New productions and more on stage

Photo: Josh Richardt and Judy Shaw in “Shakespeare” in South Park; photos: courtesy South Park

By Jacqui Theobald

A new season, filled with eager anticipation and enthusiasm by community theatres, actors, and audiences. Hold on to your calendars. Two delightful offerings run simultaneously for three dates, creating opportunities to attend both.

Shakespeare in South Park, Sept. 8-10

This almost annual adventure in outdoor Shakespeare in September may be one of those “best kept secrets” that’s too much fun to miss. After performing many of the familiar plays, such as “The Tempest,”The Merry Wives of Windsor,” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” for the past nine years the group has discovered and decided on “Double Falsehood.

What? You’ve never heard of it? Co-director and SiSP co-founder and archivist-by-day Galen Wilson explains: “The play was first produced by Lewis Theobald in London in 1727, over a century after Shakespeare’s death (no idea if he’s a relative). Theobald claimed it was a genuine manuscript. There has been hot controversy about the play’s authenticity ever since.

“Some scholars have believed it was ‘Cardenio,’ a lost play of 1612, based on an episode in ‘Don Quixote’ co-authored by the Bard and John Fletcher. Shakespeare died in 1616.

“An Arden edition was published in 2010, after a respected British scholar’s years-long study led him to publish his conclusion that Shakespeare’s fingerprints were all over it… In 2015 two University of Texas psychological scientists … concluded that Shakespeare is primarily responsible for the first three acts and Fletcher the primary voice of the last two. (It has been judiciously edited for SiSP.)

“The play was staged in New York City in 2011, but the 2015 study has led to a small resurgence of stage productions, not in the Midwest, certainly not in Ohio.

“Shakespeare in South Park has proven to be a neighborhood mixer, bringing awareness of Shakespeare for some and enthusiasm and participation for many. Unsuspected talents have been discovered and nurtured, along with many trained actors participating.”

Quoting Wilson again:

“Director Jene Shaw has set the play in the mid-80s, complete with Big Hair. The ‘Double Falsehood’ is the double duplicity of the Duke’s son, Henriquez, played by Brian Ressler, who promises his love for Violante (Sarah Pearson). He promises his friend Julio (Brian Richardt) to take care of Julio’s girlfriend Leonora, played by Judy Shaw, while Julio’s away at court. Not shockingly, he doesn’t, but grabs her for himself.”

One young cast member, veteran of all nine seasons, described more evil plot turns, seeming to relish his own part in the villainy.

Phyllis Tonne, co-producer and co-founder, plays the Duke.

Other main speaking roles include Wayne Wolfe as Don Camillo, Kelly Johnson as Dona Camillo, Galen Wilson as Don Bernardo, and Susan Robert as Dona Bernardo.

Part of the crew includes sound by Robert Merithew, lights by Eric Heinrich, and costumes by Betsy Wilson. Cast members handle set pieces and props, and all keep things moving.

South Park Green is a pretty little park at 601 Hickory St. It’s easily reached going west off Wayne Avenue with parking on neighboring streets. Bring your own lawn chair, quiet refreshments, and mosquito protection. In case of rain, show will go on in Hope Lutheran Church, right across the street from the park.

Dare to Defy’s Seussical at the Victoria, Sept. 7-9

Extra: Seussical Jr., Kids Cast, Sept. 9 at 2 p.m.

Rebecca Norgaard, founder of Dare to Defy (D2D) and director of Seussical the Musical, absolutely sparkles with enthusiasm about the big show they’ll present on the Victoria stage. She describes the effervescence of the cast in this story based on several Dr. Seuss books featuring Horton the Elephant and other favorite characters. Oh, the people you’ll see and the things you’ll do. Written by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, the team who did Ragtime.

“We’re also experimenting with a special effect of black lights and glowing costumes to create an underwater-like appearance of floating.”

She bubbles with excitement as she describes her cast, especially a young actor who is proving to be exactly right as Jo-Jo. His name is Chavin Medina and his family is quite new to Dayton. A.J. Breslin is the Cat in the Hat and serves as narrator. Horton the Elephant is Skyler McNeely, Kim Camacho is Gertrude, and Mayzie is Danielle Bessler. In addition to other speaking roles the ensemble totals some 30 people, and there’s a 14-piece orchestra.

Handling such large casts is certainly a challenge to all the crew.  For the adult cast they are Assistant Director Jordan Norgaard, Music Director Lorri Topping, Choreographer Michael Shepherd, Stage Manager Dionne Meyer, Assistant Lauren Rodgers, Costumer Tonia Scearce, Set Designer Chris Red Newman, Light Designer Kris Smolinski, and Sound Designer Chuck Young.

An entirely different cast, all under 15, does the matinee. Norgaard finds the values and relationships of Seuss, although gentle, are also positive. Horton is teased and challenged and in danger, but friendship, loyalty, family, and community prevail.

For tickets go to TicketCenterStage.com or call 937.228.3630 or the box office in the Schuster.                                                                                                      

The Dayton Playhouse, auditions

Auditions are scheduled for Sept. 18 and 19 at 6:30 p.m. for “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.  Michael Boyd will be directing.  The cast is six middle-aged or older women and an 18-year-old boy.  Production dates are November 3-12.  The Playhouse is at 1301 E. Siebenthaler Ave. in Wegerzyn MetroPark.  For specific questions please contact Mike@MichaelBoyd.com.

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

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