Village Players take on ups, downs of family

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    Andrew Packard and Marissa Rex during a rehearsal of "Things My Mother Taught Me" Sunday, September 2, 2018, at the Village Players Theatre in Toledo, Ohio.

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  • Things My Mother Taught Me, by Katherine DiSavino, opens the Village Players Theatre’s 62nd season.

    The romantic comedy centers on a young couple, Olivia and Gabe, who are moving into a new apartment, and getting advice from two sets of parents who mean well but sometimes don’t know when to quit.

    “When I first read the script it reminded me of one of my favorite Neil Simon plays, Barefoot in the Park,” director David Nelms said. “It also has the feel of the sitcom Mad About You, I guess it was how it is filled with humor, but has a heart to it.”

    “You can bring your 11-year-old granddaughter and your 75-year-old mother to Things My Mother Taught Me; it’s cross-generational,” said Barbara Barkan, the new president of the Village Players board of directors. “I don’t think there will be anybody in the audience — no matter what your relationship with your mother is — who doesn’t have a story to tell about what they learned from their mother.”

    Performances of Things My Mother Taught Me are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Village Players Theatre, 2740 Upton Ave. Additional shows are at 8 p.m. Sept. 13-15. Tickets — $20 general admission, $18 seniors and students — are available from 419-472-6817 and

    The cast includes Marissa Rex as Olivia; Andrew Packard as Gabe; Suzanne Jennens as Karen, Olivia’s mother; John Jennens as Carter, Olivia’s father; Carol Ann Erford as Lydia, Gabe’s mother; Lane Hakel as Gabe’s father, Wyatt, and Tom Hofbauer as Max, the building super.

    Next up in the Village Players 2018-2019 season is The Undeniable Sound of Right Now, by Laura Eason.

    The story follows an aging musician, a 1960s rocker, who now has to find a way to relate to the new sounds and the new music of today, Barkan said. “It deals with accepting new thoughts and new ideas — a new play giving new ways to look at things.”

    Performances will be Nov. 9-17; Jeffrey Albright will direct.

    Dancing Lessons, a play by Mark St. Germain, who also wrote Becoming Dr. Ruth and Freud’s Last Session, opens the new year with performances Jan. 11-19 

    “It’s just an incredible piece that deals with a young man, Evan Montgomery, on the autism spectrum with highly functioning Asperger’s syndrome,” said Barkan, who will direct.

    The play has two characters, Montgomery, a young science professor, and Senga Quinn, a dancer who is centered on her career. They live in the same New York apartment building but meet when he asks her to teach him some moves he can use at a dinner dance.

    “We’re going to reach out to the Autism Society of Northwest Ohio about partnering with them to provide a workshop or perhaps a talk-back after performances,” Barkan said. 

    The Village Players will stage a classic play first performed in 1895, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest,  March 15-23, directed by Nancy Wright

    The comedy centers on two friends who occasionally escape the constraints of Victorian society by leading double lives under the name Ernest, until problems arise.

    Closing the  2018-2019 Mainstage season is the musical Assassins, a work that explores nine people who assassinated or tried to assassinate U.S. presidents. The individuals, including John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Squeaky Fromme, meet on stage. The work has music by Stephen Sondheim and book by John Weidman. Performances will be May 10-18, directed by Bill Quinlan.

    Reading series

    The Village Players also will present two plays in concert readings as part of its Ghost Light Reader’s Theatre.

    The first, Camping With Henry and Tom, centers on a camping retreat Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and President Warren G. Harding took in 1921; what they couldn’t escape was each other. The play was inspired by an actual event: Between 1915 and 1924, Ford, Edison, Harvey Firestone, and John Burroughs, calling themselves the Four Vagabonds, embarked on a series of summer camping trips, according to the Henry Ford Museum. 

    Camping With Henry & Tom, by Mark St. Germain, will be presented Oct. 13 and directed by Kate Argow

    In the drama I and You, by Lauren Gunderson, two teenagers — Caroline, who can’t attend school because of an illness, and Anthony, who comes to help her with an English teacher’s homework assignment of a Walt Whitman poem — find each other. Gunderson’s play Silent Sky was presented earlier this year at the Valentine Theatre’s Studio A.

    The reading, presented April 13, will be directed by Barkan. Tickets for Ghost Light Reader’s Theatre, $20, are general admission. Concert readings have limited staging and technical aspects of the performance, the Village Players website notes.

    Contact Sue Brickey at: