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Published: Saturday, 9/18/2010

Theater: Fresh offerings on area's stage menu this season

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A little bit old and a whole lot that's new: That seems to be the theme of the coming theater season in Toledo and the region.

The Village Players, for example, got its season under way last week with "Play On!," a comedy by Rick Abbot. Also on its scheduled are "Flemming," a comedy mystery that's a spoof of the film noir themes of the 1950s and ‘60s; "The Underpants," a comedy adapted by Steve Martin (yes, THAT Steve Martin) from Carl Sternheim's 1911 German farce; "The Rainmaker," N. Richard Nash's dramedy about a plain spinster, a drought, and a confidence man, and "Adrift in Macao," another parody of film noir, this time in a musical format.

In the region, Fremont Community Theatre brackets its season with musicals. The first is new: "Bingo: the Winning Musical" opened Friday and runs weekends through Sept. 26. The finale is a classic: "The Sound of Music." In between are "A Christmas Story," based on the 1983 film inspired by a Jean Shepherd short story; "Leaving Iowa," a comedy about family vacations, and "The Amorous Ambassador," a comedy about the bed-hopping antics of a politician and his family.

Want something more dramatic or new? Look no further than Glacity Theatre Collective, which presents the Ohio premiere of "fig. 1" by Denison University associate professor Mark Evans Bryan. The one-woman show that explores a woman's emotional response to aging features GTC's founding artistic director, Sue Ott Rowlands, now dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech.

"Sue commissioned this play," said Glacity executive director Holly Monsos. "She premiered it in Prague last May, and [our production] will be the U.S. premiere."

Monsos is excited by the play, saying it addresses so many issues, including aging, the choices we make, and the surprises that life brings, some good, some bad.

Also on Glacity's schedule is a reprise of David Sedaris' "The Santaland Diaries," a hilarious antidote to the excessive and often artificial conviviality of Christmas; Sarah Kane's "4.48 Psychosis," which is a conception of a psychotic breakdown; and Eugene O'Neill's "Moon for the Misbegotten."

Seldom-seen productions aren't new to Glacity, she said. "We try to do things that other theaters generally don't."

Imprisonment is the theme for the University of Toledo's theater season. Restrictions both physical and emotional will be explored through such plays as "Twelve Angry Jurors," an updating of the 1954 teleplay "12 Angry Men"; "Labyrinth," by much-honored Spanish playwright Fernando Arrabal; Harold Pinter's "The Hothouse," a satire of bureaucracy, and "The House of Bernarda Alba," Federico Garcia Lorca's tale of five daughters whose eagerness to experience love and life is thwarted by their domineering widowed mother.

The Toledo Rep also tries on some new-to-the-area, more dramatic shows, especially through its EdgyRep Reading series. The series this year grows to five readings: Lee Blessing's "A Body of Water," Jeffrey Hatcher's "Three Viewings," Bert Royal's "Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead," Scott McPherson "Marvin's Room," and Neil LaBute's "The Mercy Seat."

The Rep's MainStage season is a mix of comedy and drama. It opened Friday with the comedy "The Foreigner," about a man who learns a lot of things he isn't meant to; Neil Simon's "Chapter Two," about a midlife romance; the annual production of "A Christmas Carol;" Moss Hart's theatrical comedy "Light Up the Sky"; "Inventing Van Gogh," Steven Dietz's study of creative obsession, and the musical "The Secret Garden."

Theater League, which brings professional national tours of Broadway musicals to the Stranahan Theater, also mixes the old and the new in its current season. Two classics, "A Chorus Line" and "Fiddler on the Roof," open the series, which then segues into three that are new to Toledo: "The Color Purple," "Cirque Dreams Illumination," and "Legally Blonde: The Musical."

The Valentine Theatre's season leans a little more to the classic side, with "Oklahoma," "The Music Man," and "Grease" on the schedule, plus reprises of "Drumline Live!" and Neil Berg's "101 Years of Broadway." "The Diary of Anne Frank" will be presented in an entirely new production.

Whether the shows are old or new, one thing's for certain: There are a lot of them. A rough count shows more than 150 through June.

And with prices ranging from pay-what-you-can at some shows to hefty fees for prime seats at Broadway tours, anyone with a love of live performance is bound to find something that pleases at a price that's affordable.

Theater venues and presenters

ACT: Archbold Community Theatre, Archbold, Ohio. Most shows in Giffey Hall, Ridgeville Corners, Ohio; 419-267-5717; archboldcommunitytheatre.com

BGSU: Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green. Most shows in the Joe E. Brown Theatre in University Hall; bgsu.edu/departments/theatrefilm

BSP: Black Swamp Players, Bowling Green. Most shows in the First United Methodist Church, 1526 East Wooster St.; blackswamp players.org.

