February’s local theatre presents treats for all ages

By Jacqui Theobald

Photo: Cleo Rungee as Kaa (left) and Mathis Hahn as Mowgli in Landmark Children Theatre Company’s production of ‘Jungle Book’ photo: Deb Sortman


Just for fun with ‘Same Time Next Year’ at Xenia’s X*ACT Theater

If there’s a need for spirit lifters in this odd season, the Xenia area community theatre, X*ACT, is doing just the right thing. Guaranteed to make you smile with nostalgia or anticipation, this 1975 play has become a classic, beloved by almost every age.

Bernard Slade’s prizewinning play, that ran on Broadway for four years and then became a movie, is a two-person vehicle. The story traces the lives of two married people who meet annually to catch up on their lives. If they were married to each other, this might be unusual, but… they aren’t.

According to Cheryl Dern, first-time director for Xenia, the heart of the story is reflected in the dialogue about their own families, despite maintaining the once-a-year affair.

“This couple goes through a lot of changes,” she adds, “but never in the same way or at the same time. It supplies plenty of conflict.” There’s just enough real-life angst in the progress of their 25-year saga.

Actors Sandy Coleman, as Doris, and Wayne Wolfe, as George, carry the story. Sandy is making her Xenia debut, having previously appeared in Dayton and Lebanon. Wayne is well known for his Xenia appearances in “Lilies of the Field” and “Black Coffee.”

‘Same Time Next Year’ opens with a gala at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, and runs Feb. 4, 10, 11 at 7:30 p.m. and at Sunday, Feb. 12,  at  3 p.m. at X*ACT Xenia Area Community Theater, 45 E. Second St. in Xenia. Tickets range from $14 (for seniors/students) to $17 for general admission, with discounted pricing for members. For tickets or more information, please call 937.372.0516 or visit XeniaACT.org.


Kids as animals in ‘Jungle Book’ at Centerville’s Town Hall Theatre

Most refreshing and uplifting is Washington Township Town Hall Theatre presentation, for and by kids (and adults), of “Jungle Book,” adapted from the Rudyard Kipling story, by Monica Flory. This production of the Landmark Children’s Theatre Company is a comedy rather than a musical. The animals scheme and connive, and generally cause trouble, for Mowgli, who is trying to figure out if he should stay in the jungle or go back to his former human world.

There’s one cast of 20, ranging in age from 8 to 15, instead of the usual double casting with  an experienced adult on stage.

New to the children’s theatre organization is David Cotter, replacing Mark Metzger as artistic director, who is now moving to Washington Township Recreation’s administrative staff.  Cotter, from upstate New York, is experienced and educated in the theatre, and is also a trained musician. “I am so impressed with the rich, interesting, and effective program Mark has built here across the years,” Cotter says. “There is even second generation participation. Amazing.”

Mowgli’s dilemma parallels the struggles of today’s young people, who are figuring out their place in the world.

Mathias Hahn plays the boy, and his real-life mother, Heidi Hahn, plays a lion. “Getting to rehearsals and absorbing the relationships of the story has become part of their lives,” Cotter says.

“Playing animals has been a challenge,” Director Doug Lloyd says. “They are talented, eager kids and have researched and really worked thoughtfully to develop animal-like characteristics and motions.”

Lloyd is an experienced director and is often involved in various community theatres, including those with a youth focus. Hahn is also his assistant for “Jungle Book.”

‘Jungle Book’ runs Friday–Sunday, Feb. 3–5 at Town Hall Theatre, 27 N. Main St. in Centerville. Tickets range from $13-$15. For tickets or more information, please call 937.433.8957 or visit WashingtonTwp.org


An ambitious original coalition, ‘An Enmity of the People’ at UD

Yes, you read that correctly. The performance is a takeoff on Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People.” This original script from the UD Theatre, Dance, Performance and Tech Department creates a timely satire.

The current update takes a look at the safety of the public, which has been told the lead in the water is perfectly safe. Is it a lie? Do they believe it? Where’s trust? How reassuring is the situation? What happens to the city? See any parallels?

An unusual combination of theatrical perspectives will come together in this experiment: The Hanley Sustainability Institute, local puppet company Zoot Theatre, and U-Lift Physical Theatre from San Francisco. “That west coast connection was made through our staff member and director of the show, Jerome York, also a member of that troop,” explains Michelle Hayford, UD department head.

“This is going to be really fast,” she adds. “It was just cast a month before performance. We’re planning for it to be fresh, experimental, physical, and creative. And terrific fun!”

‘An Enmity of the People’ takes the stage at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24 and 25, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26, in Fitz Hall at University of Dayton’s Black Box Theatre, 300 College Park in Dayton. General admission is $12, with a UD student ID $8 at the box office at Boll Theatre. For tickets or more information, please call 937.229.2545 or visit UDayton.edu/ArtsSciences/Academics/Theatre/Productions


Stivers serves ‘The Dining Room’ by A.R. Gurney

One of A.R. Gurney’s most respected, but always unusual theatrical pieces has been chosen by Stivers Theatre Magnet Director Gina Handy Minyard for a short run at the end of the month. “This a play with a focus on pure acting, not devices or distractions such as accents or costumes or physicality,” she says.

Although the set—obviously, a dining room—never changes, the characters and situations certainly do. Just six actors are challenged to depict some 60 people ranging in age from an 11-year-old girl at her birthday party to an older woman dealing with dementia. Three men, three women, and two understudies bring it to life in a scant month.

The situations reflect real-life problems, such as underage drinking, and immoral or unfaithful relationships.

‘The Dining Room’ takes the stage 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24 and 25 in Stivers’ Centennial Hall, 1313 E. Fifth St. in Dayton. For more information, please visit Stivers.org/Arts/Theatre.html. To reserve tickets, please call 937.551.1620.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Reach DCP theatre critic Jacqui Theobald at JacquiTheobald@DaytonCityPaper.com.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Got an Opinion?


We are interested to hear what you think.  Please send us a message. [contact-form 4 “Opinion”]  

Summer Sun and Salutations


You’ve seen it throughout your social media feed, you hear about a friend’s awesome class over a cup of coffee, […]

Paddle on, Dayton


Summer is the perfect time to hit the water, and with more than 265 miles of water trails in the […]

Still living the good life


The words “living legend” are often misapplied, usually to sports figures who haven’t really experienced enough of life to earn […]

Acid Flashback: Hara Arena 1981


Love them or hate them, the Grateful Dead were truly a one-of-a-kind band. During their thirty-year career as one of […]

Evolution Calling


Queensrÿche have spent their career defining a uniquely heavy progressive sound. Whether delivering Mindcrime, Empires or taking fans to the […]