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Published: Thursday, 5/13/2010

Rep plans 6 plays, 5 readings in 2010-11

From Neil Simon to Neil LaBute, Moss Hart to Lee Blessing, the Toledo Repertoire Theater will offer a theatrical panorama for its 2010-11 season, labeled "Life, Light, Love, and Laughter!"

The Mainstage season features six fully staged productions with appropriate sets, costumes, and props. The EdgyRep Readings continue to be popular, with four slated instead of the usual three. And a special production in the EdgyRep style is designed with health-care professionals in mind. Except as noted, all productions will be in the theater at 16 10th St.

"We're dipping pretty solidly into the classics of American theater," said Lee Krahenbuhl, the Rep's artistic director, even though the choices might not be obvious at first glance.

The Mainstage season opens Sept. 17 with Larry Shue's The Foreigner, which Krahenbuhl characterized as a staple of community theaters. The comedy centers on Charlie, a socially inept young man who pretends he can't understand English to keep guests at a resort from bothering him. The ruse helps Charlie maintain his privacy, but it makes everyone else's foibles public as they speak freely in front of him because he supposedly can't understand what they're saying. Directed by F. Scott Regan, the production will run through Oct. 3.

Jeffrey Albright will direct the second show of the season: Neil Simon's Chapter Two, a gentle comedy about a widower and a divorcee who fall in love later in life. It will run from Nov. 5 through Nov. 21.

It wouldn't be Christmas in Toledo without the Rep's production of A Christmas Carol. The musical based on the story by Charles Dickens will be presented Dec. 4 and 5 in the Stranahan Theater with Debra Calabrese again directing.

Moss Hart's Light Up the Sky opens the new year with productions scheduled from Jan. 14-30. Glacity Theatre Collective's David DeChristopher will direct the comedy about a Broadway show that's expected to be a flop but isn't.

Art and mystery will combine in Inventing Van Gogh, scheduled April 15-May 1. Barbara Barkan directs a tale of an art forger, a mad genius, and the fine lines that separate truth and myth, reality and illusion.

"We're very pleased to introduce Steven Dietz's drama to Toledo," Krahenbuhl said. "We chose it because of the city's strong feelings for its magnificent art museum."

In keeping with another tradition, the Mainstage Season will end with a musical. For 2011, it will be The Secret Garden, based on the 1909 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Marsha Norman wrote the book and lyrics and Lucy Simon (Carly's sister) wrote the music for the Tony Award-winning show that ran for nearly two years on Broadway. Matthew Bowland will direct the production from June 3-19.

The EdgyRep Readings are much more minimalist shows, with cast members generally sitting on chairs and reading from scripts. A few props might be employed, if they're easy and enhance the situations, but the focus remains on the words. The readings are designed to introduce local theatergoers to interesting works that are outside the mainstream, whether that's because of theme, language, or a more limited appeal.

"EdgyRep has been getting more and more popular," Krahenbuhl said. "It's one of the real successful brainchildren of the Rep," in part because the low ticket price ($10) allows for an economical evening out.

The EdgyRep schedule comprises Lee Blessing's A Body of Water on Oct. 23; Jeffrey Hatcher's Three Viewings on Feb. 5, in a venue to be determined; Bert Royal's Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead on March 5 at Owens Community College, and Neil LaBute's The Mercy Seat on April 2.

Also part of the season is Scott McPherson's Marvin's Room on March 26. The play about a caregiver, her ailing father, and her odd family is being presented in cooperation with Mercy College of Northwest Ohio and offers continuing education units to eligible health-care professionals.

Ticket prices range from $10 for the readings to $25 for A Christmas Carol. Packages are also available for three, four, and all five Mainstage shows. A $150 package will provide access to all 11 shows the Rep is presenting in the 2010-11 season. Information: 419-243-9277.

Nanciann Cherry



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