Croswell: Croswell Opera House, 129 East Maumee St., Adrian; 517-264-7469; croswell.org

CTW: Children's Theatre Workshop, Collingwood Arts Center, 2417 Collingwood Blvd., Toledo; 419-244-5061; childrenstheaterworkshop.org

Encore: Amil Tellers of Dramatics, Encore Theatre, 991 North Shore Drive, Lima; 419-223-8866 or 800-944-1441; amiltellers.org

Findlay: Fort Findlay Playhouse, 300 West Sandusky St., Findlay; tickets from the Arts Partnership, 419-422-4624; fortfindlayplayhouse.org

Franciscan: Franciscan Theatre & Conference Center of Lourdes College, 6832 Convent Blvd., Sylvania; 419-824-3986; franciscancenter.org

Freed: Freed Center for the Performing Arts at Ohio Northern University, 525 South Main St., Ada, Ohio; 419-772-1900; www.new.onu.edu/freed

Fremont: Fremont Community Theatre, 1551 Dickinson St., Fremont; 419-332-0775; fremontcommunitytheatre.org

Genoa: Genoa Civic Theatre, 509 Main St., Genoa; 419-855-3103; www.genoacivictheatre.org

Glacity: Glacity Theatre Collective, Studio A of the Valentine Theater, 410 Adams St., Toledo; glacity.org

MCP: Monroe Community Players, La-Z-Boy Center at Monroe County Community College, 1555 South Raisinville Rd, Monroe; 734-241-7900.

NPACVW: Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio, 10700 State Rt. 118 South, Van Wert, Ohio; 419-238-6722; npacvw.org

OCT: Oregon Community Theatre. Performances in Fassett Middle School, 3025 Starr Ave., Oregon; 419-691-1398; oregoncommunitytheatre.org

Owens: Owens Community College, 30335 Oregon Rd., Perrysburg; 567-661-2787; www.owens.edu/arts/index.html

RRCA: River Raisin Centre for the Arts, 114 South Monroe St., Monroe; 734-242-7722; riverraisincentre.org

Rep: Toledo Repertoire Theatre, 16 10th St., Toledo; 419-243-9277; toledorep.org

Ritz: Ritz Theatre, 39 South Washington St., Tiffin; 419-448-8544; ritztheatre.org

SST: Sandusky State Theater, 107 Columbus Ave. Sandusky; 419-626-1950; sanduskystate.com

Stranahan: Stranaan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd., Toledo; 419-381-8851; stranahantheater.com

UT: University of Toledo, 2801 West Bancroft St. Most performances are in the Center for Performing Arts, West Towerview Boulevard and West Rocket Drive; 419-530-2375; utoledo.edu/as/theatrefilm

Valentine: Valentine Theatre, 400 North Superior St., Toledo; 419-242-2787; valentinetheatre.com.

VMCCC: Veterans Memorial Civic & Convention Center, 7 Town Square, Lima; 419-224-1552; limaciviccenter.com

VP: Village Players, 2740 Upton Ave., Toledo; 419-472-6817; thevillageplayers.org

WP: Waterville Playshop (performance sites vary). No general phone number; 419-270-1204 is the number for tickets when a play is coming up; watervilleplayshop.org

WCCT: Williams County Community Theatre; shows in the Little Theater, 208 W. Butler St., Bryan, and Playhouse 501 South East Ave. Montpelier, Ohio; 888-569-9228; mywcct.com

Theater calendar

THIS WEEK: The Odd Couple (female version), today (WP at the Grand Rapids, Ohio, Town Hall); Play On, through Saturday (VP); Bingo: The Musical, through Sept. 26 (Fremont); The Curious Savage, through Sept. 26 (BSP); Picnic, through Sept. 26 (Encore); The Foreigner, through Oct. 3 (Rep); fig.1, Friday through Oct. 3 (Glacity); Prelude to a Kiss, Friday through Sept. 26 (Croswell); Anne of Green Gables, Saturday through Oct. 2 (ACT); The Rocky Horror Show, Friday, Saturday (RRCA); Theatre Express 2010, Saturday (Owens).

WEEK OF SEPT. 26: Eurydice, Sept. 30-Oct. 3 (BGSU); The Sunshine Boys, Sept. 30-Oct. 9 (Findlay); The Crucible, Oct. 1-3 (MCP); Come Dance with Me, Oct. 1-3 (Croswell).

OCT. 3: ‘SWonderful, Oct. 7 (VMCCC); Breaking Up is Hard to Do, Oct. 8-17 (Ritz).

