Theater

Black Swamp Players to open three-show season with ‘Clue: The Musical’

From THE BLACK SWAMP PLAYERS The Black Swamp Players will open its fifty-first season with a production of “Clue: The Musical.” Based on the 1949 board game of the same name, “Clue: The Musical” is an interactive theater experience that invites audience participation. Like the board game, “Clue: The Musical” concerns the murder of Mr. Boddy and features all of the colorful characters made famous by Parker Brothers, including Colonel Mustard, Miss Scarlet, Professor Plum, Mrs. Peacock, Mr. Green, and Mrs. White. But the musical also allows audience members to randomly select cards that will determine which suspect committed the murder, which weapon was used, and where the murder took place. The show has 216 possible endings. The production will be directed by Melissa Shaffer. Open auditions for the production will be held on the following dates: Sunday, August 12 from 3-5 p.m.; Tuesday, August 14 from 7-9 p.m.; and Saturday August 18 from 10 a.m. to noon. The script calls for a cast of five men and three women of various ages. All auditions will be held at the First United Methodist Church on East Wooster Street in Bowling Green. Those who want to audition should prepare a two-minute song excerpt and should expect to cold read from the script. “Clue: The Musical”will open on Friday, November 9 at 7:30 p.m. Additional performance dates include: Saturday, November 10 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, November 16 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, November 17 at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, November 11 and 18 at 2 p.m.. Both Saturday evening performances will be preceded by a dinner, beginning at 6 p.m., that will benefit the First United Methodist Church. Tickets for the Friday and Sunday performances are $15/adults, $12/seniors and students. Tickets for the Saturday “Dinner and a Show” performances are $25/person and must be purchased one week or more prior to the show. All tickets can be purchased on the organization’s website. Clue: The Musical is the first of three productions to be mounted by The Black Swamp Players for its 2018-2019 season. Clue will be followed by a production of Meredith Wilson’s 1957 Tony-Award-winning musical, The Music Man, which will be performed at the First United Methodist Church in February 2019. Auditions for The Music Man will be held in November. The Players will close their 51st season with the world premiere of an original play by local F. Scott Regan, titled Peanuts and Crackerjacks. Regan’s play will be performed in April/May 2019. Black Swamp Players is nonprofit corporation that exists to provide opportunities for area residents to experience…

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‘Dr. G.’ carries King’s message with edgy topics on stage

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Dr. JoBeth Gonzalez uses the stage to allow students to address touchy issues. It is there that they find a voice on difficult topics like human trafficking, suicide and racism. On Friday, Gonzalez was given the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major for Peace Award by the Bowling Green Human Relations Commission. The program, in the library atrium, reminded people through words and song that “the journey is not over, the struggle is not done.” In accepting the award, Gonzalez thanked the commission for being a microphone for such issues, and Bowling Green High School for allowing her to explore edgy topics. She also thanked her husband, Al Gonzalez, for challenging her to think with depth and breadth, and her drama students at BGHS. “Good leaders are good listeners, and I’ve learned to listen to my students on the topics that are important to them.” “I accept this award humbly on behalf of, and because of, my students,” said Gonzalez, who is known to students and fellow staff as Dr. G. The Drum Major for Peace Award is given annually to highlight significant efforts by people who further the betterment of human relations in the Bowling Green community by actively promoting justice, peace, and respect. The spirit of this award is captured in King’s “Drum Major” sermon, in which he encouraged his congregation to seek greatness, but to do so through service and love. Gonzalez is accustomed to accolades, having earned national and state recognition for her work with youth theater. In fact, she is recognized as a leader in her field, explained Jennifer Dever, a fellow BGHS teacher and a member of the human relations commission. Theater education has benefitted from Gonzalez’s contributions. However, closer to home, the community has benefited even more, Dever said. “Dr. G’s positive impact on our community has inspired our community’s students — students of all backgrounds and abilities — to honestly look at their world and have the difficult conversations necessary to affect positive change,” Dever said. Gonzalez has said, “Drama may be the most successful portal for creating a safe space for honest dialogue among young people.” Her work reflects this, Dever said. In each production and class, she encourages students to explore social issues and share their new-found awareness. “After all, how better can we create lasting empathy for all than to nurture it in our youngest citizens,” Dever said. One example of that encapsulates Gonzalez’s work is the Social Issues Theater class she began teaching 12…


