Community theater

Horizon Youth youngsters tune into absurd comedy with “Magic Harmonica”

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The stage manager in Horizon Youth Theatre’s production of “The Magic Harmonica and Other Fanciful Tales” has problems keeping her cast in line. They always want to veer away from the script. Officious, and controlling, the stage manager played Kaitlyn Valantine is not above yanking one narrator for another when they displease her. What she can’t control is the way the playwright Janet Layberry also has a mind of her own. These four one-act plays within a play all employ the tropes of fairy tales, but do so in absurd and comic ways. “The Magic Harmonica” is on stage at the Otsego High auditorium Thursday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5. Visit www.horizonyouththeatre.org/product/harmonica. The play uses the troupe’s younger cohort of actors, ages 6 through 12, but there seem few concessions to age. The humor is at times intentionally juvenile, often involving grade school word play. Nobody delivers those jokes better than an actual grade schooler. Sometimes the humor seems pitched to the parents, as when Michelle (Calista Wilkins) in “The Woobly Fiasco” tells the enchanted prince carrying an outsized sword: “People haven’t used swords for ages, now they have … lawyers.” And then there’s the jester played by Liam Rogel who trades in absurdist non-sequiturs. Each story has lessons here but they spare us the morals and never let messages get in the way of a good time. The first of the four plays, “You Call That a Bedmonster?” is a typical fairy tale set up. Here we have a princess (Addie Smith) upset by a…


Black Swamp Players announces its 50th season

From BLACK SWAMP PLAYERS The Black Swamp Players has announced its 50th season. BASKERVILLE by Ken Ludwig, Directed by Ben Forman Performance dates: September 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, October 1 Black Swamp Players is proud to announce that we will be kicking off our Golden Anniversary 50th Season with the northwest Ohio premier of Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery. A comedic retelling of the traditional Conan Doyle tale, a cast of five actors deftly portray more than 40 characters through a combination of accents, physicality, and quick costume changes. THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER by Barbara Robinson, Directed by Keith Guion along with A CHRISTMAS RADIO PLAY Performance dates: December 1st, 2nd and 3rd In this hilarious Christmas classic, a couple struggling to put on a church Christmas pageant is faced with casting the Herdman kids – probably the most inventively awful kids in history. You won’t believe the mayhem – and the fun – when the Herdmans collide with the Christmas story head on! Radio Play—expect the full radio show audience experience! THE SECRET GARDEN by Norman, Simon, Burnett directed by Cassie Greenlee Performance dates: February 16,17,18 and 23,24,25 This enchanting classic of children’s literature is reimagined in brilliant musical style by composer Lucy Simon and Marsha Norman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of “Night Mother.” Orphaned in India, 11 year-old Mary Lennox returns to Yorkshire to live with her embittered, reclusive uncle Archibald and his invalid son Colin. The estate’s many wonders include a magic garden which beckons the children with haunting melodies and the “Dreamers”, spirits from Mary’s past who guide her through her new…


Black Swamp Players’ “Baby” is a well-rounded musical about the highs & lows of expecting

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The baby in the title of the Black Swamp Players new musical is a red herring. Yes, the premise of “Baby: The Musical” is three couples, each at a different stage of life, confronting pregnancy. The show, though isn’t about babies, or a baby, but about those three couples, or rather the six individuals, and how they face having or not having a baby, and the strains this puts on their relationships. The Players have assembled a cast that captures the predicament of each of the couples, and surrounds them with a chorus of comic supporters and irritants. Directed by Inge Klopping “Baby” is on stage Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the First United Methodist Church, 1526 E. Wooster, Bowling Green. Tickets are $15 and $12 for seniors and students from Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St. and at http://www.blackswampplayers.org/tickets. “Baby” opens with a mini-lecture on the biology behind it all by Deb Snow. She concludes: “In a way it’s truly a romantic story. Sperm meets egg. The great miracle occurs and no one knows it’s happening.” We then meet our three couples just as they realize, or they think they realize, what has happened. Danny (Andrew Austin) and Lizzie (Courtney Gilliland) are college students. He’s a serious musician trying to find his own sound, and she’s a writer. They’re romantics committed to living and loving by their own rules. They’ve just moved in together when they find out she’s pregnant, or as she sings “inside of me our genes have found their niche.” Alan (D….


