Theater

‘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 years ago, Dever explained. Each class selects a social issue that will be the focus of their research, writing, and performing. The success of this class spreads beyond the classroom into the community. One class chose to focus their research on the issue of human trafficking, later resulting in the creation of the Human Trafficking Awareness Troupe. Senior Elaine Hudson, a member of the Human Trafficking Awareness Troupe, said students gained valuable insight into the human trafficking that happens not only in foreign countries, but also right here in Northwest Ohio. Gonzalez promotes justice, peace and respect through the Drama Club, which has produced plays that explore other social issues, such as suicide, racism, the immigrant experience, and intersecting identities. Gonzalez was credited for creating…


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 50 for 50 campaign, which was raise $50,000 in the Players’ 50th anniversary, has $23,000 in pledges and donations. Elections for officers and trustee will occur at the Players’ annual banquet and membership meeting. Also, the next season’s offerings will be announced. “Rather than a sad occasion,” Hakel stated, “our annual Swampy Banquet and General Membership Meeting to be held on Wednesday, May 16,  at Bowling Green Country Club will be a happy one. “


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 Band will give a performance. Advance tickets are $7 for students and $10 for other adults; tickets the day of the concert are, respectively, $10 and $13. 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 performance will begin at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall, located in the Moore Musical Arts Center. April 21 — Guest artist Brendan Ige will give a euphonium master class. Ige’s performance experiences range from performing orchestral music to playing the sousaphone in a roving “beach band” at Cedar Point. He has performed with the Toledo Symphony, the Perrysburg Symphony, and the University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra. The master class will begin at 9 a.m. in the Marjorie E. Conrad, M.D. Choral Room, located in…


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. Johnson’s Brown watches out for Macheath, not just out of Army buddy loyalty. As much as Macheath pledges to be faithful to Polly, he’s a wandering dog and that leads to his downfall. He leaves a trail of jealousy in his wake especially between Jenny Driver and the police chief’s daughter Lucy Brown (Anne Koziara), who also claims to be married to Macheath. All this is played out in series of scathing musical numbers. Dunn’s Mrs. Peachum smugly dissects Macheath’s dilemma in “Ballad of the Prisoner of Sex.” As Polly, Parchem gets the choice set piece, “Pirate Jenny” about a hotel maid who gets her revenge on those who look down on her. Weill employs echoes of traditional ballads with modernistic harmonies that waver and…


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 Bill’s son Billy Jr. (Gavin Miller) in tow. Edge has one big scene where he faces off with Norman, who is disinclined to engage in any kind of conversation. Having failed to establish rapport, Bill must awkwardly broach the subject of sleeping arrangements for him and Chelsea. Norman pounces on his uncertainly, pushing the conversation into queries about sex, and whether that’s appropriate. We never really know if Norman cares or not about whether they sleep together. But it is clear he cares about keeping Bill off-balance and at a distance. Bill stands up for himself in a monologue flecked with the psychobabble of the 1970s. His son Billy’s slang also smacks of the 1970s. Miller is convincing as a “Valley boy,” convincing in a…


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.


Festival of Shorts brings out the best in Horizon Youth Theatre

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Those who want to know what the Horizon Youth Theatre is all about need only make their way to the Otsego Elementary School this weekend. The youth troupe is staging its annual Festival of Shorts Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Everything is the work of the kids, 7-17. They wrote the scripts and act them out, and with one exception students are directing. This is where Horizon’s mission to educate young people in all aspects of theater shines. The goal, said Cassie Greenlee, artistic director of the troupe, is for students to learn “about every step of what’s required to put on theatre.” “What I love about this year is that for the first time every single thing was created by students. That’s really impressive and something that I’m really proud of. It’s more for them to hang their hats on.” The program includes six plays, four written by students and the fifth created collaboratively by youngsters in the Devising Class taught by Keith Guion, who directs. Four of the plays will be staged during each performance. Admission is free, but donations are requested. Scarlet Frishman, a 17-year-old junior from the Toledo School for the Arts, and Terra Sloane, a 15-year-old freshman from Bowling Green High, are among the student directors. This is Frishman’s third time directing. “I wanted to direct in the first place because of the biggest influence in my life outside of my immediate family has been Cassie Greenlee.” They first worked together in 2009, when both were new to the company. “Who I am as a person is completely different because of who she is,” Frishman said, “and I really want to be that influence on another young person’s life because it was extremely valuable for me.” She’s set her sights on studying theatre at Yale University. Sloane has also directed before. “It helps me as an actor,” she said of directing. “I see so much more now because I’ve been a director. It helps me perform better.” She’s also looking to studying education and theatre. “I love working with children. I love seeing things come together.” The scripts were written last fall as part of an HYT program. The 10 plays then were reviewed by Greenlee and a couple other adults for originality and how feasible they were to be staged. The young directors got the most say, though, said Greenlee.  They were given the scripts and asked to rank them in order of how interested they were in directing them. Sloane and Frishman each selected the same play, “Mountains” by Sophi Hachtel and Anne Weaver, as their top choice. “The thing we really liked about it,” Frishman said, “is the message is beautiful and something young kids need to hear. It deals with bullying and schools and anxiety. The main character Audrey has a physical representation of her anxiety on stage with her the whole time.” Selecting wasn’t easy, though. All the scripts were “fantastic,” she said, and they would have been happy to direct any of their top three choices. Sloane is also one of the playwrights. This festival will include her “Poppy Meadow,” written with Alexandra Roberts-Zibbel. This is the fourth script she has written. Roberts-Zibbel said the play was inspired by…


