it prepares for the final shows of the 2009-10 season - The Rat Pack is Back on Feb. 25-28 and Wicked March 31-April 18 - the Kansas City-based performing arts organization, which brings Broadway tours to the Stranahan, is looking to the future.

Starting in October, the Stranahan will host the classics A Chorus Line and Fiddler on the Roof and Toledo premieres of The Color Purple, Cirque Dreams Illumination, and Legally Blonde.

Ticket packages, which start at $85, will go on sale May 24. Tickets for individual shows will go on sale this summer, according to Ward Whiting, executive director of the Stranahan.

"I think it's a very good mix of repeat shows and some new things," Whiting said about the new season. "We all wanted Jersey Boys desperately but just couldn't get it to fit the schedule. We're really targeting it for the 2011-12 season."

The season opens with the national tour of A Chorus Line, running Oct. 28-31. The Pulitzer Prize-winning musical about 17 singers and dancers who bare their souls during auditions for a Broadway show originally opened on Broadway in 1975 and ran into 1990 with 6,137 performances, a record at the time. It won 10 Tony Awards. A 2006 revival ran for two years and had two Tony nominations.

The series takes a break over the holidays and returns Feb. 3-6, 2011, with Fiddler on the Roof. A staple of theatres from the high school to the professional levels, Fiddler is the tale of Tevye, a poor Jewish milkman with a large family who struggles to maintain his traditions as the early-20th century world around him is changing. The original show ran from 1964 to 1972 on Broadway, earning 10 Tony Awards, and four revivals earned more accolades. A host of big-name musical actors, including Zero Mostel, Herschel Bernardi, Topol, and Harvey Fierstein, have played Tevye, and the show gave the world such songs as "Sunrise, Sunset," "If I Were a Rich Man," and "Matchmaker, Matchmaker."

The Toledo premiere of A Color Purple runs March 10-13, 2011. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker and the Academy Award-winning film by Steven Spielberg, the story, set in the 1930s, revolves around Celie, a young black woman who suffers rape and other abuse before finding, with the help of other women, a sense of self-worth and the strength to triumph over adversity. The Tony and Grammy-nominated production features a score infused with blues, jazz, pop, and gospel music. Whiting characterized the show as "very intense, but very good."

Cirque Dreams Illumination runs April 7-10, 2011. From the creators of Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy, which played Toledo in 2008, this new incarnation will feature the same types of mind-boggling acrobatics and dazzling costumes as it creates a city that can only exist in the imagination. Jungle Fantasy was a very popular show last year, Whiting said, and he expects Illumination to have the same appeal.

The season will end with smiles as sorority girl Elle Woods sets out to win the hearts of audiences in Legally Blonde. Based on the hit 2001 film starring Reese Witherspoon, the show follows the fashionista as she loses her boyfriend, Warner, to Harvard Law School and a more-serious woman. Determined to prove she's more than a ditzy blonde, Elle gets accepted to Harvard Law as well and sets about recapturing Warner's heart with her own inimitable sense of style.

Information on Theater League's season is available from theaterleague.com. Information on season tickets is available from the Stranahan box office, 419-381-8851.

Contact Nanciann Cherry at: ncherry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6130.



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