Theatergoers will lap up Players’ off-beat dog story “Sylvia”

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News In “Sylvia,” one character warns another that if you give a dog a woman’s name you soon start thinking of the dog as a woman. Well, if you cast a fine comic actress as a dog, believe me you will start thinking of her as a dog, a lovable, neurotic, rambunctious, affectionate, and always entertaining dog. With Traci Johnson playing the title dog in A.R. Gurney’s comedy, the Black Swamp Players have done just that. “Sylvia” opens Friday at 8 p.m. in the First United Methodist Church, 1526 E. Wooster, Bowling Green. The comedy continues its run Saturday, Sept. 16, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 17, at 2 p.m. and next weekend Sept. 23 and 24 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 25 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 and $10 for seniors and students from Grounds for Thought or by visiting www.blackswampplayer.org. The adult comedy, directed by Wayne Weber, is one of Gurney’s explorations of white, upper middle class angst. Greg (Ryan Albrecht) and Kate (Stephanie Truman) are empty nesters in the 1990s who have moved into New York City from the suburbs, and they are experiencing just the city life they were seeking… dinner parties, chamber music concerts, Knicks games. After raising their two children, now away at college, Kate has a blossoming career in education. Her mission is to bring Shakespeare to inner city junior high students. She’s earnest and devoted to her new endeavor. Greg, on the other hand, is at a dead end with his job, which somehow involves money markets. Sort of a vague sitcom dad kind of employment….


“Little Mermaid” performed swimmingly by 3B youth troupe

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News With temperatures topping the 90s, a trip to the sea seems just the thing. Local theatergoers don’t have to go far for that. This weekend 3B Productions is staging “Disney’s The Little Mermaid, the Musical,” based on the 1989 animated film. This is 3B’s annual summer youth musical. It’s a great idea. Pull together talent from area high schools and give them a chance to work together and give the audience a chance to see some of the best young thespian talent in the area. Given the size of the cast, 65 in all, with its sailors, maids, cooks and all manner of sea creatures, real and imagined, the show has plenty of roles for youngsters, some maybe getting their first exposure to musical theater. The result is a bracing sea adventure, powered by youthful energy. “The Little Mermaid,” directed by Joe Barton with musical direction by Jennifer Bollinger and choreography by Bob Marzola, is on stage at the Maumee Indoor Theatre Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. The Saturday matinee will feature understudies including several members of the Horizon Youth Theatre. Tickets, which are going fast, are $15 available at: www.3Bproductions.org. The production meets the challenge of bringing animated antics to life, and fleshing out the characters. Using the energy of live theater performed by a youthful cast as a substitute for the magic of animation, “Little Mermaid” has a spunky summer camp joy to it. Particularly impressive is the way Andrew Nauden keeps his character Sebastian, the court composer turned a mermaid princess’ minder,…


3B to present “Little Mermaid” in Maumee, July 21-24

Submitted by 3B PRODUCTIONS 3B Productions will present “Disney’s The Little Mermaid, the Musical,” July 21 through July 24 at the Maumee Indoor Theatre. Performance schedule is: Thursday July 21 – 8 p.m. Friday, July 22 – 8 p.m. Saturday, July 23 – 2:30 p.m. . Saturday, July 23 – 8 p.m. Sunday, July 24 – 2:30 p.m. Conversations with the cast and crew immediately follow each performances. Tickets are $15 general seating. For tickets, visit www.3Bproductions.org, or stop in at The Maumee Indoor Theatre. Based on one of Hans Christian Andersen’s most beloved stories and the classic animated film, “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” is a  love story for the ages. With music by eight-time Academy Award winner Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater, and a book by Doug Wright, this fishy fable includes the songs “Under the Sea,” “Kiss the Girl,” and “Part of Your World.” Ariel, King Triton’s youngest daughter, wishes to pursue the human Prince Eric in the world above and bargains with the evil sea witch, Ursula, to trade her tail for legs. But the bargain is not what it seems and Ariel needs the help of her colorful friends Flounder the fish, Scuttle the seagull, and Sebastian the crab to restore order under the sea. Joe Barton will direct this Disney classic at the intimate Maumee Indoor Theatre He will be supported in bringing this vision to the Maumee Indoor stage by musical director Jennifer Bollinger, choreographer/assistant director Bob Marzola, and scenic designer Jesse Bernal. Maumee High School’s Joelle Stiles joins the cast of “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” as Ariel, having last been seen…