Show will go on for Black Swamp Players

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Black Swamp Players Board of Trustees voted Wednesday night (April 25) to stage a 51st season, reversing an earlier decision to suspend operations.. Earlier this year, the Players announced it was suspending productions because of lack of personnel to help stage shows. Lane Hakel, president of the Players board stated the earlier decision “was reversed last night due to an influx of enthusiastic, energetic people who have stepped forward to join together to revitalize the Players.” Hakel said details of what shows will be produced next season are not settled. “We do know that they will likely be in November, February, and April.  We also have several experienced and talented directors that have offered to take on a show.” The directors will select the shows they wish to stage. In announcing the suspension in February, Hakel said that it was a lack of technical help that was really hindering its operations. But after press coverage, including a letter published by long time Player Bob Hastings, people began to step forward. “We are really excited by the infusion of talent and energy that we have received and hope to continue performing quality live theater for the residents of Bowling Green and Northwest Ohio for another 50 years,” Hakel said an e-mail Thursday morning. Later in an interview, he said two dozen people have stepped forward to help. The board he noted has been short a vice president and five board members. In the upcoming elections, there will be contested seats for the 14-member board. Hakel said he is running for another term as president. Many of those who have come forward are new to the troupe. A few former board members have also returned. That includes Tom Milbrodt, a stalwart who saw the troupe through rough patches in the past, and has continued to do lights and sound for productions. When it suspended productions, the board was also suspending its fundraising for a new home. Since 2000, the Players’ home has been in the fellowship hall at First United Methodist Church. While grateful for the church’s generosity, the space has limitations, both physical and operationally. The troupe for example cannot sell 50-50 raffle tickets or alcohol. Those are ways of raising funds that other theater use. Hakel still believes for the troupe to reverse its decline in audience finding a new space is essential. “There are a couple intriguing possibilities that the new board is investigating for a permanent location.” One would involved sharing a space with a business. The…


BGSU Arts Events through April 29

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS At  the galleries  — The School of Art will host its second MFA Thesis Exhibition April 21-29 in the Dorothy Uber Bryan and Willard Wankelman galleries in the Fine Arts Center. The opening reception is at 7 p.m. Friday, April 20. Exhibitors include Fernanda Ruocco, Jacob Nolt and Ericsson De La Paz Lugo. Gallery hours are 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 6-9 p.m. Thursday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday. All exhibitions are free and open to the public. The galleries are wheelchair accessible with the exception of the upper level of the Wankelman Gallery. For more information, visit bgsu.edu/art. April 19 — The International Film Series presents “Dear Pyongyang” (2005, Japan/South Korea, 107 minutes, directed by Yang Hong-Hi), with an introduction by Dr. Ryoko Okamura from the Department of World Languages and Cultures. Filmed in both Osaka, Japan, and Pyongyang, North Korea, in 2004, this deeply moving and intimate documentary features Zainichi (North) Korean immigrants living in Japan and their complex allegiances to family, host country, and their “fatherland.” A daughter interviews her parents as they return to Pyongyang to celebrate her father’s 70th birthday with her brothers. The screening will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Gish Film Theater, located in Hanna Hall. Free April 19-22 — The BGSU Theatre Department presents “The Threepenny Opera,” Bertolt Brecht’s “play with music.” Brecht turned John Gay’s 18th century “The Beggar’s Opera” into a biting commentary on the bourgeoisie and modern morality. Set in Victorian London, this tale of the outlaw Mack the Knife offers a socialist critique of a capitalist world. Advance tickets are $5 for BGSU students and $15 for other adults; all tickets the day of the concert are $20. Tickets can also be purchased at bgsu.edu/arts. For more information, call the box office between noon and 5 p.m. weekdays at 419-372-8171. The show opens at 8 p.m. in the Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre at the Wolfe Center for the Arts. Additional performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. on April 20 and 21, and 2 p.m. on April 21 and 22. See review. April 20 — The International Film Series presents “La Pirogue (The Dugout)” (2012, Senegal, 87 minutes, directed by Moussa Touré), with an introduction by Dr. Beatrice Guenther, International Studies program director. In this film, a group of African men leave Senegal in a pirogue captained by a local fisherman to undertake the treacherous crossing of the Atlantic to Spain where they believe better lives and prospects are waiting for them. The screening will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Gish Film Theatre, located in Hanna Hall. Free April 20 — The Concert Band and University…