BGSU to stage ‘Threepenny Opera,’ ‘darkly comic story of crime, sex, marriage, corruption and betrayal’

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University’s Department of Theatre and Film will present Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s landmark musical, “The Threepenny Opera” in the Thomas B. And Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre at the Wolfe Center for the Arts for one weekend only, April 19-22. Written in 1928 and based on John Gay’s “The Beggar’s Opera,” “The Threepenny Opera” tells a darkly comic story of crime, sex, marriage, corruption and betrayal – all revolving around notorious gangster Mack the Knife. When Mack pairs up with Polly Peachum, heir to the city’s largest syndicate of deceitful beggars, his plans for cashing in on the queen’s coronation day go awry. Mack has friends in high places – but will they be able to protect him from his bitter enemies? Known for its influence on later musicals like Kander and Ebb’s “Cabaret,” Brecht and Weill’s biting tale of beggars, whores and thieves is frequently revived for new audiences around the world.  Weill’s celebrated score includes such standards as “Mack the Knife” and “Pirate Jenny.” BGSU Professor Jonathan Chambers directs the production, which features a cast of more than 20 BGSU students. Scenic Designer and Properties Master Kelly Mangan and Costume Designer Margaret McCubbin infuse the production with a punk-and-junk aesthetic, while College of Arts and Sciences Associate Dean Marcus Sherrell brings the action to life with a dynamic lighting design. The cast includes Kris Krotzer as Mack the Knife, Anna Parchem as Polly Peachum, Kelly Dunn and Noah Froelich as her parents, Erica Harmon as Jenny, and Jabri Johnson and Anne Koziara as Tiger Brown and his daughter Lucy. Jillian Fournier serves as stage manager, assisted by Paige Dooley. This performance is funded in part by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music Inc., New York, New York. The production includes strong language, violent and adult situations, and brief nudity. Performances are at 8 p.m. April 19-21 and at 2 p.m. April 21 and 22. Tickets purchased in advance are $5 for students, $10 for seniors, and $15 for other adults. All tickets are $20 if purchased on the day of performance. Tickets can be purchased through the BGSU Arts Box Office in the Wolfe Center, online at bgsu.edu/arts, or by calling 419-372-8171.