Perrysburg Musical Theatre lands “Big Fish” in impressive fashion

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Staging the musical “Big Fish” is not a small task, and the Perrysburg Musical Theatre is up to it. The story, first a novel, then Tim Burton-directed movie, then a musical, is a sprawling father-son tale that blends uplifting fantasy with real-life drama. At the very big heart of the musical is the hero Edward Bloom (D. Ward Ensign), a small town salesman given to telling grand stories about his life that may be true, at least in some fashion. As he faces death, the world of those stories collides with real life. “Big Fish,” which is making its Northwest Ohio premiere, is being presented Thursday, June 23, through Saturday, June 25, and Sunday, June 26, at 2 p.m. in the Perrysburg High School auditorium. Tickets are $13. Visit http://www.perrysburgmusicaltheatre.org/. “Big Fish” is a great fit for the Perrysburg summer troupe. The show calls for a cast of more than 40, many of them young people. It exudes a sense of community whether in Bloom’s hometown or the circus he works for. The play’s technical demands are a challenge. The plot cuts back and forth between present and past, from a kid’s bedroom and a bewitched forest. The production, led by the creative team of C. Jordan Benavente, Julie Bermudez, Ensign and Nicole Spadafore with set design by Dave Nelms, pulls this off seamlessly. The high point being the daffodil-infused climax of the first act. The show is more than a visual wonder. As well as a large ensemble it demands three strong singing actors for the central parts of the  fantasist Edward Bloom,…


Black Swamp Players taking late director’s dream play to state conference

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Dennis East had long wanted to stage “The Black Bonspiel of Wullie MacCrimmon,” a dark comedy about dealing with the devil and curling. Years ago he and his wife, Kathy, had seen the play in Canada, and he just felt would be a great show for The Black Swamp Players to perform back home in Bowling Green. East was a veteran of the troupe, having done everything from set construction to acting to serving as president. Finally “The Black Bonspiel,” with a few approved changes to make it more suitable for a local audience and provide more female roles, made it onto the Black Swamp Players’ schedule for fall, 2013. Then East was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The play was scrapped as East battled the disease. Finally last September, still in treatment, East brought Wullie MacCrimmon and his colorful cast of Canadian curlers to the First United Methodist stage. Kathy East remembers it was a strain on him. But he persisted.  “He was just determined he wanted to do it,” she said.  As was his practice he built the sets. “He would spend a lot of time in morning, and afternoons he was napping.” He complained, she said, that he used to be able to construct a set in two weeks. The devil-may-care comedy, in which a shoe repairman played by Lane Hakel bets his soul on the outcome of a curling match, or bonspiel, came off so well that the Players opted to submit it as their entry into the Northwest Region of the Ohio Community Theater Association conference. As the conference, held…


Perrysburg Musical Theatre brings stage version of “Big Fish” to Northwest Ohio

From PERRYSBURG MUSICAL THEATRE Perrysburg Musical Theatre will be the first theatre company in Northwest Ohio to debut the funny, fanciful and heartwarming new musical “Big Fish” this summer. “Big Fish” will be staged  June 23, 24, & 25 at 7 p.m. and 26 at 2 p.m. at Perrysburg High School. “Big Fish” is based on Daniel Wallace’s 1998 novel, “Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions.” The story which features flashbacks and tall tales that come to life, quickly caught the attention of American Screenwriter John August who adapted the novel for the 2003 film “Big Fish.” In 2013, John August brought the story to Broadway with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa. Variety called it “(A) wholly satisfying show: meaningful, emotional, tasteful, theatrically imaginative and engaging.” PMT’s Big Fish is cast with gifted and talented actors. D. Ward Ensign stars as the charming, charismatic storyteller and father, Edward Bloom. Ensign has been a part of numerous theatrical and musical productions, both on and off stage since being in his first musical, Godspell in 1988. Elizabeth Cottle plays Sandra Bloom, who is patient, calm – the perfect balance to Edward’s enthusiasm. Elizabeth is no stranger to the stage, but this is her 1st production with PMT. “When we had callbacks for the roles of Sandra and Edward, we paired Ward and Elizabeth together to duet the song, “Daffodils”. It was instant chemistry, they became Sandra and Edward,” said Julie Bermudez, Artistic Director for PMT. Also making his 1st time appearance with PMT is Garrett Leininger as Will Bloom. Garrett is the Choir Director for Perrysburg High School. His character, Will…


