On Stage 11/17/15

Just right to find real holiday mood

By Jacqui Theobald

Photo: Eric Thompson and Abby Kress star in Dare to Defy Productions’ Footloose, Nov. 27-28 at the Victoria Theatre

Dayton Theatre Guild—All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914—Nov. 20-Dec. 6

One-hundred and one years ago, an extraordinary moment occurred when enemies came together and real peace on earth came to a battlefield. Ninety-nine years later, it became a musical homage, a bit of theatre magic, crafted by Peter Rothstein, Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach. On Nov. 20 through Dec. 6 for three weekends it will be re-created at the Theatre Guild.

The so-called “War to End All Wars” (World War I) was being fought on one front along the Belgian border by soldiers in trenches surrounded by mud to the knees, rats, lice and no end in sight. They had insufficient food and rampant illness.

It was a very different kind of war from war as we now know it. Between forces dug into the earth and separated from the enemy by yards, the men were close enough to hear each other. Yet, at night, different troops would sing. Some sang in French, English or German. They sang ethnic favorites and they sang ballads and then they began to sing carols. Different words, same melodies.

It was a competition at first; then they listened to each other and applauded. Playwright Rothstein of Latte Da Theatre, Minneapolis, spent a couple of years researching in English and Belgian libraries and war museums discovering details of humanity and what happened when people connected. He worked with musicians Lichte and Takach of the men’s choral group Cantus to shape diaries and letters of the soldiers and the music they actually sang.

Director Kathy Mola found the play through connections with theatre friends in Spokane, Washington, fell in love with it and connected with the creators in Minneapolis. The Dayton Theatre Guild will have a regional premiere, among the first staged presentations anywhere. Barbara Jorgensen is the producer.

One of those perfect serendipity moments almost took Mola’s breath away when she walked into the recent DAI World War I exhibit and saw Jane Alden Stevens’ powerful photographs from the era. “Gotta have these,” she thought. Communication followed enthusiastically on both sides. Mola’s theatrical vison became unique with the inclusion of Stevens’ photos, projected.

She and Music Director David McKibben have cast nearly a dozen strong voices and made their own local extraordinary moments, the perfect way to calm the descending holiday madness.

All is Calm is a season extra, Nov. 20-Dec. 6 at 430 Wayne Ave. in Dayton. Please call 937.278.5993 or visit daytontheatreguild.org for tickets and times. 

Dare to Defy—Footloose —Nov. 27-28

Dayton’s emerging nonprofit company is back with another popular musical, Footloose, cram-full of energy and dynamic dancing just like the movie. Dare to Defy expands to the Victoria after filling the Mathile for Godspell recently.

There’s a bit of a plot: Mom and son, Ren, move from the big city to a small farm town. A frustrated preacher has decreed there shall be no dancing by teens. The preacher’s kid falls for Ren; her boyfriend says bad things about him. Ren actually wants a dad; the preacher wants a son. Happy ending.

Director is Craig Smith. Music director is Lorri Topping. Choreographer is Jessica Tate Eggleston. They have a challenging task managing a large cast of nearly 40.

Ren is Eric Thompson. Ariel Moore is Abby Kress. Rev. Shaw Moore is David Shough. Vi Moore is Martha Armstrong-Benjamin. There are 17 more named characters and an ensemble of 16 plus.

It’s the music and the dancing that won original awards, and Dare to Defy brings a large cast and youthful enthusiasm to the Victoria, Nov. 27 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 28 at 2 and 8 p.m.

For more information, please visit d2defy.com.

Dayton Playhouse—Auditions—Nov. 23-24

Open tryouts for the six major roles plus an eight-woman ensemble are set for the mid-sixties musical The Smell of the Greasepaint, the Roar of the Crowd with book, music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. Production dates will be Jan. 22 through Feb. 7, 2016. Jim Lockwood is director. Judy Mansky is musical director. Allison Eder is choreographer.

Auditioners should bring sheet music for a “Broadway-type song that shows ability and vocal range. An accompanist will be available.” Dress for a short dance audition. Brief script readings will be held. Be prepared to list all conflicts between Nov. 23 and Feb. 7.

The plot could parallel some current perspectives: Sir and Cocky play a continuous game that Sir always wins because he changes the rules in his favor. Cocky finally understands.

The Playhouse is at 1301 E. Siebenthaler, in Wegerzyn Gardens. Please visit thedaytonplayhouse.com or email jeckleday@msn.com for more details of roles and specific vocal requirements.  

Theatre Guild—Auditions—Nov. 23-24

Part murder mystery, part psychological drama with a dash of Alfred Hitchcock, “Night Watch” by Lucille Fletcher auditions are 7 p.m. Nov. 23 and 24. at the Guild. The show will run Jan. 8-24, 2016.

It ran for a few months on Broadway in 1972 but was a better-known film in 1973, starring Elizabeth Taylor. The lead role, Elaine Wheeler gives an actress plenty of opportunities for everything from handwringing to, well, plenty of opportunities.

Saul Caplan is director, Debra Kent and Barbara Jorgensen, producers.

For more details on cast requirements please visit daytontheatreguild.org/auditions or email debra.kent@daytontheatreguild.org. Dayton Theatre Guild is at 430 Wayne Ave.


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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