BGSU Arts Events through April 24

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS April 6 — Academy Award-winning actress Eva Marie Saint will attend a special showing of “The Trip to Bountiful,” the 1953 television production she starred in with Lillian Gish, at 7:30 p.m. in the Gish Film Theater at BGSU’s Hanna Hall. Gish and Saint reprised their roles on Broadway the following year, earning Saint the Drama Critics Award and the Outer-Circle Critics Award. Following the screening, Saint, a BGSU alumna, will discuss her career and her work with Gish. Free   April 6 — World Percussion Night will feature multiple drumming styles, including performances by the Taiko and Steel Drum ensembles from the College of Musical Arts. Advance tickets are $7 for students and $10 for other adults; tickets the day of the concert are, respectively, $10 and $13. Tickets can also be purchased at bgsu.edu/arts. For more information, call the box office between noon and 6 p.m.weekdays at 419-372-8171. The performance will begin at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall, located in the Moore Musical Arts Center. April 11 — The Faculty Artist Series presents Matthew McBride-Daline on the viola. Since his debut in Carnegie Hall, McBride-Daline has performed worldwide as a viola soloist. An avid chamber musician, he has performed at numerous international festivals including the Banff Center for the Arts, Verbier Academy, the Music Academy of the West, the New York String Orchestra Seminar and Sarasota Music Festival. His performance will begin at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall, located in the Moore Musical Arts Center. Free April 12 — Continuing its focus on exile and migration, the International Film Series presents “Balseros (Rafters)” (2002, Spain, 120 minutes, directed by Carles Bosch and Josep Maria Domenech), with an introduction by Dr. Pedro Porbén from the Department of World Languages and Cultures, Latin American Studies. Filmed in Cuba, Guantanamo Bay and the United States, this transnational film gives insight into the “human adventure of people who are shipwrecked between two worlds.” The award-winning documentary tracks the lives of Cubans who fled Cuba by raft during the economic depression of the so-called “Periodo especial” in the early 1990s. The screening will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Gish Film Theater, located in Hanna Hall. Free April 12 — Jazz Lab Band 2 will give a performance at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall at the Moore Musical Arts Center. Advance tickets are $7 for students and $10 for other adults; tickets the day of the concert are, respectively, $10 and $13. 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. April 13 — BGSU doctoral candidates in music perform in response to specific works of art as part of “Ear | Eye: Listening and Looking,” a partnership between the College of Musical Arts and the Toledo Museum of Art. An exploration of the relationship of contemporary music and art, each performance is followed by discussion. The event will begin at 7 p.m. at the Toledo Museum of Art, 2445 Monroe St., Toledo. Free April 13 — The International Film Series presents “Ali: Angst essen Seele auf (Ali: Fear Eats the Soul)” (1974, West Germany, 93 minutes, directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder), with an introduction by Dr. Christina Guenther from the Department of World Languages and Cultures, Germany. One of Fassbinder’s masterpieces, this award-winning drama explores the unusual love affair between a young Moroccan guest worker and an elderly German cleaning lady…


Bob Hastings: Keep Black Swamp Players afloat, & reconsider water tower theater

My name is Bob Hastings, and if my 76+ stage appearances have made you smile, I’m glad…but this isn’t about me. I’m 86 years old and over-the-theatre-hill. But what I have to say should…and might be of considerable importance to the Bowling Green area…singing, acting and dancing talent, community band, and theatre fans in all of Wood County. The Black Swamp Players announced recently to suspend operations for a lack of persons to produce, direct and particularly build, paint and design the sets…and fulfill back stage duties.. A more recent BSP meeting produced glimmers of hope in rescinding that suspension and announcing at least a partial season of shows for 2018/19. In my 36 years with the Players I have done it all…many times. Act, direct, board member, president, set designer/builder, paint, etc., etc. PLEASE…I am begging the Bowling Green Community to not allow this organization, celebrating their 50th year, to close its doors for even one year. We have produced our shows on as many as 11 local stages including 10 years at the Mall and 13 at the First United Methodist Church. I retired in 2014, my health and stamina no longer allowing me to be active. I’m retired, but it seems to me that the public and current actors and directors owe it to living charter members, Jim and Lee Forse…and hundreds of past actors, directors and workers, to keep the theatre lights burning for another 50 years. So, if there are those reading this letter, able and interested in working on or behind the stage…or those who would be interested in helping to build sets, or those willing to serve on our board to help make critical decisions about our organization…I beg of you to step up now and call our president, Lane Hakel! I do not have Lane’s permission to print his contact information…but you can reach me…by email at bobhastings@woh.rr.com, I’ll see that it gets to Lane and the board. However, if we are to continue beyond 2018/19, we may have another teeny tiny problem. It is possible we will need a new venue as the church’s availability diminishes due to scheduling of church activities. If it happens…BSP is resilient, we’ll find a way to put our shows on a stage, but if anyone out there will give, or reasonably rent, us a permanent venue, it is time for you to step up and help us…NOW! Speaking of venues, I would guess that many of you did not know that the water tower in Carter Park was altered when it was built to be a venue for community theatre and band, as well for overflow council meetings. In the early 80’s, President Jim Forse and I were asked to attend a special meeting of City Council to gauge BSP’s interest in a possible theatre that could be housed in one of two new water towers being built at Carter Park and Sand Ridge Road. This possibility was being spearheaded by then City Manager, Wes Hoffman, who envisioned a water tower theatre. On your way to the youth ball fields, I’ll bet you have noticed the smaller building that extends into the parking lot in front of the tower. That was to have been the theatre lobby…it is already plumbed for bathrooms…and inside there are…