Bawdy “Threepenny Opera” takes the low & highly entertaining road

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Shakespeare for Dummies teaches that certain comic and bawdy bits in the Bard’s plays were written to appeal to the groundlings crowded at edge of the stage. “The Threepenny Opera,” though bearing an elite pedigree as the brainchild of theatrical provocateur Bertolt Brecht and composer Kurt Weill, is written through and through for the groundlings. This is bawdy, often crude by design, in-your-face entertainment meant to please those in the cheap seats. All of Bowling Green State University’s Donnell Theatre becomes the cheap sections when the Department of Theatre and Film presents “Threepenny Opera” opening tonight (April 19) and continuing through Sunday, April 22.  Shows are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8p.m., with matinees Saturday & Sunday at 2 p.m. Visit for details  bgsu.edu/arts. Jonathan Chambers, directing Michael Feingold’s translation of Elisabeth Hauptmann’s script, doesn’t stint on the raw humor of the piece. Yes, “Threepenny” has complex political and aesthetic underpinnings, but the flashing of women’s underwear and even one actor’s bare butt take precedence. “Threepenny Opera” was conceived a satirical criticism of capitalism and the middle class. The milieu of the show is the underworld, but it’s all the underworld in the opera’s view.  After the ensemble led by Jenny Driver (Erica Harmon) introduces us to the opera’s antihero, Macheath (Kris Krotzer)  with the tune, “Mack the Knife,”, we meet  J.J. Peachum (Noah Froelich) who runs the beggars’  racket around London. If you want to beg you have to pay him a fee and share your earnings. One down-on-his-luck sucker finds this out when he is beaten by Peachum’s operatives. Peachum tells him he should be glad he could still walk. In “Peachum’s Morning Hymn,” Peachum laments that begging requires constant innovation. Human pity has a short shelve life. Even the four or five useful verses from the New Testament lose their appeal. He and his wife the grasping, conniving Mrs. Peachum (Kelly Dunn) have other concerns – their daughter Polly (Anna Parchem) has been cavorting with the thug Macheath, a Victorian Tony Soprano. To them their daughter is yet another commodity. But as Polly explains in “Barbara’s Song” she’s likely to go only so far with a respectable suitor, but will drop her panties for a poor, disreputable man. Her father, though, is intent on having Macheath arrested. The problem is the chief of police Tiger Brown (Jabri Johnson) is an old Army buddy of Macheath’s. They celebrate in “Soldier’s Song,” a caustic look at the military. Here as elsewhere the production plays up a homoerotic undertone….


Black Swamp Players bask in the glow of ‘On Golden Pond’

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Please note: It is summer on Golden Pond. The loons are calling, and the black flies hatching. Norman and Ethel Thayer have returned for their 48th year to summer on this idyllic lake in rural Maine. Ethel is elated to be there. To spend another summer wiling way the time picking berries, lolling by the lake, and playing board games in the evening. Unfortunately Norman’s mood is far from sunny. It better matches the kind of weather we’ve been experiencing hereabouts lately. His idea for conversation is pondering self-cremation in the fireplace, albeit immolation with style as he does a back flip into the flames. The Black Swamp Players, who at 50 have been a going concern two years longer than the Thayers’ marriage, are staging Ernest Thompson’s “On Golden Pond,” to conclude their own golden anniversary season. The show opens Friday, April 20, and runs weekends through Sunday, April 29 at the First United Methodist Church, 1526 E. Wooster St., Bowling Green. Click for further details. http://www.blackswampplayers.org/ While Norman (Bob Welly) contemplates his demise, Ethel (Fran Martone) is in denial. She insists they are still middle-age, maybe “the far-edge of middle age.” This is the summer Norman turns 80. Ethel is 10 years younger. Welly and Martone make for a fine couple. They exude a bond even when they are bickering. Their relationship still has flickers of the young, romantic spark that refuses to be extinguished. Norman’s concerns are not imaginary. He suffers from memory loss and heart palpitations, the typical theatrical maladies of old age. These are played for laughs, and as someone just on the near edge of aging, there’s plenty of laughter from self-recognition. When he goes out, really sent out by a frustrated Ethel, to pick strawberries, he becomes confused. He returns, his bluster gone. He just wants to be back with Ethel, and the safety of her presence. Ethel would like the presence of their daughter Chelsea (Stephanie King Truman), who hasn’t been back to the pond for eight years. If not for her mother, she’d be estranged from her father. She was never the son he wanted, nor the daughter really. She never had children. Norman asks Ethel if she ever had that talk with her. Or maybe he should have had that talk with her ex-husband. Though when pressed, he can’t imagine much they’d do with a grandchild. This is the summer that Chelsea returns with her latest boyfriend, Bill Ray (Thomas Edge), a dentist. They arrive on their way to Europe with…


BGHS Drama Club to stage original mime production

Submitted by BGHS DRAMA CLUB Bowling Green High School Drama Club explores a unique art form in their upcoming production NAME: (You Are Mistaken – I am Identity). The production is an original piece created by the students and performed through poetic movement – in other words, crafted through the technique of pure mime. The cast of eleven has been learning about the art form in workshop intensives led by professional mime artist Mr. Michael Lee, who received training from world-famous mime Marcel Marceau. Students have devised original performance pieces rooted in personal experience that stem from the themes of names and identity. Integrated among the students’ performances are demonstrations by Mr. Lee, who will explain the notable skills of the art form. Performances are Thursday and Friday at 7:00 PM in the Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $5.00 for students and $7.00 for adults. Student performers are Kalista Beair, Sophia Bird, Ethan Brown, Megan Carmen, Megan Clifford, Maddy Depinet, Fran Flores, Elaine Hudson, Hudson Pendleton, Charlotte Perez, and Olivia Strang. Drama Club advisor Dr. Jo Beth Gonzalez co-directs the collaborative project with Mr. Lee.