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Published: Thursday, 11/22/2012

Shows celebrate the Sixties and the season

BY JULIE NJAIM
BLADE STAFF WRITER

SANDUSKY -- The Sandusky State Theatre is grooving back to the 1960s Saturday with the band the ReBeats and catching the Christmas spirit Sunday with its dinner theater production of We Need A Little Christmas.

The ReBeats will channel some of the great artists from that psychedelic era including the Beatles, the Hollies, the Dave Clark Five, the Monkees, and Herman's Hermits. Its playlist includes "Daydream Believer," "I Saw Her Standing There," "Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," "Eight Days a Week," and "A Must to Avoid." Don't be surprised if you see an Austin Powers look-alike on stage.

Dinner theater patrons will dine while listening to smooth vocals of Raine Austen accompanied by pianist David Strieter Sunday as they present We Need a Little Christmas.

"It is an intimate setting in the State Room. It's a small setting so you get to see a private side of some of my Christmas songs," said Austen during a recent phone interview from her home in the Cleveland area. "Then we get to spend time meeting people in the audience. It's intimate, and I like that."

Austen's prolific concert profile also includes patriotic, Christian, and '40s repertoires.

Her specialty is Christmas, she said. Crooner Nick Costa will share the stage with Austen. "He's like a Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdink, and Elvis, and my style is the Barbra Streisand, Natalie Cole, Karen Carpenter. And I also have a country flair."

A spirited, jazzy version of "Jingle Bells" is her favorite number in this dinner theater production. She will be back at Sandusky State for a larger Mainstage production of Joy! Joy! A Christmas Celebration concert on Dec. 15. Resounding Joy, her Christian choral group, will help ring in the season. A dining option will be available.

Toledo native Lauri Jones-Shepler will sing with Austen.

The ReBeats will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Sandusky State Theatre, 107 Columbus Ave., Sandusky. Tickets prices range from $10 to $20. "We Need a Little Christmas" dinner theater production will be at 4 p.m. Sunday and at 12 p.m. Dec. 12 in the State Room. Dinner and show tickets are $33 for adults and $21 for students. "Joy! Joy! A Christmas Celebration" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15. Dinner and show tickets range from $33 to $49. Show only tickets range from $15 to $31. Doors open 30 minutes prior to show time. Dinner is 90 minutes before show time. Information: 419-626-1950 or www.sanduskystate.com.

Pageant Mayhem

LIMA, Ohio -- Six unruly children who wreak havoc wherever they go will be here this weekend as Amil Tellers of Dramatics presents The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. The Herdmans head for church when they hear there are free snacks. These hooligans are known to steal, to tear things up, and to use force instead of words. They wind up with the leads in the church's Christmas pageant and tell the Christmas Story in their own unconventional way.

This play is based on Barbara Robinson's 1972 book The Worst Kids in the World that sold more than 800,000 copies. The 1983 film version of the same name starred Loretta Swit.

"The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday through Dec. 1 by Amil Tellers of Dramatics in the Encore Theatre, 991 N. Shore Dr., Lima. Matinee performances will be at 2 p.m. Sunday and Dec. 2. Tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $9 for children. Information: 419-223-8866 or amiltellers.org.

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



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