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Published: Thursday, 5/10/2012

Comedy chronicles the making of a musical

BY JULIE NJAIM
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Starring in the Village Players’ production of ‘[title of show]’ are, from left, pianist Tom Szor, Laura Crawford, J. Heath Huber, Elizabeth Cottle, and Jake Gordy. Starring in the Village Players’ production of ‘[title of show]’ are, from left, pianist Tom Szor, Laura Crawford, J. Heath Huber, Elizabeth Cottle, and Jake Gordy.
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The Village Players will give a glimpse into the process of writing a musical as it opens [title of show] this weekend on its Upton Avenue stage.

"It's the first time anyone in northwest Ohio has done this production. It is a very new piece. It is a very modern piece. Some people would consider it risky because you have four actors and a piano player on an essentially empty stage," director Tiffany Noel Taylor said.

The 2004 Hunter Bell one-act musical is a "series of scenes pulled together by songs. It plays much more like a rock opera because it's music to music to music," Taylor said. It opened on Broadway in July, 2008, closed after 102 performances, and was nominated for the 2009 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical.

This comedy chronicles the making of a musical where two friends -- Hunter, the writer, played by J. Heath Huber, and Jeff, the composer, played by Jake Gordy -- work with their actors/friends Susan, played by Laura Crawford, and Heidi, played by Elizabeth Cottle.

"Truly, it's a love song to musical theater and everything that came before it. I think it's so powerful to have this empty stage, four actors, four chairs, and a piano player," Taylor said. "The music is the strongest part of show."

Pianist Tom Szor, son of conductor Sam Szor, is the accompanist. He will be on stage the full 90 minutes continually playing the piano. "He has such a beautiful musical heritage. He can step so easily into this show. You have to be a composer and an arranger. Tom brings the ability to handle rock and pop and ballad and traditional musical theater and jazz," she said.

Note: This show contains adult language and mature themes.

"[title of show]" will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday through May 26 at the Village Players, 2740 Upton Ave. Additional performances are at 8 p.m. May 17 and May 24 with a 2 p.m. matinee May 20. Tickets are $16 for adults and $14 for seniors. Information: 419-472-6817 or www.thevillageplayers.org.

Romeo and Juliet

MONTPELIER, Ohio -- The tragic Shakespeare tale of love and death comes to life when the Williams County Community Theater presents Romeo & Juliet this weekend and next.

Star-crossed lovers Romeo, played by Kevin Devers, and Juliet, played by Alyssa Davis, reunite their feuding families after losing their lives for love in this timeless and woeful tale.

"Romeo & Juliet" will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday through May 19 at the Williams County Community Theatre Montpelier Playhouse, 501 S. East Ave., Montpelier, Ohio. Additional performances are at 8 p.m. May 17 and at 2:30 p.m. May 20. Tickets are $11 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $5 for students. Information: 419-636-6400 or williamscountycommunitytheatre.com.

Rat Pack

VAN WERT -- It's a nonstop party Friday when the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio hosts Sandy Hackett's Rat Pack.

This theatrical production includes voiceovers by the late legendary comedian Buddy Hackett and pays tribute to that famous foursome -- Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop, and Dean Martin. Singers will be accompanied by the Toledo Jazz Orchestra.

The Niswonger wraps up its 2011-2012 season Monday with the musical In the Heights. This 2008 Tony Award-winning production journeys into the tight-knit community of Manhattan's Washington Heights, and shows the importance of family and finding where you belong.

"Sandy Hackett's Rat Pack" performance is at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio, 10700 State Rt. 118 South, Van Wert. Tickets are $30. "In the Heights" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Monday. Ticket prices range from $16 to $46. Information: 419-238-6722 or www.npacvw.org.

Leading Ladies

TIFFIN -- Two down-on-their luck actors dress as women to secure an ailing woman's fortune in Leading Ladies, opening Friday at the Ritz Theatre in Tiffin.

This Ken Ludwig comedy follows Jack and Leo, Shakespearean actors performing the Moose Lodge circuit in the Amish country of Pennsylvania. They decide to pass themselves off as the long-lost nieces of a rich New Yorker who is near death. Romance and laughter ensue when Leo falls in love with the elderly woman's biological niece.

"Leading Ladies" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the National Theatre at the Ritz Theatre, 30 S. Washington St., Tiffin. Additional performances are at 7:30 p.m. May 19 and at 2 p.m. May 20. Tickets are $11 for adults and $7 for students. Information: 419-448-8544 or ritztheatre.org.

Send theater items two weeks in advance to jnjaim@theblade.com.



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