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Published: Wednesday, 12/15/2010

Holidays inspire Toledo area shows opening this week

The holidays, of course, provide the theme for several productions opening on area stages this week.

In Monroe, the River Raisin Centre for the Arts will open Irving Berlin's White Christmas Friday, with four more performances throughout the month.

Based on the 1954 movie starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney, the musical revolves around buddies Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, who have a song-and-dance act in the years after World War II. Temporarily out of work, the men are intrigued by a pair of singing sisters and follow them to their latest gig at a lodge in Vermont.

The lodge, which is flirting with failure, just happens to be owned by Bob and Phil's former army commander, and the entertainers decide to help him turn things around.

Directed by Mike Trapp, with musical direction by Mark Felder, the cast includes Denny Connors as Bob, Brian Welch as Phil, Tracy Glover and Carolyn Sohoza as Betty and Judy Haynes, David Wahr as Henry Waverly, Ava Rendina as Susan Waverly, and Holly Sisung as Martha Watson.

Also in the cast are Drew Batton, Chris Berry, Carly Bitz, Dave Broughton, Robert Chester, Craig Cousino, Dale Cousino, Midge Dionne, Maggie Felder, Chuck Hammer, Danielle Kuehnlein, Morgan Lemanski, Michelle McCaffrey, Phyllis McCormick, Julie Merz, Billie Riggs, Daveaux Riggs, Jim Sisung, Chelsea Skorupa, Ed Sohoza, Michelle Sontag, Homer Sterner, and Amy Tennant,

The show features 17 songs by Irving Berlin, including "Blue Skies," "How Deep is the Ocean," and "White Christmas." Singers will be accompanied by a 21-piece orchestra.

"White Christmas" is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 29 and 30 in the River Raisin Centre for the Arts, 114 South Monroe St., Monroe. Tickets are $25 for adults, $22 for seniors, and $15 for children and students. Information: 734-242-7722 or riverraisincentre.org.

Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Van Wert's Niswonger Performing Arts Center.

The professional production by Nebraska Theatre Caravan will weave traditional Christmas carols throughout the classic tale of three ghosts who teach a miser the meaning of Christmas.

Tickets range from $10 to $35. The theater is at 10700 State Rt. 118 South, Van Wert, about 95 miles southwest of Toledo. Information: 419-238-6722.

The newly formed Teen Board of the Caryl Crane Children's Theatre in Huron, Ohio, will present I'm Dreaming of a Broadway Christmas as its inaugural production.

CCCT Artistic Director Brian Marshall will direct 42 singers, dancers, and musicians from 12 school systems in a cabaret-style extravaganza that showcases holiday music from stage and screen.

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday in McBride Auditorium on the campus of BGSU Firelands, 1 University Drive, Huron. Tickets are $5. Information: 419-372-0642 or firelands.bgsu.edu/arts/ccct.

The Sandusky State Theatre has scheduled the Lowes' Christmas Spectacular at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The seven Lowe siblings, who often entertain in Branson, Mo., and Nashville, will blend classical, Broadway, Irish, jazz, bluegrass, and gospel tunes with spectacular dance routines.

Tickets range from $10 to $25 for the show. A dinner and show package is available for $30 to $45. The theater is at 107 Columbus Ave., Sandusky. Information: 419-626-1950 or 877-626-1950.

The Purple Rose Theatre Company in Chelsea, Mich., will put the spotlight on its founder, Jeff Daniels, in a series of Onstage & Unplugged shows beginning Tuesday. Daniels, a Tony and Golden Globe nominee as well as a playwright and a prolific songwriter, will perform an arsenal of his songs both humorous and poignant. There's also likely to be some humor between the tunes.

This is the 10th year for the concert series, which benefits the Purple Rose, which Daniels founded in 1991 in order to produce new American plays and create opportunities for Midwest theater professionals.

Jeff Daniels: Onstage & Unplugged will be at 8 p.m. Tuesday and 3 and 8 p.m. Wednesday with additional shows on Dec. 23, 26, and 28-31. Tickets are $70 except for the New Year's Eve shows, which are $75 (3 p.m.) and $85 (8 p.m.). The Purple Rose Theatre is at 137 Park St., Chelsea, about 70 miles northwest of Toledo. Information: 734-433-7673 or PurpleRoseTheatre.org.

Contact Nanciann Cherry at: ncherry@theblade.com or 419-724-6130.



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