OCT. 10: Alice & Wonderland: A Rock Opera, Oct. 10 (Owens); Hamlet, Oct. 13-17 (Freed); Harold and the Purple Crayon, Oct. 14 (Franciscan); Twelve Angry Jurors, Oct. 15-24 (UT); A Midsummer Night's Dream, Oct. 15 (Owens); The Diary of Anne Frank, Oct. 16 (Valentine).

OCT. 17: Me and Mrs. Jones, Oct. 19 (Stranahan); Frindle, Oct. 21 (Ritz); Valentine gala with Alan Menken, Oct. 22 (Valentine); Honk, Oct. 22-24 (Encore); The Taffetas, Oct. 22-31 (WCCT, Bryan); Chicken Heart, Oct. 23, 24 (CTW); A Body of Water, Oct. 23 (an EdgyRep Reading at the Rep's 10th Street stage); Under the Sea, Oct. 23 (Freed children); The Berenstain Bears, Oct. 23 (Valentine).

OCT. 24: The Capitol Steps: Liberal Shop of Horrors, Oct. 24 (Valentine); A Chorus Line, Oct. 28-31 (Stranahan); The Rocky Horror Show, Oct. 29-31 (Croswell); Alfred Hitchcock Radio Dramas, Oct. 29-31 (BSP in the Pemberville Opera House); Frankenstein's Wacky Wedding, Oct. 29-31 (SST); Anthony Zerbe: It's All Done with Mirrors, Oct. 30 (Freed); Rich Little in Jimmy Stewart, Oct. 30 (NPACVW).

OCT. 31: Oklahoma, Nov. 1 (NPACVW); Flemming, Nov. 5-20 (VP); Chapter Two, Nov. 5-21 (Rep); White Christmas, Nov. 5-13 (OCT).

NOV. 7: Duck for President, Fancy Nancy, and Other Story Books Nov. 9 (Franciscan); Labyrinth, Nov. 12-21 (UT); Leading Ladies, Nov 12-14 (Croswell); Shakespeare in Shorts (and other Classic Briefs), Nov. 12-14 (Ritz Teen Thespian Guild); Rented Christmas (a musical), Nov. 12-21 (Genoa).

NOV. 14: Virtually Me, Nov. 15 (Franciscan); Je'Caryous Johnson's Cheaper to Keep Her, Nov. 17 (Strahanan); Almost Maine, Nov. 18-21 (Owens); Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies Christmas, Nov. 20 (SST).

NOV. 21: Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies Christmas, Nov. 23 (NPACVW). The Santaland Diaries, Nov. 26-Dec. 11 (Glacity); A Christmas Carol, Nov. 26-Dec. 5 (Encore).

NOV. 28: The Winter's Tale, Dec. 2-5 (BGSU); Annie, Dec. 2-18 (Findlay); The House that Jack Built, Dec. 2-4 (CTW); Meet Me in St. Louis, Dec. 3-12 (Croswell); The Plight Before Christmas, Dec. 3-12 (ACT); A Christmas Story, Dec. 3-5 (MCP) and Dec. 3-12 (Fremont); A Christmas Carol, Dec. 4, 5 (Rep at the Stranahan); 24-Hour Plays, Dec. 4 (UT); The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Dec. 3, 4 (SST) and Dec. 3-12 (WCCT, Montpelier).

DEC. 5: Oklahoma, Dec. 9, 10 (Valentine); It's A Wonderful Life: Live from WVL Radio Theatre, Dec. 10 (Owens); A Christmas Carol, Dec. 10 (NPACVW).

DEC. 12: Grease, Dec. 14 (VMCCC); White Christmas, Dec. 17-19, 29, and 30 (RRCA).

2011

JAN. 2: The Underpants, Jan. 7-22 (VP); Little Women: The Musical, Jan. 7-17 (Encore); Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, Jan. 8 (Freed children).

JAN. 9: 4:48 Psychosis, Jan. 14-29 (Glacity); Light Up the Sky, Jan. 14-30 (Rep).

JAN. 16: Forever Plaid, Jan. 20 (VMCCC); Leaving Iowa, Jan. 21-30 (Fremont); Murder is Bad, but Mondays Will Kill You, Jan. 21-30 (Genoa); Encyclopedia Brown, Jan. 22 (Valentine).

JAN. 23: Nobodies of Comedy, Jan. 29 (Ritz).

JAN. 30: The Music Man, Jan. 30 (Valentine); Popovich Comedy Pet Theatre, Jan. 30 (NPACVW); Fiddler on the Roof, Feb. 3-6 (Stranahan); Three Viewings, Feb. 5 (an EdgyRep Reading in Studio A at the Valentine Theatre).