Beautiful Kids’ “Midsummer Night’s Dream” is theater worth celebrating

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Summer’s here. School’s out. Couples are marrying. It’s a season for celebration. Beautiful Kids Independent Shakespeare adds to the festivities with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” marking its 20th season. Director Abbey Casino noted in her introduction that the company is just a bit younger than she is. Like irises, Beautiful Kids blossoms in June to present a Shakespeare play for all to enjoy, free of charge, in the open air – if the weather cooperates. The play will be staged tonight (Wednesday), Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m. on the Needle Hall stage in Bowling Green’s City Park. (Moved inside in case the weather doesn’t cooperate.) The comedy is the perfect selection for the anniversary show. Weddings play a central part with all the suitable complications, and the play is, in its way, a tribute to theater. Those rude mechanicals, played with gusto by Jalesa Earby, Pat Mahood, Nathaniel Smith and Zachary Taylor Robb as Bottom, are the forbearers of community theater, though not certainly at its finest. And the mischievous sprite Puck (Dee BonAnno) manipulates humans – “What fools these mortals be,” she exclaims – and enjoys the drama as it unfolds, even bringing some popcorn to munch as lovers quarrel. All this makes for a lively, and very funny, production. Trimmed down to run two hours including intermission, the play has comic punch and narrative directness. Using an 11-member cast, Casino makes good use of double casting. Rachel Hetrick plays both the mortal queen Hippolyta and the queen of the fairies, Titania while Michael Portteus plays both Theseus, the king of Athens,…


Big Kids bring Bard’s beautiful works to BG stage

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Shakespeare’s plays and actual play collide when Beautiful Kids Independent Shakespeare Company brings the Bard’s works into Bowling Green’s City Park. Since 1997, the Beautiful Kids have localized Shakespeare’s observation that “all the world’s a stage,” and paraded Shakespeare’s panoply of characters across the Needle Hall stage. All within laughing and shouting distance of the swings, slides and picnic table. All within a wooded glade that can stand for parapets of a Danish castle, a battlefield at Agincourt, the Forest of Arden, or the wilds of Prospero’s island. The productions began in 1997 when a group of Bowling Green State University theater students decided to stage “As You Like It” at Needle Hall, and every year since students, graduates and the friends have returned to stage a Shakespeare play, sometimes two. The troupe marks its 20th year with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” this week Wednesday, June 1, Thursday, June 2, and Friday, June 3,  at 7 p.m. The tradition has passed down from student to student with little formal structure. Tyler Ward, who was active with the troupe for five years starting in 2005, said because the plays are not done with the constraints of school or work, they have an element of freedom to them. “Beautiful Kids gave me the opportunity to explore Shakespeare on my terms,” he said. “We were doing it for the love of it. We were doing it because we wanted to do some freakin’ Shakespeare.” With the semester over, and the cast hanging on in town for a few weeks, “it became really celebratory. It became like a…


Black Swamp Players will stage four shows in 2016-2017

Submitted by BLACK SWAMP PLAYERS The Black Swamp Players have announced their productions for the 2016-2017 season. On tap are: * “Sylvia” by A.R. Gurney presented at a venue to be determined from Sept. 16-18 and 23-25.  Directed by first time director, Wayne Weber. * “Vanya and Sasha and Masha and Spike” by Christopher Durang. One weekend only at the Clazel, November 3, 4, and 5.  Directed by Deb Weiser. * “Crazy for You,” Gershwin tunes with a Ken Ludwig book.  Feb. 17-19 and 24-26. at  First United Methodist Church and directed by Inge Klopping. * “Dixie Swim Club” by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, Jamie Wooten at First United Methodist on April 28-30 and May 5-7 and directed by another first time BSP director, Paul Soska.


