On Stage

On Stage

A giggle, a gasp and a chance to get in on the ground floor

By Jacqui Theobald
Photo: Cast of “The Pillowman” at Dayton Theatre Guild [l to r] Joe Risner, Michael Boyd, Patrick Hayes and David Hallowren; photo credit: Craig Roberts

LAUGHS

Putting out a special invitation to young people, the Dayton Playhouse presents “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” directed by Jim Lockwood, who has been smitten with the musical since he saw it in London many years ago as a young man first falling in love with all things theater.

Both lyrics and music were written by Stephen Sondheim as a young man and first exploring the fun of creating theater in a new way with twisty, clever words and complex music. This cast was chosen to bring out the comedy, to move, maybe to mug a bit, putting their all into the songs. Ron Kindell is musical director and Sandra Hyde does choreography. He’s “very pleased” with the vocal achievements, and she has “made ‘em dance,” according to Lockwood.

It is witty, fast moving, non-technical fun; the final scene is pure farce, carefully choreographed to look totally spontaneous. The plot involves slave Pseudolus (Brad Mattingly) and his efforts to gain freedom back in Roman times when brain power ruled without machines. The fourth wall of theater doesn’t exist as the characters in low comedy style talk to the audience. We all have stories to share; they define our humanity. No matter what the medium, they are our entertainment.

The cast of “Forum” includes Brad Bishop as Hysterium, Saul Caplen as Senex, Claire Hurley as Domina, Mary Mykyka as Philia, Jamie McQuinn as Lycus, Jeff Sams as Miles and Richard Young as Erronius, with an ensemble of Proteans and Courtesans.

The show runs weekends Friday, May 31 through Sunday, June 16. For tickets, times and information go to daytonplayhouse.com or call 937.424.8477.

SHUDDERS

What makes some love to ride intricate plunging roller coasters or shiver their way through bloody fright movies with grotesque monsters? What makes a playwright create a tale guaranteed to affect the audience with horror or distress? The Theatre Guild has presented a palette of plays dark with the theme of “‘til death do us part” this season; dramas of death or loosely connected to death, on occasion in a comedy. Beginning Friday, May 17, however, the Guild presents a different kind of necrological show with “The Pillowman” by Martin McDonagh (“Beauty Queen of Leenane” and “The Cripple of Inishmaan”).

Ben Brantley, in the New York Times, said in 2005 “[…] for all its darkness of plot and imagery, ‘The Pillowman’ – which won the Olivier Award in London for best new play – dazzles with a brightness […] largely absent from Broadway. Mr. McDonagh’s true subject is not gruesome crime and unjust punishment, although that’s what a synopsis of the play, set largely in an interrogation room in an unnamed totalitarian state, might lead you to believe. ‘The Pillowman’ is storytelling and the thrilling narrative potential of theater itself […] Mr. McDonagh is not preaching the power of stories to redeem or cleanse or to find a core of solid truth hidden among life’s illusions […] ‘Pillowman’ is celebrating a raw, vital human instinct to invent fantasies, to lie for the fun of it. Stories are fun.”

The plot: a writer is being questioned about the gruesome content of his short stories that seem to be like a series of actual child murders.  Many twists and turns later it turns out … well that would take the thrill away, wouldn’t it?

Patrick Hayes, Michael Boyd, David Hallowren and Joseph Risner are the players, Natasha Randall directs. She said she’s been eager to do this for several years because of the playwright’s strong writing.  She also praised the skill of her cast.

“Pillowman” tells his story for three weekends Friday, May 17 through Sunday, June 2. Go to daytontheatreguild.org or call 937.278.5993 for times and tickets.

Leave the kids at home.

SUMMER PLAYWRITNG CLASS AT SINCLAIR

Sign up soon for a class running Friday, June 17 through Sunday, August 11 that combines three elements: attendance at the Dayton Playhouse’s Future Fest and The Human Race’s Musical Theatre Workshop and eight Thursday night classes at Sinclair. The course also will workshop a student-written piece slated to be produced in the fall at Sinclair. The instructor is Nelson Sheeley, New York writer and director who guest directed at Sinclair for several years before deciding to live and work in Dayton full time.

To earn three college credits go to sinclair.edu\services\registration for the online registration or call 800.315.3000. Registration and department permission is required. Tuition for the three-hour course is $287.10 for Montgomery County residents and $428 for other Ohioans. Those over 60 may audit for no credit through Sinclair’s College for Life Long Learning.

Future Fest features six new scripts selected from submissions by playwrights nationwide, half presented as fully staged productions and half as staged readings the entire weekend of July 26-28. The Festival of New Musicals will conclude two weeks of workshopping on two plays with staged readings the weekend of August 2-4.

The class size is being limited so that every student will have the opportunity to interact with the writers, directors and actors who are developing these new works. Future Fest always features a panel of adjudicators, professionals from the world of theatre in New York and Chicago and sometimes a well-regarded, knowledgeable local theatre professional. They analyze the plays and invite audience participation. Contact gina.neuerer@Sinclair.edu or 937.512.2455. Quick!

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


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