FEB. 6: We the People, Feb. 8 (Franciscan); Proof, Feb. 8, 10, 12 (Freed); The Last Five Years, Feb. 9, 11, 13 (Freed); Drumline Live, Feb. 9 (A Valentine Theatre presentation at the Stranahan); I Never Saw Another Butterfly, Feb. 11-13 (Encore); Escanaba in da Moonlight, Feb. 10-19 (Findlay); Willie Wonka, Feb. 11-13 (WP in the Maumee Indoor Theatre, 601 Conant St., Maumee); comedian Mike Toomey, Feb. 12 (Ritz).

FEB. 13: Neil Berg's 101 Years of Broadway, Feb. 14 (Valentine); Riverdance, Feb. 15 and 16 (Stranahan) and Feb. 17 (VMCCC); Bloody Poetry, Feb. 17-20 (BGSU); Annie Get Your Guy, Feb. 18-27 (BSP); Wally's Cafe, Feb. 18-27 (Ritz); Of Mice and Men, Feb. 18-26 (OCT); The Hothouse, Feb. 18-27 (UT); It's Only Life, Feb. 18 (Freed); Late Nite Catechism 3: ‘Til Death Do Us Part, Feb. 19, 20 (Freed).

FEB. 20: Picnic: A Summer Romance, Feb. 25, 26 (CTW).

FEB. 27: Cirque Shanghai: Bai Xi: The Show of a Hundred Wonders, March 1 (NPACVW); There's an Alligator Under My Bed, A Nightmare in the Closet, and Something in My Attic March 3 (Franciscan); Second City: The Fair and Unbalanced Tour, March 4 (Valentine); The Odd Couple, March 4-13 (ACT); Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead, March 5 (an EdgyRep Reading at Owens Community College).

MARCH 6: The Color Purple, March 10-13 (Stranahan); The Rainmaker, March 11-26 (VP); Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, March 11-20 (Encore); The Amorous Ambassador, March 11-20 (Fremont).

MARCH 13: Star Trek Live, March 15, 16 (Franciscan) and March 18 (Freed); Five by Design, March 18 (NPACVW); Giggle, Giggle, Quack, March 18 (Ritz); Anne of Green Gables, March 20 (Owens).

MARCH 20: Very Hungry Caterpillar & Other Eric Carle Favourites, March 23, 24 (Franciscan); Three Cups of Tea, March 23 (Freed); A Little Night Music, March 24-27 (BGSU's Moore Musical Arts Center); Lend Me a Tenor, March 25-April 3 (BSP); The Pirates of Penzance, March 25 (NPACVW); The Lion in Winter, March 25-27 (MCP); Marvin's Room, March 26 (an EdgyRep Reading at the Rep's 10th Street stage).

MARCH 27: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Other Story Books, March 28 (Franciscan); Arsenic and Old Lace, April 1-10 (Genoa); The Water Coolers, April 2 (RRCA); The Mercy Seat, April 2 (an EdgyRep Reading at the Rep's 10th Street stage).

APRIL 3: Grease, April 5, 6 (Valentine); 9th International Play Festival, April 6-10 (Freed); Cirque Dreams: Illumination, April 7-10 (Stranahan); My Heart in a Suitcase, April 7 (Franciscan); Dickens in Ohio, April 7 (Ritz); The Blue Bird of Happiness, April 7-9 (CTW); The House of Bernarda Alba, April 8-17 (UT); Tartuffe, April 8-17 (Owens).

APRIL 10: Church Basement Ladies: Second Helping, April 12 (Stranahan); A Midsummer Night's Dream, April 12 (Franciscan); Bunnicula, April 14-17 (BGSU); 70, Girls, 70, April 15-17 (WP in the Grand Rapids, Ohio, Town Hall); Inventing Van Gogh, April 15-May 1 (Rep); Anne of Green Gables, April 15-17 (Encore).

APRIL 24: Stomp, April 26 and 27 (Stranahan); The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, April 29-May 7 (OCT); Theatre Showcase (student works) April 29, 30 (UT); Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, April 30-May 7 (Ritz).

MAY 1: Oklahoma, May 4-8 (Freed); Legally Blonde: The Musical, May 5-8 (Stranahan); Harvey, May 5-15 (Findlay); Ravenscroft, May 6-15 (BSP); The Sound of Music, May 6-22 (Fremont).

MAY 8: Click Clack Moo, May 11 (Valentine); Adrift in Macao, May 13-28 (VP); Moonlight and Magnolias, May 13-22 (Encore).

MAY 15: The Wizard of Oz, May 20-22 (MCP); Phantom of the Opry: The Musical, May 20, 21 (CTW).

MAY 29: The Secret Garden, June 3-19 (Rep).

JUNE 5: Moon for the Misbegotten, June 10-25 (Glacity).

JULY 3: Little Shop of Horrors, July 8-17 (Ritz).

JULY 10: Annie, July 15-24 (ACT in Archbold High School).

Contact Nanciann Cherry at:

ncherry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6130.



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