“Getting Sara Married” tells of match made in mayhem

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News “Getting Sara Married” has just about everything you’d want in a romantic comedy: two reluctant suitors, a meddling aunt, a bout of amnesia and some serious food allergies. All those get comically twisted into a plot that not surprisingly ends up with the male ready to move his recliner into the female’s apartment. The fun is in the way the characters are manipulated in ways unlikely and comic into reaching that conclusion. The Black Swamp Players’ production of “Getting Sara Married,” written by Sam Bobrick and directed by Willard Misfeldt, a 40-year community  theater veteran, opens tonight at 8 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 1526 E. Wooster St., Bowling Green. The show continues Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and April 22 and 23 at 8 p.m. and April 24 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door or from Grounds for Thought or online at http://www.blackswampplayers.org/tickets/. Having a well-meaning, interfering aunt always benefits such a plot. In this case Aunt Martha (Fran Weith) fills the bill nicely. At once ditsy and single-minded, she’s concerned that her 30-something lawyer niece will “walk that long road of life alone.” “Left to your own devices,” she tells her niece in one of their hilarious telephone chats, “I’m afraid you’ll end up an old maid. By your age I had been married twice.” Isn’t that embezzler that Sara is representing single? But the niece, the Sara (Caris Cloyd) of the title, professes no interest in matrimony. She’s more concerned with preparing the defense for the embezzler. “Marriage,” Sara says at one point,…


Lionface one acts find comedy & drama close to home

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News That coffee shop could be in Bowling Green. That comic convention could be in Columbus. The Lionface Productions one-act plays – all three written for the troupe – have a sense of familiarity viewed through a different lens. The Lionface production of one acts opens tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the rehearsal hall behind the Performing Arts Center in the middle school. The show continues Friday and Saturday. Guests should enter through door M, near the patio area to the south of the Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $7 and $5 for students. Two of the plays were presented at a Wednesday night dress rehearsal. (The third “The Amazing Red Diamond” written by Jesse Koza got an early run through because of a scheduling conflict.) “Every Seven Years or So,” written by J. Benjamin and directed by Christina Hoekstra, traces the arc of the friendship between Eric (Cole Stiriz) and Fiona (Kathryn Gonda) from being artistically inclined and insecure high school students into young adults when the issues that first drew them together still resonate. We meet them mid-conversation as Eric is telling Fiona how his father, the high school art teacher, caught him in flagrante with another boy in the ceramics studio. The story sets up the relationship between Eric and Fiona as friends with no romantic interest. It also helps introduce the character of the father, as a fellow dreamer, who is never seen, but casts a shadow on the action. Stiriz and Gonda have good chemistry as friends so close they know just how to grate on each other. Eric is…


Black Swamp Players bring the marvelous world of Seuss to life

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The fantastic world of Dr. Seuss tells of many amazing feats and fanciful places. Is any of that as wondrous as the Black Swamp Players managing to fit his fantastical world onto the small stage at the First United Methodist Church? That stage is bursting with color, melody and dance as the Players, in collaboration with Horizon Youth Theatre, present “Seussical the Musical” Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. returning Feb. 26 and 27 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. in the church at 1526 E. Wooster St. Tickets are $15 and $12 for students and seniors from Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St., Bowling Green or online at http://www.blackswampplayers.org/ticket-sales/. The show, by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, shapes a plot around several famous Seuss tales. As fun as it would be, this is not The Complete Works of Dr. Seuss (Abridged). Instead with The Cat in the Hat (Jeff Guion) as the Lord of Misrule, the script focuses on the adventures of JoJo (Maddox Brosius), a thoughtful kid from Who, the smallest planet in the sky, and the dutiful elephant Horton, who discovers Who on a puff ball. Among the three they tap into the key themes of the world of Seuss. Each is his own person at odds with society. The Cat in the Hat celebrates a sense of playful anarchy, and encourages JoJo, a boy whose great fault is he thinks too much, to be true to himself even if it means trouble for others. Horton is thoughtful in another way. Deeply…