On Stage

Many choices – Plays that move

By Jacqui Theobald

Photo: Matt Lindsay and Chuck Larkowski in “Retreat from Moscow” at Dayton Playhouse Dayton. Photo credit:  Jennifer Taylor Clarke

Dayton has so many theatrical openings in early April that we would have to divide into very small pieces to go to all the opening nights. The good news is that almost everything runs for two or three weekends, providing extended chances to take it all in. Fortunately, our area is such a reasonable place – most seats are well under $20 – we can think about going to several. Take a firm grip on your planner; time to leave, retreat or travel with pilgrims.


“Leaving Iowa” remains in Ohio for one more weekend, April 19-21 at the Dayton Theatre Guild 430 Wayne Ave. At the Dayton Theatre Guild, this story of a sad journey – taking a father’s ashes home – somehow turns into a family history. It is more real, often hilarious, and not at all dark or funereal. Anyone who has ever driven farther than two miles with kids in the back seat will recognize the memories of family vacations that will never meet a Disney level of cheer. “He’s sitting on my side … she’s looking at me.” Those memories of the well-planned vacations that the kids hated from beginning to end, then, are now remembered. Are they still so horrible, in adult memory? Playing themselves as teens, their parents and their older selves are Mark Reuter as Dad, Debra Kent as Mom, Rachel Wilson as Sis and Josh Smith as Don Browning. Peter Wallace covers other male characters and Ellen Ballerene is all the other women. Robb Willoughby directs the Tim Clue and Spike Manton sentimental piece. Remaining performances are Friday at 8 p.m., an early show on Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Call 937.278.5993 or go to Daytontheatreguild.org.


Another family drama has settled in at the Dayton Playhouse, “The Retreat from Moscow” looks back at a 33-year marriage that is about to come apart. As the title indicates, the play is as much about the skirmishes and brutal battles of conflict as the original history of Napoleon. In this case, the husband – schoolteacher Edward – and his devout and chastising wife – Alice – are the opposing parties. Director Dodie Lockwood has cast Charles Larkowski and Jennifer Lockwood as the couple on the verge of uncoupling. Matt Lindsay plays their son, Jaime, caught in the crossfire and suffering wounds as deep as his parents. Written by William Nicholson, author of “Shadowlands,” the play, the title and the intensity of dialogue and emotion support the front line metaphor with a sense of danger and the unknown. Each side has a lot to lose – or not. One whole weekend remains, April 19-20 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 21 at 2 p.m. Go to daytonplayhouse.org or call 937.424.8477 for tickets and information.


A few weeks ago on TV’s “Jeopardy,” three very bright adults could not identify this quote: “Oh that Aprille with its shoures soote” meaning “When in April the sweet showers fall” in old English. Adults and children who attend Beavercreek Theatre’s “Canterbury Tales” could bone up on the stories. Some folks may have been forced to memorize those first words of Chaucer’s “Prologue” in high school. It won’t matter a bit for this production. It is in familiar everyday English and has been interpreted with generous amounts of fun and outright silliness. Beavercreek promises Monty Python-styled humor applied to the familiar Canterbury travelers:  the knight, the miller, the pardoner, the nun’s priest and the friar. The wife of Bath has undergone a transformation for this adaptation and is now a nagging wife selling self-help DVDs. She told one of the liveliest stories in the original and this version may inspire you to do a bit of research to find the bawdy-flavored spice of that previous time referencing King Arthur’s era. Teresa Connair directs.

Beavercreek Community Theatre is located at 3868 Dayton-Xenia Road in Beavercreek in the old Lofino’s building. Performances of the play, definitely for children of any age and their families, are April 19-21 and April 26-27. For ticket and time information call 937.429.4737.


Free Shakespeare! is set to find out by offering a big dose of Shakespeare, prescribed to benefit the Oncology Clinic at Grandview Medical Center by reading at the Dayton Visual Arts Center starting at 8 p.m. Friday, April 26 through May 3 at 8 p.m. The week will be broken down into 37 four-hour shifts.

Teams of five to 10 people each from the community are invited to offer their support for cancer treatment with a minimum $25 pledge each, as well as their time and talent. Founding Artistic Director Chris Shea said, “Don’t be afraid of the wee hours shifts; they tend to be the most fun.”

For Shea, whose father died of colon cancer in 2010, the combination of supporting the Grandview Clinic serving uninsured or underserved patients and supporting an indigent theater company simultaneously makes sense. Free Shakespeare! is just that, bringing free, live theater to neighborhoods for those who seldom have a chance to see real stage plays. “Every bit of the funds raised will stay right here in Dayton,” Shea said. The week concludes with a luminaria ceremony honoring those affected by cancer.

To claim a shift for a group, or for more information, call Chris Shea at 937.626.3794 or email at flythemaway@gmail.com.

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

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

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