Black Swamp Players facing its final curtain

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Black Swamp Players have announced to its members that the theater troupe is suspending operations after its production of “On Golden Pond” in April. The play is the last production of its 50th season. It may be the troupe’s last … or maybe not. President Lane Hakel said that his opinion of what the final outcome will be depends on the day. “We’re in a weird position for a non-profit,” Hakel said. “We have enough money to continue, but we don’t have enough people.” It takes people to build and paint sets, handle all the technical details, as well as administrative work to stage four shows a year – a musical and three “straight” plays. The troupe’s musical “The Secret Garden” ended is two weekend run on Sunday. “This used to be a labor of love, now it’s just a labor,” Hakel said. No there just are not enough to do the work needed to stage another season. Casting has not been a problem this season. “Secret Garden” drew a good turnout of newcomers to the Players. Hakel credited it to the popularity of the show, and to the good reputation of director, Cassie Greenlee. The board has been discussing the fate of the troupe “for years, not just months,” Hakel said. Whether this is intermission before a triumphant resolution in the second act or whether this is the final curtain will depend on response to the news of the suspension.  If other newcomers step forward, or former volunteers who’ve taken a hiatus return and bring “positive contributions” with them, then the Players can survive. A final decision will be made next January. The Players will hold its annual banquet, awards ceremony, and election of officers in May. “If we come back, it will be a new community theatre with an injection of cash that just happens to be called the Black Swamp Players,” Hakel said. The current structure of four productions – several years ago it as five – will have to change. Last August the troupe announced a Fifty for Fifty campaign, to raise $50,000 toward finding a new home. That campaign go off to a good start with two $10,000 donations. Now, that and any other money raised for the effort will be returned, Hakel said. The Players did look for new homes, but couldn’t find the right place at the right price or a theatrical partner to share the costs. 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. The acoustic are bad and the stage in cramped. The idea of attending theatre in a church hall turns some people off. And the presence in the church limits some productions that have certain adult language and themes. The success of a production of the comedy “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” in 2016 at the Clazel indicated to the troupe it may need a new venue. Hakel  said the audience for the shows has dropped by half in the past decade. A non-musical play attracts about 40 a show while the musical are bigger draws. “The Secret Garden,” drew about a 100 a show during its run. The troupe has been…


“All Hands on Deck” brings a sense of purpose to its celebration of WWII generation

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Jody Madaras, the song and dance man from Pemberville, created the musical “The All Hands on Deck Show” as a celebration of the World War II generation. The show brings together more than 40 hits from the era, tied together by a plot about a USO troupe. The show has found a home in Branson, Missouri, when it is not touring the country. As the members of that generation pass from the scene though, Madaras said he’s finding fans from an unexpected cohort. “We’re seeing a lot of Vietnam veterans,” he said. “The whole show is about unity. The Vietnam veterans I’ve spoken to and gotten to know have a yearning for unity.” The country was not a unified when they were sent to war, he said. Now they see this show about their parents’ generation as providing a sense of what they miss and long for. “All Hands on Deck” will return to the Valentine Theatre in Toledo Sunday, March 4, for a 2 p.m. matinee. Click here for tickets. https://www.etix.com/ticket/p/7156800/all-hands-on-deck-toledo-valentine-theatre “In six years I’ve personally learned a lot about our country just meeting these people,” said Madaras.  “One of thing I’ve learned that I didn’t know early on is that in 1942 every American had a purpose. Every citizen had a purpose. Every citizen felt like they could contribute to the country. “That could be the key to our future,” he said. It’s something his generation – he just turned 47 – could learn from and emulate. “That idea of every American having a purpose, I don’t think we have that kind of mindset.” That comes through in the songs, he said, especially the Rosie the Riveter. The famous image of the bicep flexing worker flashes on the screen. “These are women with a purpose; that’s powerful.” Madaras hopes the show, which he co-created, “in some small way” reminds people of the need for unity and a sense of “contributing to something greater than our own specific interests.” That may be a lesson for some of the show’s younger listeners. He said he’s seeing young families attend with their children. The parents want the kids to know these songs, and hear them performed live with a real orchestra. The show continues to evolve, Madaras said. He’s added another level of media. Photos are projected as a back drop behind the songs. So a photo of James Cagney pops up as the cast sings “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” There’s even an image of a Maxwell House coffee can as they sing the company’s jingle. “They howl at that,” Madaras said. The images add historical context and a sense of the times, he said. A new service theme has been added to the score. When the cast was doing a teaser set, an older man approached Madaras and said he’d seen the show. He liked it, but noted in the section when all the military themes are performed, the Merchant Marine was left out. The Merchant Marine played a key role in the war effort, ferrying supplies and troops, across the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, the veteran mariner told him. Madaras said he had looked and could not find the Merchant Marine theme. Not long afterward he had a communication from a lawyer, and enclosed…


Black Swamp Players reveals wealth of talent in ‘The Secret Garden’

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Black Swamp Players have stepped out of their comfort zone in staging “The Secret Garden.” The musical, beloved by many including director Cassie Greenlee, sprawls across two continents, with the main setting a rambling mansion with many rooms, many haunted rooms and gardens, including the secret one of the title. The musical also stretches from the real world deep into the world of memory, populated by the spirits of the dead. These are characters with haunted hearts. And the musical relies heavily on its songs to tell its story and express the sense of longing, loss, and hope. All and all, a challenge, to fit onto the modest stage at First United Methodist Church. But the Players do a splendid job and demonstrate why the show is beloved by its fans. “The Secret Garden” opens tonight (Friday, Feb. 16) at 8 p.m. and continues this weekend  with shows Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and next weekend with evening shows Feb. 23 and 24 and a matinee Feb. 25. For tickets click.  http://www.blackswampplayers.org/ The show begins with a lively party in India, where British officers and their wives are celebrating while our heroine Mary (Zoe Cross-Nelms) is in bed upstairs. Soon cholera will serve to make her an orphan (the preferred state for children in such stories). But Mary’s parents (Keith Guion and Melanie Moore) aren’t making early exit, rather they and the rest continue to haunt the stage, forming a kind of Greek chorus in dazzling white as Mary is shipped back to England to live in a gloomy mansion with her gloomy Uncle Archibald (Nathan Wright) The house has secrets. Archibald is also in mourning for his wife and sister of Mary’s mother, Lily (Megan Meyer) who died 10 years before. And Lily as well continues to haunt those she left behind. Mary’s disposition – she was apparently always something of a pill – does not improve with this change of scenery. Indeed, it seems designed to make it worse. A spoiled, waited-upon child, she’s now left fend for herself. But the housemaid Martha (Lorna Patterson) provides some loving guidance, and the maid’s brother Dickon (Quintin Bouillon) introduces Mary to the joys of nature and gardens. Also, in the house is Colin (Eli Marx), Archibald’s son. Lily died in childbirth from injuries sustained in an accident in the garden. He is kept in isolation, deemed too sickly to survive long, and treated by another uncle, Neville (Daniel Cagle) who has given up his medical practice to devote himself to the boy’s care as well as managing the mansion. His ministrations seem more aimed at keeping the boy an invalid than curing him. Colin has come to believe in his own infirmity. All this plays out with plenty of melodrama and melody well executed by the cast. (As is the case when attending a dress rehearsal, the crew was still adjusting volume levels for the actors with marked improvement in the second act.) Cross-Nelms is the focal point of the show. Her tantrums are fierce, but shaded by sadness. And she can turn it on at will as she does on a visiting mistress (Robin Cagle) from a school where Neville wishes to ship Mary. She uses it to…


“The Language Archive” speaks to difficulties of communicating from the heart

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The linguist at the center of the play “The Language Archive” is fluent in a number of languages. The language of the heart is not one of them. The play by Julia Cho is all about the difficulty of mastering that language. “The Language Archive” opens tonight (Thursday, Feb. 15) and continues weekends through Feb. 24 at the Eva Marie Saint Theatre in Bowling Green State University’s Wolfe Center for the Arts. Click for show times and ticket information. For George (Connor Long) those troubles are evident from the opening scene. He’s concerned about his wife who always seems sad, crying at the least provocation whether watching TV, cleaning the house, or writing notes. “She uses her tears to seal the envelopes.” But his wife, Mary (Felita Guyton), wonders why he never cries, not even at the death of his grandmother. As a linguist devoted to preserving dying languages, he finds the extinction of a language far more moving than the death of any pet or family member. There are 6,900 languages in the world, he notes, and half of them are expected to be gone by the end of the century. The death of a language is the death of a world, he believes. (Though as another character points out later, the world dies first.) George works in an archive of tapes of dead and dying languages. He and his long-time assistant Emma (Laura Beth Hohman) are welcoming a couple who speak a nearly extinct language. They hope to capture their conversation on tape. Usually they have only a single speaker of an endangered language who delivers long stories and monologues. Seldom do they have two people who can converse. And Resten (Michael Tosti) and Alta (Hope Elizabeth Eller) do converse in a comic scene. They are sullen when they enter, and then they start talking, bickering. It starts with the wife’s complaints about getting stuck in the middle seat on the airplane on their flight over, devolves into his complaints about her cooking, and then they vow never to speak to each other again. All in English. They explain to the linguists that when they argue they do so in English because their native tongue is too beautiful for arguments. It truly is the language of the heart. Now “Mr. Science Man,” as they call George, won’t hear those beautiful sounds because of their long simmering disagreements. Emma has her own long-simmering feelings for George. His marital troubles give her hope. She is trying to learn Esperanto, a language developed by L.L. Zamenhof in the early 20th century as a logical, easy to learn international language. His goal was to promote world peace. George is a devotee. Emma’s Esperanto teacher (Megan Kome) serves as much as a therapist as a teacher. Usually a person learns a new language because they are in love with a culture, or a person. Cho leavens the drama with humor. Long, who has been a fixture on local stages from his Horizon Youth Theatre days, plays George as aloof, yet with a good heart if he cared to consult it. A blend of being at once lost in thought yet thoughtless, he hurts people through his obliviousness. Guyton’s Mary is conflicted about her feelings for George, yet…


BGSU theater staging ‘The Language Archive’

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University’s Department of Theatre and Film will present Julia Cho’s award-winning play, “The Language Archive” in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre at BGSU’s Wolfe Center for the Arts, Feb. 15-24. Performances are in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre at the Wolfe Center for the Arts on the BGSU campus, Feb. 15-17 and 22-24 at 8 p.m., and Feb. 17, 18, and 24 at 2 p.m.Tickets purchased in advanced are $5 for students, $10 for seniors, and $15 for adults. All tickets are $20 if purchased on the day of performance. Tickets can be purchased through the BGSU Arts Box Office in the Wolfe Center, online at bgsu.edu/arts, or by calling 419-372-8171. Winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for women who have written distinguished works for the English-speaking theatre, “The Language Archive” tells the story of George, a brilliant linguist who has devoted himself to archiving dying languages. When George’s wife leaves him after he fails to decode a series of mysterious notes he receives from her, he struggles to learn the vocabulary of loss as he fights to preserve the Elloway language. Its last known speakers, a bickering elderly couple grappling with their own sense of loss, refuse to speak to each other in their native tongue, making George’s work nearly impossible. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to George, his assistant, Emma, finds herself unable speak in complete sentences as she tries to come to terms with her feelings for him. Inspired by the universal language of Esperanto, which was created with the hope of moving toward a more peaceful and unified world, “The Language Archive” offers a poignant and bittersweet exploration of the insufficiency of language to capture and communicate the human experience. Still, Cho’s play reminds us that language is sometimes an act of faith, and often our only hope for coming to terms with loss. As Cho’s characters discover, we sometimes have to venture further into sadness to find the endings we need – even if they’re not the endings we imagine. Introspective and lightly comic, “The Language Archive” offers a subtle examination of the challenges of communicating in an ever-changing world. BGSU faculty member Sara Lipinski Chambers directs the production, while collaborating with production personnel from the Department of Theatre and Film, as well as with Clayton Peterson of the BGSU School of Art. Peterson’s striking scene design is paired with contemporary costume design by Margaret McCubbin, lighting design by Steve Boone, properties by Kelly Mangan, and sound design by Jason Walton. “The Language Archive” features Connor Long and Felita Guyton as George and his wife, Mary; Laura Beth Hohman as his assistant, Emma; and Hope Eller and Michael Tosti as the Elloway-speaking couple. The cast also includes Isaac Batty, Anna Hawersaat, and Megan Kome. Zach Sayer serves as Stage Manager, assisted by Maria Smith. Performances are in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre at the Wolfe Center for the Arts on the BGSU campus, Feb. 15-17 and 22-24 at 8 p.m., and Feb. 17, 18, and 24 at 2 p.m.Tickets purchased in advanced are $5 for students, $10 for seniors, and $15 for adults. All tickets are $20 if purchased on the day of performance. Tickets can be purchased through the BGSU Arts Box Office in the Wolfe Center, online at bgsu.edu/arts, or by calling 419-372-8171. To our guests with disabilities, please indicate…